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Adult Stem Cells Treat Parkinson’s

At Jaslok Hospital in Mumbai, 55-year-old Bhawarlal Jain has received autologous adult stem cell therapy for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. Mr. Jain has suffered from advanced symptoms of the disease for 6 years, which included spondylitis – inflammation of the vertebrae – and other joint pain since 2004. According to Jain, "I managed my business until my speech became so impaired that I had to repeat everything at least four times to be understood."

Then Mr. Jain came to Jaslok Hospital in February of this year, where a new clinical trial was being conducted in which ten Parkinson’s patients were being enrolled for autologous (in which the donor and recipient are the same person) adult stem cell therapy. In addition to enrolling in the study, Mr. Jain also became the first volunteer.

As he explains, "When I heard I was going to be the first human to be treated using stem cell transplant, I was excited and scared. I had told my family that I may never return." Ten days after receiving the stem cells, however, he is no longer afraid, and any doubts or trepidation that he may have had have now been replaced with optimism. As his wife, Sukhi, explains, "I was scared initially but now I am happy that we opted for this operation." As Dr. Pettarusp Wadia, a neurologist at Jaslok Hospital, adds, "All we did was tell him about the procedure and he volunteered himself."

Specifically, the procedure utilizes the type of adult stem cell known as mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), which are harvested from each patient’s own bone marrow via the hip, and then returned to the patient therapeutically after being processed in the laboratory. According to Dr. Paresh Doshi, head of the team who performed the eight-hour-long procedure, "We chose the stem cells from the marrow of the patient’s hip bone as these cells are readily isolated. They can expand in culture and the body can accept them easily. Small quantities of these cells were injected at an interval of every one millimeter in his brain."

Although Mr. Jain is already showing significant improvement, he will continue to be monitored for the next 18 months.

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