Parkinson’s disease, a progressive movement disorder, affects nearly 1 million Americans. With the number of sufferers likely to increase as the baby boomer generation ages, the disease will become even more problematic for the American population. While there is currently no cure for the disease, a new stem cell treatment may be able to provide some answers.
The new treatment that is being developed by researchers at The Scripps Research Institute involves turning patients’ own cells into neural cells to be used to reduce symptoms of the disease, such as impaired movement. What is ideal about the procedure is that the new cells will less likely be rejected because of the fact that they originate from the patients’ own bodies. Additionally, patients will be able to repeat the procedure as needed for continuous promotion of good health.
What makes this research stand out more over others is the fact that the patients are directly working with researchers and scientists to find a treatment. Additionally, the patients and their supporters have to fund the research themselves in order to see it go from the lab to clinical tests that are planned for 2014. Yet, with over $5 million needed for the new phase of the research, raising the money is not an easy task.
Raising the Money
The eight patients and their supporters have been working hard to raise the necessary funds for future research. With the success of their first major fundraising event involving a climb up Mount Kilimanjaro, a second climb to the base camp of Mount Everest for October, 2013, is in the works.
The climbs do not only help provide a source of money, but therapeutic effects for the patients as well. For example, exercise helps to manage the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Additionally, the climbs help the patients accomplish goals that they never thought were possible before, therefore improving their overall well-being and sense of self. The climbs also help other people see that sufferers of Parkinson’s disease are still capable of doing so much more than what is typically perceived.
Unfortunately, because of the personal nature of the research, it has not yet been possible for money to be received from government grants or pharmaceutical companies. It is believed that the research has not been able to benefit from government sources because of the unique approach being too new. Meanwhile, pharmaceutical companies have not been contributing because the research is only focused on the eight patients and will not be profitable on a larger scale. However, those that are fighting for Parkinson’s disease treatment, such as cord blood bank (www.familycord.com)Â companies, state that funding the research will help provide solutions for patients outside of the experiment as well.
While the new stem cell treatment is not without its risks, the patients and their supporters are optimistic about what the future holds. By starting with just eight patients, better treatments can be developed for Parkinson’s sufferers all over the world.
Leonardo is a medical researcher. She enjoys keeping up with the latest stem cell research and sharing her findings through blogging.