Stem Cells Have Dramatic Effect on Parkinson's Disease, American Gets Her Life Back
Tiantan Puhua Neurosurgical Hospital, October 24, 2006
An American citizen inflicted with debilitating Parkinson’s disease became one of the first in the world to be treated successfully with stem cell therapy at Tiantan Puhua Neurosurgical Hospital in Beijing. 52 year old Penny of Hawaii has seen remarkable improvement in her condition is being treated with the unique procedure specifically designed for Parkinson’s patients. The announcement comes after hospital staff monitored Penny’s progress to ensure the procedure was a success after the initial stages of treatment were completed.
"I was on the verge of dying" says Penny. "Now, I feel that I have my life back after this new stem cell treatment. My body has calmed down, I can walk fluidly, I can hold a knife and a fork and cut my food by myself, I can get out of bed on my own, brush my hair, and even do Yoga. I feel like a kid again," she said.
The ground breaking treatment causes patients to naturally produce Dopamine by introducing ‘Human Retinal Pigment Epithelial cells’ (hRPE) to their bodies. This enhances Dopamine levels in the brain. Patients do not need to take supplementary drugs during the treatment because the use of hRPE cells means that patients do not have immunosuppressive reactions. Specifically, hRPE cells are introduced into the region of the brain where the damaged cells reside, and medications that “fertilize” the area are taken which help the cells survive.
"Our medical solution gives a new ray of hope for all patients around the world suffering from formerly untreatable neural diseases like Parkinson's disease, Cerebral Palsy and Stroke. We are all very happy for Penny and are excited to see the improvement in her condition,” said Dr. Sherwood, Vice President of Tiantan Puhua Hospital.
When nerve cells in the brain die or become damaged, the brain disorder Parkinson’s disease is the result. Dopamine is an essential chemical which is responsible for smooth and coordinated movement of the body. The normal function of the nerve cells in the brain is due to the production of Dopamine. Damaged nerve cells result in a lack of Dopamine, and ultimately cause the Parkinson’s symptoms of slow movement, freeze ups, balance difficulties, shaking (tremors) and the stiffness of the muscles.
4 years ago Penny was diagnosed with Parkinson’s by doctors in the USA. She has since experienced ever single symptom of the disease. Penny often experienced "freeze ups" while walking whereby she would stop and not be able to continue her motion. She had given up reading and writing and operations most people take for granted, such as holding a telephone, getting dressed, brushing her hair or even turning her neck, she had extreme difficulty performing. She experienced severe difficulty getting out of a bed or chair by herself, she had constant shaking in her hands, and could only eat if her food was prepared for her in a way that allowed her to use a spoon or her fingers. Her muscles were very tense, yet extremely weak.
Penny said she got her life back after two months of stem cell therapy, which included rehabilitation and neurological nutritional balancing. Penny’s shaking was greatly reduced, her strength increased, her freeze ups stopped, her movement became more fluid, and her muscle tension disappeared. She can now get out of bed immediately without any assistance.
To date, over 20 Parkinson’s patients have been treated using the hRPE cells. All cases have exhibited increased dopamine in their metabolism and improved control of movement. Long term follow up information has not yet been released but the outlook of continued progress is most likely. Penny is the only known American citizen treated for Parkinson's using this type of stem cell treatment.