A patient suffering from moderate Parkinson’s disease (PD) was first out on Feb 13, 2023, to receive a transplant with the human stem cell-derived nerve cell product STEM-PD at Skåne University Hospital in southern Sweden. This is the result of a decade long research effort in which reNEW Copenhagen’s Associate Professor Agnete Kirkeby led the pre-clinical development of the cell product.
The STEM-PD product is an embryonic stem cell-derived product consisting of human dopamine neuron progenitor cells for transplantation to the brains of Parkinson’s disease patients. The hope is that these stem cells will mature into new and healthy dopamine-producing nerve cells within the brains of the trial participants and thereby alleviate the patients’ parkinsonian symptoms.
”We have been developing STEM-PD for more than 10 years, and our preclinical data show that the STEM-PD cell product is safe and highly efficacious in reverting motor deficits in animal models of Parkinson’s disease. Based on these data, we have reason to believe that it may also work in humans,” says Kirkeby.
The cell product used has gone through rigorous pre-clinical tests to meet the quality standards of the Swedish Medical Products Agency.
Today, around eight million people around the globe live with Parkinson’s, a debilitating disease which leads to tremors, stiffness and/or the slowing of movements. The standard treatment at hand are medications which over time often loose effectiveness and cause side effects.
“With this trial, we hope to demonstrate that the cell product works as expected in patients. Over time, this creates the opportunity to help many more people with Parkinson’s in the futures,” Malin Parmar, professor at Lund University, adds.
The eight patients taking part in the trial have been carefully selected and suffer from a moderate stage of Parkinson’s. They will be followed up closely over the coming years. The trial will primarily be assessing if the treatment is safe, but the potential effects of the transplant and the progression of the patients’ disease symptoms will also be monitored. Should the trial show that the treatment with STEM-PD is safe, more trials will follow to further assess the efficacy of the cell therapy.
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Watch a film about the technology: https://www.lunduniversity.lu.se/article/nerve-cells-could-transform-treatment-parkinsons