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Stem cell Parkinson's drug developed

8th January 2007

A new Parkinson's drug is being developed which could see stem cell therapy used to treat the disease within the next year.

Researchers at NeuroProgen have been working on medication to combat the decline in dopamine levels which causes Parkinson's patients to suffer from impaired movements and muscular tremors.

The drug is now being adapted to meet regulations of the pharmaceutical industry and the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology IZI.

Current medication can alleviate the symptoms for between five and ten years, but after this time scientists say the results are often unpredictable.

The new treatment works by replacing the patient's "degenerated cells with fresh human stem cells that have differentiated into nerve cells", NeuroProgen's chief executive Sigrid Schwarz explained.

"Neurosurgeons can implant these cells in a targeted area of the patient's brain, where they will produce dopamine to compensate for the patient's own insufficiency."

The researchers hope that eventually a single course of treatment will be able to cure the disease, which the Parkinson's Disease Society estimates, affects around 120,000 individuals.