Chinese researcher tries new treatment for Parkinson's disease

Updated: 2012-08-16 17:04


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A Chinese researcher has achieved initial success in trying to find new methods for the treatment of Parkinson's disease through xenotransplantation.

Wang Wei, a medical professor at the Third Xiangya Hospital affiliated with Central South University in central China's Hunan province, said his method of transplanting neural cells from pigs into the brains of Parkinson's-affected monkeys aroused interest among scientists at the International Congress of the Transplantation Society held in Berlin, Germany in July.

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Xenotransplantation, according to Wang, refers to the transplantation of living cells, tissue or organs from one species to another.

Experimental results showed that Parkinson's disease in the participating monkeys was well controlled after they received the neural transplants, Wang said.

"This indicates that the treatment of Parkinson's disease through xenotransplantation has seen initial success," Wang said in a statement posted on the website of Central South University.

The neural cells of pigs are covered in a semi-permeable membrane, enabling transplanted cells to function properly while avoiding immune system rejection by recipients, Wang added.

"Our next step is to solve safety problems regarding xenotransplantation," Wang said, noting that the research is still in a pre-clinical trial stage.

Parkinson's disease, also known as paralysis agitans, is a common chronic neural degenerative brain disease. It was described by James Parkinson as a single disease entity in 1817.

The cause of the disease is sill unknown, although possible explanations include aging, genetic predisposition or exposure to viruses or chemical compounds.