Parkinson's disease is a disorder of the motor system, affecting muscle movement. Common symptoms of Parkinson's disease include trembling of the hands, tremors, stiffness of the limbs and torso, and slow, stiff movements. Individuals diagnosed with Parkinson's may also have difficulty maintaining balance and exhibit poor coordination. Parkinson's disease generally affects people over 50 years of age, though the symptoms of the developing disease occur gradually.
For years, treatment of Parkinson's disease has been focused on relieving symptoms through the use of the drug known as Levodopa, often combined with Carbidopa. Because the disease is caused by reduction or loss of brain cell that produce and release dopamine, nerve cells can use Levodopa to encourage dopamine production in the brain. However, while some people respond positively to the drug, others do not. New drugs and treatments are currently under research, including stem cell therapies.
Researchers have fairly recently identified that exposure to a variety of neurotoxins as well as genetic dispositions may often determine the possibility of an individual contracting Parkinson's later in life. Changes in dopamine levels, metabolic changes, and other signs may lead to early diagnosis of the disease process. To date, several stem cell therapies have been used in the treatment of Parkinson's disease, including those utilizing fetal stem cells.
Identification, treatment, and prognosis of Parkinson's symptoms and conditions depends on the degree or stage the disease is in when the individual is first diagnosed. Parkinson's disease is broken down into six stages, from mild or early Parkinson's (Stage I) to Stage VI, where an individual has extreme difficulty standing or walking.
Stem cell research facilities in Central Europe treating Parkinson's with fetal stem cells have noted effectiveness in nearly 85% of cases, helping improve balance, reduce tremors, relieved rigidity, and slow the progression of the disease process.
Individuals treated after Stage III have received approximately 65% to 70% effectiveness of therapy through stem cell treatments, according to EmCell, a leading stem cell research and stem cell therapy provider in the Ukraine.
In addition to improved physical symptoms, individuals treated at EmCell with fetal stem cells, patients in the study showed distinct psycho-emotional improvement as well as maintenance of memory and intellect, speech patterns, improved thinking skills, and more positive emotions.
Another focus in stem cell therapy for symptoms and treatment of Parkinson's disease includes the use of adult stem cells, more specifically adult neural stem cells. As an autologous stem cell, such cells (at its most basic definition) are taken from the individual, multiplied, and reinserted into the patient. Clinical trials utilizing autologous neural stem cells for Parkinson's disease treatment are underway in the United States, and have so far been deemed safe and therapeutic, according to results published by UCLA researchers in the Bentham Open Stem Cell Journal. "We have documented the first successful adult neural stem cell transplantation to reverse the effects of Parkinson's disease and demonstrated the long-term safety and therapeutic effects of this approach," stated Dr. Michel Levesque, author of the article, published in 2009.
Patience progress was observed for five years following the procedure, displaying and 80% improvement in motor skills and scales for at least 36 months following treatment. Additional clinical trials are underway to replicate the findings.
Because of its morphology, Parkinson's disease is fairly receptive to stem cell transplantation therapies, which basically utilizes the process of substituting healthy dopamine producing brain cells for those that are dead or dying.
Stem cells research facilities around the globe are currently undergoing clinical trials, patient trials and recording results. While stem cell therapy has not yet been approved in the United States, they are available in a variety of locations throughout the globe from Central Europe to Latin America to Asia and, of course, the clinical trials underway in the United States, offering hope to millions of Parkinson's patients.
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