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Cell Transplant. 2000 Mar-Apr;9(2):273-8.

Porcine xenografts in Parkinson's disease and Huntington's disease patients: preliminary results.

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  • 1Genzyme Corporation, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.


The observation that fetal neurons are able to survive and function when transplanted into the adult brain fostered the development of cellular therapy as a promising approach to achieve neuronal replacement for treatment of diseases of the adult central nervous system. This approach has been demonstrated to be efficacious in patients with Parkinson's disease after transplantation of human fetal neurons. The use of human fetal tissue is limited by ethical, infectious, regulatory, and practical concerns. Other mammalian fetal neural tissue could serve as an alternative cell source. Pigs are a reasonable source of fetal neuronal tissue because of their brain size, large litters, and the extensive experience in rearing them in captivity under controlled conditions. In Phase I studies porcine fetal neural cells grafted unilaterally into Parkinson's disease (PD) and Huntington's disease (HD) patients are being evaluated for safety and efficacy. Clinical improvement of 19% has been observed in the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale "off" state scores in 10 PD patients assessed 12 months after unilateral striatal transplantation of 12 million fetal porcine ventral mesencephalic (VM) cells. Several patients have improved more than 30%. In a single autopsied PD patient some porcine fetal VM cells were observed to survive 7 months after transplantation. Twelve HD patients have shown a favorable safety profile and no change in total functional capacity score 1 year after unilateral striatal placement of up to 24 million fetal porcine striatal cells. Xenotransplantation of fetal porcine neurons is a promising approach to delivery of healthy neurons to the CNS. The major challenges to the successful use of xenogeneic fetal neuronal cells in neurodegenerative diseases appear to be minimizing immune-mediated rejection, management of the risk of xenotic (cross-species) infections, and the accurate assessment of clinical outcome of diseases that are slowly progressive.

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