May 31, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

Launch of Jun Takahashi IPS Cell Trial For Parkinson’s Disease

Jun Takahashi, stem cells parkinson'sA much-anticipated induced pluripotent stem (IPS) cell trial for Parkinson’s Disease reportedly will soon launch led by Professor Jun Takahashi.

The news broke on Yahoo Japan, which included an unusual number of appropriately sober statements regarding the trial, even though it is an exciting trial as well, compared to most media stories on stem cells.

Parkinson’s Disease is a result of a loss of dopaminergic neurons in the brain so it is a particularly attractive target disease for stem cells, which can be readily used to produce dopamine neurons for transplant.

Here are some key details in the article on the Jun Takahashi IPS cell-based trial. It is anticipated that there will be some insurance coverage for this trial for patients. The target patients generally will be those who do not have the most severe disease. This is an interesting choice as it potentially allows for patients earlier in the course of the disease to get the cells, but could have somewhat higher risks. Generally, early phase trials often treat the sickest patients to minimize risks.

Jun Takahashi, stem cells parkinson's
Graphic from Yahoo Japan article

Here’s an example of the more sober aspect of the article, as translated by Chrome so forgive mistakes:

“Side effects must also be carefully judged. The nerve made from iPS cells is transplanted to a place different from the nigra that originally had dopamine nerve. Dopamine may overdone and cause side effects such as involuntary movements. Even though we confirmed the safety by monkey experiments, attention is required.
Even if this treatment method using iPS cells is established, it is not to become “dream medicine” that can return to a completely healthy state. While possessing the possibility of opening a new way of treatment, it is necessary to examine the significance properly together with other treatments.”

Overall, I think there’s real hope for stem cells for Parkinson’s Disease given the work on a number of fronts by a variety of international researchers conducting rigorous research.

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