Research

Parkinson's disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder, it involves increasing movement-related disability, including tremors, slow and rigid movement, impaired balance, and cognitive changes. (View full article. Info Below)

PD is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that affects movement and the control of movement, including speech and body language. As patients becoming increasingly disabled their quality of life deteriorates. PD typically appears first in people aged 50 to 60 years, but cases can also be early or juvenile onset. PD is chronic and progressive and there is no cure. The typical symptoms are tremors, rigidity, slow movement (bradykinesia), poor balance and difficulty walking. PD is also associated with cognitive and mood disturbances.

A variety of factors seem to contribute to the development of adult-onset PD, however in most cases the cause is unknown. Several different proteins, and the genes that code for them, have been implicated in PD.

Microscopic examination of brain images from people with PD shows the marked loss of nerve cells that produce the molecule dopamine, a chemical that transmits information between nerves and other cells, such as the muscles that control movement. A focus for loss of dopamine-producing cells is a region of brain called the substantia nigra. The brain cells also contain small lumps of insoluble protein that contribute to the symptoms of PD. The loss of the nerves that control muscle movement is usually extensive before PD is diagnosed.

In the absence of a cure, the treatment of PD is directed toward relieving the symptoms, and often involves pharmacological dopamine replacement therapy. Oral levodopa and carbidopa significantly improve the quality of life for people with PD.

Some drugs mimic the role of dopamine in the brain and the antiviral drug amantadine appears to reduce symptoms. Other pharmacologic treatments that target various mechanisms of neuroprotection are also in use.

For many patients, drugs become ineffective as the severity of the symptoms increases over time. More recently, high-frequency deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the substantia nigra and other region of the brain involved in the control of movement has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of PD.

LCT's approach to PD therapy is neuroprotective and involves the implantation of NTCELL in the region of the substantia nigra where the cells provide reparative brain hormones (neurotrophins) that protect brain cells from further degeneration and support the brain's natural repair mechanisms.

LCT has conducted models of PD, which have shown that NTCELL provides a significant benefit.In these model systems, subjects recovered from the characteristic turning movement abnormality associated with PD and demonstrated increased dopamine activity in the affected area of the brain.

NTCELL is currently in Phase I clinical trials in New Zealand for PD.

PD affects about 1 in 500 people, and approximately 1% of people over 60 have PD. It affects over 500,000 people in the U.S. and more than 4 million people worldwide, according to the NIH. A recently published study in Drug Benefit Trends estimates the annual economic impact of PD in the United States to be over US $10 billion. Annual direct medical costs per patient with PD are estimated to be between $10,000 and $12,000, which is more than double that of patients without the disease.