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Transplantation of Human Fetal Dopamine Cells for Parkinson's Disease:  Results at 1 Year

Curt R. Freed, MD; Robert E. Breeze, MD; Neil L. Rosenberg, MD; Stuart A. Schneck, MD; Trent H. Wells; John N. Barrett, PhD; Scott T. Grafton, MD; S. C. Huang, DSc; David Eidelberg, MD; David A. Rottenberg, MD
Arch Neurol. 1990;47(5):505-512. doi:10.1001/archneur.1990.00530050021007.
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• In an effort to improve the clinical signs of Parkinson's disease, we have implanted mesencephalic dopamine cells from a 7-week human embryo into the caudate and putamen of a 52-year-old man with Parkinson's disease. Fetal tissue was obtained from elective abortion. The woman and the patient with Parkinson's disease were unknown to each other. The woman gave specific consent and was not paid. The patient had a 20-year history of parkinsonism treated with multiple drug therapies including levodopa/carbidopa (Sinemet) every 2½ hours. His symptoms were worse on the left side. For 5 months prior to transplantation, the patient underwent clinical evaluations by both a neurologist and a computer system installed in his home for daily measurement of walking and hand movements. Preoperative positron emission tomographic scanning with 6-l[18F]fluorodopa (fluorodopa) demonstrated severe dopamine depletion bilaterally. Fetal tissue was matched to the patient for ABO blood antigens, and maternal serum was screened for hepatitis B and human immunodeficiency virus type 1 prior to surgery. Fetal tissue was implanted stereotactically throughout the caudate and putamen on the right side of the brain via 10 needle tracks. The patient was not immunosuppressed. Results 12 months after surgery showed 42% improvement in left-hand speed before the first morning dose of drug and 40% greater response to drug therapy. Righthand speed increased 15% before drug therapy and 23% after drug therapy. Reaction time was unaffected. Walking speed increased 33% after drug administration, although walking speed before the first morning dose of drugs declined 40%. Walking speed on an all-day basis improved 17%. "On" time increased from 69% to 86% of the day. For technical reasons, preoperative and postoperative fluorodopa positron emission tomographic scans were performed at different facilities, so that results could not be directly compared. A magnetic resonance scan 5 months after surgery showed that signs of the needle tracks were still visible but that there was no enhanced signal after gadolinium injection, indicating that the blood-brain barrier was intact. These data indicate that transplants of human fetal dopamine cells may have therapeutic benefit in patients with Parkinson's disease.


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