Stem cell therapies for Parkinson's disease: are trials just around the corner?
Free to access editorial from our latest Regenerative Medicine issue by Janelle Drouin-Ouellet and Roger A Barker
What types of stem cells are being considered for use in PD?
Stem cells, by definition, have the inherent ability to differentiate into any cell type of the human body. They can either be sourced from embryos (embryonic stem cells; ESCs), a variety of differentiated tissues (adult stem cells) or generated from a source of adult somatic cells (induced pluripotent stem cells; iPSCs). All of these sources are being considered for cell-based therapies for PD, but the most advanced work is currently being undertaken with ESCs [4,5], stem cell-derived long-term self-renewing neuroepithelial-like stem cells  and iPSCs . Using different protocols, dopaminergic neurons from all these sources have been generated and some have even shown promising results when transplanted into rodent and non-human primate models of PD in terms of survival, integration and behavioral recovery.
By Janelle Drouin-Ouellet and Roger A Barker
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4 Kirkeby A, Grealish S, Wolf DA et al. Generation of regionally specified neural progenitors and functional neurons from human embryonic stem cells under defined conditions. Cell Rep. 1, 703–714 (2012).
5 Kriks S, Shim JW, Piao J et al. Dopamine neurons derived from human ES cells efficiently engraft in animal models of Parkinson’s disease. Nature 480, 547–551 (2011).
6 Falk A, Koch P, Kesavan J et al. Capture of neuroepithelial-like stem cells from pluripotent stem cells provides a versatile system for in vitro production of human neurons. PLoS ONE 7, e29597 (2012).
7 Sundberg M, Bogetofte H, Lawson T et al. Improved cell therapy protocols for Parkinson’s disease based on differentiation efficiency and safety of hESC-, hiPSC-, and non-human primate iPSC-derived dopaminergic neurons. Stem Cells 31, 15 48 –1562 ( 2013 )