Human embryonic stem cells typically come from fertilized eggs. International Stem Cell Corp. (OTCQB: ISCO) uses a process called parthenogenesis, in which researchers use chemicals to induce the egg to begin developing as if it had been fertilized. The egg — called a parthenote — behaves just like an embryo in the early stages of division. Because it contains no genetic material from a father, however, it cannot develop into a viable fetus. Just like embryonic stem cells, parthenogenetic stem cells can be coaxed to grow into different kinds of human cells or tissue, ready to be transplanted into diseased areas of the body. International Stem Cell Corp. scientists have converted them into liver cells and plan to convert them into neurons for treating Parkinson’s disease, pancreatic cells for diabetes, and other tissues.
International Stem Cell Corp. is conducting a current study in which 12 people with moderate to severe Parkinson’s disease will be treated at Royal Melbourne Hospital in Melbourne. They will be given one of three doses of cells, from 30 million to 70 million. They will be monitored for 12 months to evaluate the safety and activity of these cells. The patients will be assessed before receiving the treatment under standards such as the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale and will be reassessed at intervals.
Here are some startling statistics from the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation’s website (http://dtn.fm/t4Jyi). As many as one million Americans live with Parkinson’s disease, which is more than the combined number of people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and Lou Gehrig’s disease. Approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease each year, and this number does not reflect the thousands of cases that go undetected. An estimated seven to 10 million people worldwide are living with Parkinson’s disease. Incidence of Parkinson’s increases with age, but an estimated four percent of people with PD are diagnosed before the age of 50. Men are one and a half times more likely to have Parkinson’s than women.
The combined direct and indirect cost of Parkinson’s, including treatment, social security payments and lost income from inability to work, is estimated to be nearly $25 billion per year in the U.S. alone. Medication costs for an individual person with PD average $2,500 a year, and therapeutic surgery can cost up to $100,000 dollars per patient.
For more information, visit www.internationalstemcell.com