EU funding for new cell transplant trial for Parkinson’s
19 July 2010
The European Health Commission has awarded €12million for one of the largest ever trials of cell transplantation for people with Parkinson’s – co-ordinated by Parkinson’s UK-funded researcher Roger Barker.
We hope that our new trial will prove that cell transplants can work consistently for people with Parkinson’s.
Dr Roger Barker
This groundbreaking 5-year study brings together leading international experts to test whether transplanting new nerve cells can help repair the brains of people with Parkinson’s.
People with Parkinson’s don’t have enough of a chemical called dopamine because some nerve cells in their brains have died.
Cell transplants for Parkinson’s aim to repair the brain by replacing these lost nerve cells with new dopamine-producing nerve cells.
Problems with early studies
During the late 1980s and early 1990s, several studies attempted to transplant human foetal nerve cells into the brains of people with Parkinson’s.
But the results were inconsistent.
Some people did remarkably well and a few were even able to come off their Parkinson’s medication. But some experienced little or no improvement. And a few unfortunately developed dyskinesias – uncontrollable movements.
What the new trial aims to achieve
The new trial will take place at centres in the UK, Sweden, Germany and France. The team plans to recruit at least 80 people with Parkinson’s to take part.
Image right: Dr Roger Barker from Cambridge University, who is co-ordinating this international study
Dr Barker comments:
“The early trials showed us that cell transplants can work for people with Parkinson’s but it wasn’t clear why it worked for some people but not for others.
“Parkinson’s UK funding helped me bring experts from around the world together for a series of meetings. And together we were able to discuss how to design the ideal follow-up study and put together a joint application for European funding.
“We hope that our new trial will prove that cell transplants can work consistently for people with Parkinson’s – potentially paving the way towards treatments that use stem cells to repair the Parkinson’s brain.”