The STEM-PD trial has recently published an update, which indicates the team is proceeding to the next trial stage based on early positive safety data.

STEM-PD is an ongoing clinical trial that aims to evaluate the safety and tolerability of cell-replacement therapy for Parkinson’s. Parkinson’s is driven by the loss of dopamine-producing nerve cells (or neurons) in the brain; therefore, researchers have proposed using cell transplantation as a potential treatment option for replacing these lost dopamine cells.

Led by Professor Gesine Paul-Visse at Lund University (Sweden) and Professor Roger Barker at Cambridge University (UK), STEM-PD will test this approach by transplanting healthy dopamine neurons into the brains of eight people with Parkinson’s, assessing them over a 36-month period. The transplanted neurons are grown from stem cells – special cells which can develop into many different types of cells or tissues in the body.

In their latest update, the STEM-PD team discussed their progress since the trial’s launch last year. Four participants are now enrolled in Sweden and have received their dose of cells. The researchers are pleased to report that all participants are doing well and there have been no concerning side effects so far.

Based on this initial positive safety data, the team will proceed with the next four participants, who will be receiving a higher dose of cells. Though primarily to evaluate its safety, the researchers will also explore whether any clinical benefits are experienced and evaluate how well the transplanted cells survive over time. The first participant in the higher dose cohort has now been transplanted before the remaining three later this year.

The study is being funded by national and EU funding agencies as well as the pharmaceutical company, Novo Nordisk. The design and delivery of this trial follow on from findings within the TRANSEURO study – a previous cell transplant trial for Parkinson’s. Cure Parkinson’s is currently funding a three-year follow-up study monitoring the participants, led by Professor Roger Barker, to assess the long-term effects of cell-replacement therapy.