Movement Disorders News

Stem Cells

We have received some questions about stem cells for Parkinson's disease. 

At the present time, stem cells for Parkinson's disease are considered an investigational or research intervention. As such, there should be an informed consent document, and you should not be charged for participation.

Organizations touting stem cell therapy as a "breakthrough" or standard therapy should be viewed with skepticism, and we do not recommend participating in such programs.

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Stem cells (aka Progenitor cells) are cells that can be harvested from other humans or animals, or can be taken from an individual's own cells. Stem cells are named because they can branch out and form other types of cells. There are many types of stem cells, and only some stem cells can form neural (or nervous system) cells. Stem cell therapy is NOT Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved for Parkinson's disease and should be considered investgational (i.e. for research) for PD. Stem cells are used in bone marrow transplantation, such as in the treatment of certain types of cancer. 

One of the many challenges with current stem cell technology is that cell survival is difficult to control. Some cells die before they can mature and other continue to live in an abnormal state beyond the time they are intended. A neoplasm (or cancer) is formed by stem cells as well.