An iPSC First: Cell Therapy to Treat Parkinsonian Monkeys
Moving toward personalized therapies, researchers report the successful, matched transplantation of autologous rhesus monkey induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells back into the brain. These genetically engineered monkeys suffer from balance disturbances and display other symptoms similar to human Parkinson’s patients. Led by Su-Chun Zhang at the University of Wisconsin, the team derived neural progenitors from parkinsonian monkeys’ skin samples, and then allowed the cells to fully mature into the brain. Tagged with fluourescent markers, the transplanted cells differentiated into a spectrum of brain cells—astrocytes, dopaminergic neurons, among others. On a promising note, the transplanted cells elicited a minimal immune response and the monkeys showed no signs of cancer at six month follow-up according to this Cell Reports study.