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Can Stem Cells Treat Parkinson's Disease Symptoms?

Posted by Douglas W. Stoddard MD, M Sp Med, Dip Sport Med, ES on 17 September 2017
Can Stem Cells Treat Parkinson's Disease Symptoms?

The late Muhammad Ali offers a harrowing illustration of the damage Parkinson's disease can wreak on someone's nervous system.

Ali was "The Greatest," gracefully out-maneuvering his rivals, beating them to the punch both physically and verbally. He fearlessly took on governments, racial conventions, and the most powerful pugilists of his time. The man was unflappable, invincible even.

Yet, at a relatively young 74-years-old, Ali would succumb to the condition that left him a shadow of his former self.

Suffering for the Cause

Ali's legendary battles in the ring caused brain trauma, triggering the disease that would assault the former heavyweight champ's nervous system. The effects of Parkinson's breached the icon's defenses more easily than George Foreman or Joe Frazier ever could.

As a global treasure, Ali physically deteriorated in the limelight. While it was always hard to watch, and harder for the champ to experience, the public nature of his suffering raised awareness and fueled research for treatments.

Tale of the Tape

The root of Parkinson's stems from a lack of dopamine made by the brain cells, causing abnormal brain functions, and a loss in the ability to control body movements.

Researchers have long attempted to use stem cells to restore normal production of the neurotransmitter chemical. And with the use of human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS), monkeys have been successfully treated for the symptoms of Parkinson's, with human iPS cells being coaxed into dopamine-producing brains cells.

Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells: A Champ in The Making

Human iPSCs are a type of pluripotent stem cell that can be generated from adult cells, eliminating the need for embryos, while matching a patient's own pluripotent stem line. These unlimited supplies of autologous cells could be used to generate transplants without the risk of immune rejection.

Serious Monkey Business

The subjects of these tests were trial monkeys, who showed no signs of brain tumours for the past two years. These Parkinson-plagued primates displayed drastically improved movement. Human extracted cells were effective whether they were taken from healthy individuals or Parkinson's patients.

Jun Takahashi of Kyoto University, the world-leader in iPSC technology, hopes to start human trials in the summer of 2018. Since iPS cells are used instead of human embryonic stem cells, it'll create leeway for Parkinson's treatments in countries like Ireland, where the use of embryonic stem cells is barred.

Could Muhammad Ali Have Benefitted From iPS Cell Treatments?

Ali could not have avoided Parkinson's unless he retired earlier, or never boxed in the first place. There is no magical cure that could have prevented his prolonged deterioration.

However, Parkinson's treatments  - including the human induced pluripotent stem cell treatments - neutralize the symptoms. The particular treatments could have increased dopamine levels, helping the champ control his movements. He may have still had Parkinson's, but it would have helped him remain active, and dulled much of his pain.


While we're not about to launch a cure for Parkinson's disease, our various stem cell therapies and PRP injections can treat chronic conditions such as tendonitis and osteoarthritis, as well as promote the healing of injuries such as meniscal tears. There's no surgery - only the use of your body's own healing abilities!

Call us today at 1-855-712-9901 to schedule an appointment, or drop by one of our RegenerVate locations!

Author: Douglas W. Stoddard MD, M Sp Med, Dip Sport Med, ES
About: Dr. Stoddard is a sport medicine and injection physician in Toronto and is the Medical Director of RegenerVate. After receiving his medical degree from the University of Toronto, he trained in Australia at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra, obtaining his Master Degree in Sport Medicine. His injection training, including ultrasound, PRP and Prolotherapy, was primarily done in the USA. He is a diplomat of the Canadian Academy of Sport and Exercise Medicine (CASEM), is married and a proud father of two boys. He is an avid triathlete and occasional guitar player.
Tags: Stem Cell Research

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