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Investigating stem cells to slow Parkinson’s disease

Investigating stem cells to slow Parkinson’s disease

With more than a million Americans facing the challenges that Parkinson’s disease brings—from uncontrollable tremors to difficulty walking and talking, the research Mya C. Schiess, MD, is doing to slow the disease’s progression holds the potential for life-altering impact.

Schiess is leading the first United States Food and Drug Administration-approved clinical trial using mesenchymal stem cells to treat Parkinson’s disease.

“Mesenchymal stem cells, which are derived from the bone marrow of healthy adult volunteers, may reduce inflammation and increase blood flow in the brain. In doing so, they may restore the normal brain environment, and allow the remaining neurons to thrive,” says Schiess, who directs one of the largest movement disorder programs in the state.

Encouraging Phase I results demonstrated that the treatment is safe, and the ongoing Phase II trial will determine the most effective doses and elucidate mechanisms of action.

A host of generous donors are propelling Schiess’ research, including Louise and Tom Bannigan, John M. Kirksey, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, the Wiliam and Ella Owens Medical Research Foundation, and the Huffington Foundation.

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