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Neural Transplantation in Parkinson's Disease

V. Mehta, J. Spears and I. Mendez

Abstract: Parkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects about 1% of Canadians between the ages of fifty and seventy. The medical management for these patients consists of drug therapy that is initially effective but has limited long term benefits and does not alter the progressive course of the disease. The recalcitrance of longstanding Parkinson's disease to medical management has prompted the use of alternative surgical therapies. Many neurosurgical procedures have been utilized in order to improve the disabling symptoms these patients harbour. Although most of the current procedures involve making destructive lesions within various basal ganglia nuclei, neural transplantation attempts to reconstitute the normal nigrostriatal pathway and restore striatal dopamine. The initial success of neural transplantation in the rodent and primate parkinsonian models has led to its clinical application in the treatment of parkinsonian patients. Currently, well over one hundred patients throughout the world have been grafted with fetal tissue in an effort to ameliorate their parkinsonian symptoms. Although the results of neural transplantation in clinical trials are promising, a number of issues need to be resolved before this technology can become a standard treatment option. This review focuses on the current status of neural transplantation in Parkinson's disease within the context of other surgical therapies in current use.


Can. J. Neurol. Sci. 1997; 24: 292-301


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