‘This is what it feels like to be normal’: Experimental stem cell treatment shows promise against Parkinson’s

| | May 20, 2020
possibilities for stem cell therapy in parkinsons highlighted
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[Researchers planned] to carry out an experimental transplant surgery unprecedented in the annals of medicine: replacing the dysfunctional brain cells of a Parkinson’s disease patient with the progeny of an extraordinary type of stem cell. Created in the lab from a patch of the patient’s own skin, these cells, it was hoped, would settle into the brain like they belonged there and permanently restore the patient’s ability to walk and move normally.

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George Lopez

If successful, the surgery could forever change Parkinson’s disease, from an inexorable, cruel, and sometimes fatal decline to — for at least some patients — a condition that can be successfully treated.

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[George] Lopez had barely settled back into his hospital bed after the four-hour operation when he felt his muscles strengthening and the tremors dissipating. He threatened to arm-wrestle the surgeon who came to check on him. And he told his personal assistant that he wanted to get the heck out of the hospital and take a walk. “I said, this is what it feels like to be normal,” Lopez recalled.

Ultimately, only a rigorous clinical trial can show whether the stem cell therapy helped. The researchers have met with FDA officials about starting one.

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