The researchers reprogrammed these cells to function as stem cells and then made them the precursors of those who produced a neurotransmitter that was not present in the disease.
Cells were dopamine precursors, a rare neurotransmitter in patients with Parkinson's disease. He was the first patient of seven patients to receive this treatment. / Getty Images
The story seems to have been taken from a science fiction book, but it can be considered one of the most surprising developments in medicine. According to Nature magazine, Japanese surgeons implanted "re-programmed" stem cells in the brain of a person with Parkinson's disease for the first time.
To understand the complexity of the procedure, we must first clarify what a "re-programmed" stem cell is. These cells, known as formally induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS), are cells that are adapted to return to an embryonic state, such as skin, where the body can be converted into other cells. In other words, they are "ordinary" cells that scientists have restructured to act as stem cells.
In this case, researchers at Kyoto University were to cause a neurotransmitter when a donor was scarce to make skin cells the precursors of dopamine-producing cells. People have motor difficulties.
Approximately 2.4 million of these new cells, or iPS precursors of dopamine, were first implanted in the brain of a 50-year-old patient who first suffered from Parkinson's disease. During the 3-hour procedure, the cells were injected into 12 brain regions that were known to be a center of dopamine activity.
Although the procedure proved to be successful in monkey experiments, this was the first time that a human being had been performed. And the results are on the right track. Jun Takahashi, a scientist in charge of implanting and reprogramming neurosurgeons nature almost a month later, "the patient was good and so far did not have a serious side effect". The team will observe for six months and, if no complications occur, another 2.4 million dopamine precursor cells will be implanted in the brain.
So if all goes well, six more patients will enter this process by the end of 2020. Also, if you pass this first stage and the results of the study are strong enough, Takahashi believes that treatment can be sold to patients. From 2023, Japan's accelerated approval system for regenerative drugs. "Of course, depending on how good the results," he said to the magazine.
This is the second time that a clinical trial uses reprogrammed stem cells or iPS. The first person to do the internship, the ophthalmologist Masayo Takahashi, wife of Jun, created retinal cells from iPS and used it to treat some eye diseases.