First Clinical Trial Of Embryonic Stem Cells Is Set To Treat Parkinson's Disease And Blindness

First Posted: Jun 02, 2017 04:50 AM EDT

Medical experts including surgeons are planning to launch a clinical trial to treat Parkinson's disease and blindness with embryonic stem cells. If the results are satisfying, this could set new standards for the world.

The trial that will be launched in the coming months will be led by surgeons from the city of Zhengzhou, China. They will inject stem cells from human embryos into the brains of people diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. They expect that this could treat the symptoms of the said disease.

Another medical team from the same city is also planning to use embryonic stem cells to people that have lost their vision. The embryonic stem cells will replace the lost cells in the retina, according to Science Alert.

Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) are stem cells from the homogenous inner mass cells of a human embryo. They are considered pluripotent cells, which means they could be distinguished into all derivatives of the three major germ layers, namely ectoderm, mesoderm and endoderm. They could also generate into each of over 200 cell types of the adult body as they are specified to do.

ESC therapies have been proposed for regenerative medicine and tissue replacement after disease or injury. These could treat conditions such as blood and immune system-related genetic diseases, disorders, cancers, juvenile diabetes, Parkinson's, spinal cord injuries and blindness.

The research team in China is confident on the coming results of the clinical trial. Qi Zhou, the stem cell and leading specialist on both ESC trials from the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Zoology in Beijing, said that in the four years of animal trials they conducted, they indicated promising results. Zhou added that they have all the imaging data, molecular data and behavioral data to support its efficacy.

The team also aims to improve the ethics and safety of stem cell treatments. They will enforce the use of cells in a regulatory board, confirming patient consent and allowing treatments only in authorized hospitals. 

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