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The Movement Disorder Society (MDS) issues caution against unproven stem cell therapies for Parkinson’s disease
MILWAUKEE, WI – The Movement Disorder Society’s Scientific Issues Committee has released a brief review of the use of stem cell therapies for Parkinson’s disease (PD), ultimately warning patients against treatments performed outside of a recognized academic or clinical setting.
In theory, stem cell therapy would be used to replace or repair the cells lost or damaged in the disease process, and restore cell function and improve symptoms. While advances in cell-based research may ultimately provide potential new therapies for patients with PD, this remains in the realm of research. Science has yet to fully establish a number of challenging aspects of stem cell therapy including specific cell type, method of administration, clinical effect and long term safety.
Several business enterprises worldwide are offering therapies using stem cells which may not be specifically engineered to repair function of the degenerating neurons in PD. The outcome of these treatments have not been submitted for independent, scientific peer-review or publication, yet many of these business enterprises make unsubstantiated claims of considerable benefit to the patient. Due to the potential for very serious side effects, the Society is urging patients to avoid these treatments carried out without adequate scientific research, and encourages patients to participate only in cell therapies affiliated with a recognized research institution.
MDS President, Matthew Stern, adds, “We are hopeful that stem cell research will one day yield fruitful therapies for patients with PD and other neurodegenerative disorders. However, misleading information and false hope does a great disservice to patients afflicted with these disorders. We have learned repeatedly that promising cell and gene based therapies often fail the test of careful clinical research. It is our hope that dispersing accurate information about the current state of stem cell therapy in PD will help patients and their families and caregivers make informed decisions about their treatment.”
About The Movement Disorder Society
The Movement Disorder Society, an international society of over 4,000 clinicians, scientists, and other healthcare professionals, is dedicated to improving patient care through education and research. For more information about The Movement Disorder Society, visit www.movementdisorders.org.