Parkinson's Spreads to Transplanted Cells

Disease found in healthy cells grafted to sufferers' brains
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 7, 2008 9:18 AM CDT
Michael J. Fox suffers from Parkinson's Disease and is an advocate for stem cell research. New studies raise questions about the effectiveness of brain cell graft treatment for Parknson's sufferers.    (AP Photo/Peter Kramer)
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(Newser) – Transplanting healthy cells into the brains of people with Parkinson's alleviates symptoms, but sufferers showed signs of deterioration as the disease spread to the grafted cells, according to two studies in the journal Nature Medicine. Scientists in Sweden and Chicago discovered similar results in patients who received cell transplants up to 16 years ago.

The findings are a blow to hopes of finding permanent relief for those with the debilitating disease. The results contradict the more positive conclusions of another study and will likely reignite the debate over using stem cells in the future for similar grafts. "Grafted cells can be affected by the disease," wrote the Chicago researchers. "It's unclear whether a similar fate would befall stem cell grafts." (Read more Parkinson's disease stories.)