It seems like stem cells have been the ‘flying car’ of the medical community. The cells have shown great promise and hope to medical researchers, thanks to their ability to turn into any type of cell in the body. Research involving stem cell therapy looks at curing nearly every disease from baldness to spinal cord injuries.

After decades of slow progress, today may be that day where it makes the revolutionary jump. Swedish researchers say that they have managed a major advance in stem cell treatment for Parkinson’s. Before you shrug it off as another study but decades away, researchers at Lund University have reported it will be ready for human clinical trials in a few years.

Parkinson’s is characterized by the loss the of dopamine-producing cells in the brain. These help regulate such things as movement and emotion. One of the hallmark visible symptoms of the disease is involuntary movement of the patient.

It is estimated that it affects 7 to 10 million people worldwide. Celebrities, such as Michael J. Fox have the disease, and have been at the forefront of raising awareness. I think everyone remembers Fox’s moving Congressional testimony.

Researchers at Lund University believe their research into a stem cell treatment meets a ‘rigorous’ standard. There are a few roadblocks they need to overcome to move on to human trials. One being the time variation. Trialing in rats is fine, but they want to see if the therapy is long-term as they ready tests for patients.

The full paper is in the latest issue of Cell (PDF).


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