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New study provides optimism for Parkinson’s sufferers

September 12, 2023

IN THE NEWS: In what could prove to be game-changing development in the stem cell research community, an early-phase clinical trial showed that lab-made neurons implanted into the brains of people suffering from Parkinson’s disease appear to have reduced symptoms for at least some of them.

massachusetts institute of technology technology review logo white letters on black backgroundThe goal is for the added cells to rebuild neural networks that produce dopamine, a neurotransmitter. It is the shortage of dopamine that produces the devastating symptoms of the debilitating disease.

Dr. Claire Henchcliffe, a UCI Health neurologist and professor at the UCI School of Medicine, is a leading expert in Parkinson's disease and principal investigator of the clinical trial at the UCI Alpha Clinic, She spoke to MIT Technology Review about the study's findings.

“The goal is that they form synapses and talk to other cells as if they were from the same person. What’s so interesting is that you can deliver these cells and they can start talking to the host.”

Henchcliffe is chair and professor of neurology at the UCI School of Medicine with more than 20 years’ experience treating patients with Parkinson’s disease and related conditions. A leading international expert on Parkinson's disease, her research has focused on developing new treatments, including stem cell-based regenerative therapy and gene therapy.

The UCI Alpha Clinic is the clinical trials arm of the UCI Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center (SCRC) and part of a network of the state's CIRM-funded leading medical centers. It specializes in delivering leading-edge stem cell clinical trials and gene therapy to patients, and it seeks to accelerate the development of new treatments through partnerships with patients, medical providers and clinical trial sponsors. Visit www.stemcell.uci.edu to learn more about clinical stem-cell trials and regenerative medicine research at UCI.

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