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When Life Gives You Parkinson’s podcast: Stem Cells, Parkinson’s and ‘Bad Batch’

Lorenz Studer is seen at home and Memorial Sloan Kettering Labs on Tuesday September 22, 2015 in New York City, New York.
Lorenz Studer is seen at home and Memorial Sloan Kettering Labs on Tuesday September 22, 2015 in New York City, New York. John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

On this episode of When Life Gives You Parkinson’s, we explore from prayers and real promise to being preyed upon — this is the real deal about stem cell therapy and Parkinson’s disease.

The promise of stem cells is exciting and there’s amazing research underway.

Later this year, the first U.S. human trials for stem cell therapy for Parkinson’s will begin in New York. This could open up a potential path for new treatments and Dr. Lorenz Studer has spent the last 22 years perfecting the treatment.

In 1998, in Studer’s lab, the neuroscientist and founder of the Center for Stem Cell Biology at Memorial Sloane Kettering discovered a successful technique to transform animal cells into dopamine cells. They could transplant them into the brain and measure positive impacts on motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in rat models.

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READ MORE: Justin Trudeau announces $20M investment for Toronto stem cell research

Studer remembers it as a ‘eureka moment.’

It took from 1998 to 2011 for his team to discover the recipe for the human dopamine cells and they have now grown one billion of them. They are stored in vats filled with liquid nitrogen and have been safety tested hundreds of times.

Now, nearly ten years after perfecting the recipe, people with Parkinson’s will put these cells to the test and hopefully taste the sweet success of stem cell replacement therapy.

READ MORE: Unlicensed clinics offering stem cell treatments popping up across Canada: study

While Studer’s stem cell therapy is at least five years away, there are some companies claiming they can help Parkinson’s and other diseases with existing stem cell treatments. Science and Health journalist Laura Beil highlighted some of these organizations in her six-part investigative podcast “Bad Batch” by Wondery.

The podcast explores a real-life story of what happened when a bad batch of cells were distributed and injected into people in Texas. She empathizes with the victims, as she recalls she would’ve done anything to help her father who had Parkinson’s.

Dr. Studer has also heard these stories and recommends you consult with a doctor before seeking any treatments. He cautions that some companies looking to make a quick buck actually take fat cells out of the body and re-inject them into your body, while claiming they can cure your disease.

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The only FDA approved stem cell treatment is for blood diseases.

If you have a comment or question about the podcast, you can email us at parkinsonspod@curiouscast.ca.

We invite you to add your voice to the show and leave a message for us here.

Follow me, Larry Gifford

Twitter: @ParkinsonsPod

Facebook: Facebook.com/ParkinsonsPod

Instagram: @parkinsonspod

Follow co-host and producer Niki Reitmayer

Twitter: @Niki_Reitmayer

Special thanks to…

Thank you to my wife and partner in Parkinson’s Rebecca Gifford.

Laura Biel, host of the Bad Batch podcast from Wondery

Brian Fiske, SVP of Research Programs at The Michael J. Fox Foundation

Lorenz Studer, MD Director of Center for Stem Cell Biology at Memorial Sloan Kettering

Our presenting partner is Parkinson Canada.

The organization’s toll-free hotline is 1-800-565-3000.

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Follow Parkinson Canada on Twitter: @ParkinsonCanada

Our content and promotional partners

Parkinson’s IQ + You – A free, series of Parkinson’s events from the Michael J. Fox Foundation

Spotlight YOPD – The only Parkinson’s organization dedicated to raising awareness for Young Onset Parkinson’s disease and funds for the Cure Parkinson’s Trust.

WPC2022 – Save the date for the sixth World Parkinson Congress, June 7 to 10, 2022 in Barcelona, Spain in 2022. The only inclusive scientific conference opens its doors to people with Parkinson’s and families.

Links we mentioned and source material for the show:

Fox Trial Finder

International Society of Stem Cell Research

ClinicalTrials.gov

ARTICLE: Canadian man growing nose cells on spine after stem cell treatment 20 years ago.

ARTICLE: Reprogrammed stem cells implanted into patient with Parkinson’s disease.

ABSTRACT: 1998; Dr. Studer’s research on creating dopamine brain cells that help relieve Parkinson symptoms in rats.

ABSTRACT: The 2011 report Dr. Studer and his team published on the recipe to make dopamine cells for humans.

ABSTRACT: 2020 UPDATE on the Kyoto Stem Cell Project.

VIDEO: (2:21) Dr. Alan Gaveck shares a testimonial claiming stem cell therapy helped a woman’s Parkinson’s disease.

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