Stem cell hope for Neuro Patients

by Risha Chitlangia ,  Times of India | 2009-02-16

New Delhi: There may be life beyond dopamine therapy for the six crore-odd Parkinson’s patients in the country.

All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) has recently started stem cell trials for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease and the neurology department has enrolled five patients for it. Though in the nascent stages, experts say stem cell treatment is likely to be the preferred treatment mode for neurological disorders like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and the lot in the near future. Stem cell therapy in fact was the recurrent theme in the 2nd Asian and Oceanian Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorder Congress and the 7th Asia Pacific Parkinson’s Association organised by AIIMS neurology department on Sunday.

Usually extracted from embryos or from bone marrow or umbilical cord, stem cells are primitive, undifferentiated cells that have the ability to grow into any type of tissue. They are being hailed as the dream treatment for a wide range of ‘‘incurable’’ diseases. “We have started stem cell trials for the treatment of Parkinson’s. But it is a long process. In this trial, we will use bone marrow stem cells harvested from patients. The cells, after being regrown in the laboratory, will be surgically inserted into the patient’s brain. As we would be using patient’s own stem cells, there would be no chances of rejection,” said Dr Sumit Singh, associate professor and co-investigator of the stem cell trail at AIIMS. Headed by Dr Madhuri Behari, head of the neurology department, AIIMS, the team stated the trial in January. “We plan to inject the stem cells back into the patients in the coming month. But it is too early to predict the results,” said Dr Singh.

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