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Parkinson's Trial Gets Underway

A new trial using induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells to treat Parkinson's disease has begun in Japan, Science reports.

Researchers led by Jun Takahashi from Kyoto University's Center for iPS Cell Research and Application will be injecting dopaminergic progenitor cells derived from iPS cells from healthy donors into patients' brains, Science says. The Japan Times reports that the researchers have received government approval and hope to recruit seven patients into their study.

The treatment will involve drilling small holes into patients' skulls to deliver some 5 million cells to the putamen, Science adds. Through this treatment, Takahashi and his colleagues want to coax these dopaminergic progenitor cells to develop into dopaminergic neurons — which are lacking in Parkinson's disease patients— and ease the disease's symptoms.

According to the Japan Times, Takahashi said at a news conference that iPS cells could give Parkinson's disease patients "promising choice of treatment." It adds that the researchers hope to develop the treatment as one that's covered by the national health insurance.