NYSCF Innovator Malin Parmar’s Investigational Cell Therapy for Parkinson’s Reaches First Patient In Clinical Trial


STEM-PD, a investigational cell therapy developed by NYSCF – Robertson Stem Cell Investigator Alumna Malin Parmar, PhD, of Lund University, reached its first patient last month as part of a clinical trial in Sweden. The investigational therapy leverages stem cells to introduce healthy dopamine-producing neurons – the cells affected by Parkinson’s disease – into patient brains. 

“This is an important milestone on the road towards a cell therapy that can be used to treat patients with Parkinson’s disease,” said Gesine Paul-Visse, principal investigator for the STEM-PD clinical trial, consultant neurologist at Skåne University Hospital, and adjunct professor at Lund University in Sweden in a press release. “The transplantation has been completed as planned, and the correct location of the cell implant has been confirmed by a magnetic resonance imaging. Any potential effects of the STEM PD-product may take several years. The patient has been discharged from the hospital and evaluations will be conducted according to the study protocol.”

“With this trial, we hope to demonstrate that the cell product works as expected in patients. Over time, this creates the opportunity to help many more people with Parkinson’s in the future,” added Dr. Parmar, professor at Lund University. 

Dr. Parmar leads the STEM-PD team in close collaboration with colleagues at Skåne University Hospital, Cambridge University, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Imperial College London. NYSCF supported the development of the therapy via Dr. Parmar’s NYSCF – Robertson Investigator award, and the trial is also supported by pharmaceutical leader Novo Nordisk.

“Further studies are required to move STEM-PD from this first in human trial all the way to a global treatment, and we have therefore worked in close collaboration with the pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk A/S,” said Dr. Parmar. “Their input to the study, as well as operational and regulatory guidance, have been fundamentally important to initiate this first in human study and we look forward to future collaborations.”

Better treatments for Parkinson’s are desperately needed, as current therapies can only target symptoms rather than slowing, stopping, or reversing the disease, and become less effective over time. Dr. Parmar hopes that STEM-PD will help address the disease at its root. This is the first such trial in Europe (a parallel effort from Lorenz Studer’s group at BlueRock Therapeutics and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center is underway in the United States). 

The scientists also stress that the procedure itself is less invasive than one might expect.

“The brain region that the cells are transplanted into in this trial can be as narrow as four millimeters. The surgical instrument has a very high level of precision, and we are greatly helped by modern imaging techniques,” says consultant neurosurgeon Hjálmar Bjartmarz, MD, who carried out the transplantation surgery.

Eight patients from Sweden and the UK will undergo the investigational therapy at Skåne University Hospital, all of which were diagnosed with Parkinson’s at least ten years ago and have reached a moderate stage of the disease.

This is a major advancement in stem-cell-based treatments for neurodegenerative disorders, and we look forward to sharing the results of the trial when available.

Diseases & Conditions:

Parkinson's Disease

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