KYOTO – A research team led by Kyoto University professor Jun Takahashi will soon launch a clinical study to establish a new treatment for Parkinson’s disease using induced pluripotent stem cells.
Takahashi told reporters Wednesday he hopes to develop the iPS treatment without delay so that Kyoto University Hospital will be able to provide it from fiscal 2018 as a designated advanced medical technique that can be used together with conventional treatments and medicines already covered by insurance.
He also expressed hope that the treatment will be payable through public health insurance by fiscal 2023.
The clinical study will target Parkinson’s disease patients whose conditions have progressed to the point where their medications are losing effectiveness.
“It will take a long time” to establish an effective treatment for the progressive disorder, which is incurable at present, Takahashi said, stressing the importance of maintaining a positive attitude toward development and not losing hope.
Parkinson’s disease causes the nerve cells in the brain to decrease, affecting muscle movement.
In the clinical study, iPS cells will be produced from cells collected from the participating patients. The stem cells, which can become almost any type of body tissue, will be transplanted back into the donors just before they develop into nerve cells, Takahashi said.
The team will also seek to develop a method for producing a nerve cell drug created from cells taken out of healthy people, to ease the financial burden on patients, he said. Production of iPS cells remains prohibitively expense.
Takahashi also said he aims to move on to clinical trials by March 2019.