News FocusNeuroscience

Fetal Cells Again?

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Science  16 Oct 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5951, pp. 358-359
DOI: 10.1126/science.326_358

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As lab research on converting human embryonic stem (hES) cells and induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells into dopamine-producing neurons proceeds apace, there's growing doubt in some quarters about whether cell transplants will ever show a clear benefit for Parkinson's disease beyond what can be achieved by existing therapies. And researchers are increasingly realizing that there's much more to Parkinson's than a dopamine shortage. The debate about cell therapy for Parkinson's may soon become more intense as scientists in Europe, in collaboration with colleagues in North America, are in final negotiations for a large European Commission grant to conduct a new fetal cell transplant trial. The trial will refine clinical methods and be a "steppingstone" to therapies with cells derived from iPS or hES cells, says the principal investigator. Yet news of the plans dismays some who think it's a step backward.