This week, the stem cell company ‘BlueRock Therapeutics’ announced that they have been received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to begin a cell transplantation clinical trial for Parkinson’s.

Parkinson’s is characterised by the loss of the chemical dopamine in the brain. When a person is diagnosed with the condition, they have lost approximately 50% of the dopamine-producing neurons. The disappearance of these dopamine neurons is associated with the appearance of the motor features of Parkinson’s: slowness of movement, rigidity, and a resting tremor.

For decades, research groups around the world have been correcting models of Parkinson’s by transplanting dopamine neurons back into the brain, and more recently they have focused their attention on developing recipes for producing large numbers of dopamine neurons in the lab. The biotech company BlueRock Therapeutics is a pioneer in this field and they have spent the last 5 years perfecting their protocols for producing dopamine neurons in cell culture.

The US Food and Drug Administration – the regulator of clinical trials – has recently given BlueRock Therapeutics permission to start testing their cells in a clinical trial aimed at developing cell transplantation for Parkinson’s. The primary objective of this new study will be to assess the safety and tolerability of the cell transplantation procedure with a small number of participants being evaluated over a one-year period post-surgery. If there are no issues, larger clinical studies will be initiated.

Prof Lorenz Studer – the scientific co-founder of BlueRock Therapeutics – has been a regular participant in the G-Force initiative which Cure Parkinson’s has supported. G-Force is a consortium of research groups trying to take cell transplantation to the clinic for Parkinson’s.

Cure Parkinson’s wishes BlueRock Therapeutics the very best of luck with their clinical trial.

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