Neurodegeneration is the progressive loss of structure and/or function of neurons including death. Neurodegenerative diseases include; Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease. The Stem Cells Transplant Institute in Costa Rica, uses adult autologous stem cells for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.
Transplantation of stem cells at sites of neuronal degeneration is a very promising approach for the treatment of different neurological diseases such as Parkinson`s Disease. Treatment at the Stem Cells Transplant Institute could help improve the symptoms of Parkinson´s disease:
- Slowed movement (bradykinesia)
- Rigid muscles
- Impaired posture and balance
- Loss of automatic movements
- Speech changes (softly, quickly, slur or hesitate before talking)
- Writing changes
What is Parkinson’s disease?
Parkinson’s disease is the second most common type of neurogenerative disease, second only to Alzheimer’s disease. Parkinson’s disease is characterized by a progressive loss of muscle control leading to bradykinesia (slow movement), rigidity, resting tremor and postural instability. As symptoms worsen, it may be difficult to walk, talk, and perform simple tasks. Non-motor symptoms can include; anxiety, depression, psychosis, and dementia.1,2
Dopamine is a chemical that acts as a messenger between brain cells. It plays a role in how we move, what we eat, and how we learn. The substantia nigra, a tiny strip of tissue on both sides of the base of your brain produces dopamine. When the brain cells in the substantia nigra start to die, dopamine levels drop. When the level of dopamine gets to low, you will begin to experience symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
Can stem cell therapy improve the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease?
There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease and currently available therapeutic approaches only treat the symptoms of the disease. Initially, you may experience significant symptomatic improvement from approved medicines, but over time the benefits begin to lessen. A surgical procedure called deep brain stimulation is also available, but typically offered to people with advanced Parkinson’s disease. Deep brain stimulation can effectively control diminished or erratic responses to treatment with levodopa. The surgery can involve risks including; infections, stroke or brain hemorrhage. Additionally, it does not keep the disease from progressing and is not effective in patients that do not respond to levodopa therapy.
Frustration from limited treatment options has led to an increased focus on stem cell replacement therapy, treatment intending to provide long-lasting relief from symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. When dopamine is reintroduced into the central nervous system, researches showed symptoms were decreased or reversed. This means, if stem cells can be induced into becoming dopamine producing neurons and then transplanted in affected zones, they could replace impaired cells, improving function.1,2
Mesenchymal stem cells have been shown to repair and regenerate neurons in the brain, reduce levels of free radicals, improve synaptic connection from damaged neurons and regulate inflammation. It is not clear how mesenchymal stem cells perform these functions, but one theory is: injected stem cells are drawn to the injured area where they release trophic factors (molecules that support cell survival) that aid in repairing damaged cells. The trophic factors can suppress the local immune system, form new blood vessels, reduce levels of free radicals, stop the damage occurring to tissue, and increase the recruitment, retention, proliferations and differentiation of stem cells.2
What type of stem cells are used?
The Stem Cells Transplant Institute uses adipose derived, autologous, mesenchymal stem cells for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. Autologous means the stem cells are collected from the recipient so the risk of rejection is virtually eliminated. Mesenchymal stem cells are one type of adult stem cells that are found in a variety of tissues including; adipose tissue, lung, bone marrow, and blood. Treatment at the Stem Cells Transplant Institute may improve the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
How are the stem cells collected?
A team of stem cell experts developed an FDA approved method and protocol for harvesting and isolating adipose derived stem cells for autologous reimplantation. It is this method that is used at the Stem Cells Transplant Institute. The collection and use of adult stem cells does not require the destruction of embryos and for this reason, more U.S. federal funding is being spent on stem cell research.
How are the stem cells administered?
The stem cells are administered by intravenous and Intrathecal (spinal) injection
About the Stem Cells Transplant Institute
Costa Rica has one of the best healthcare systems in world and is ranked among the highest for medical tourism. Using the most advanced technologies, the team of experts at The Stem Cells Transplant Institute believes in the potential of stem cell therapy for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases. We are committed to providing personalized service and the highest quality of care to every patient.
1.Fu et al. Stem cell transplantation therapy in Parkinson’s disease. SpringerPlus (2015) 4:597
2.Joyce et al. Mesenchymal stem cell for the treatment of neurodegenerative disease. Regen Med. 2010 November ; 5(6): 933–946. doi:10.2217/rme.10.72.