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Parkinson’s patients try pig cells implanted in brain

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You can get a lot more from pigs than just pork chops … in fact they might just be the key component in a new treatment for Parkinson’s disease, according to a New Zealand trial.

Four months after receiving NTCELL — a new treatment for Parkinson’s disease which involves implanting pig cells in the brain — all four patients are fairing well and reporting no safety concerns in the Living Cell Technologies Limited’s Phase I/IIa clinical study.

NTCELL, a unique cell therapy, is an alginate coated capsule containing clusters of neonatal porcine choroid plexus cells that are sourced from a herd of designated pathogen-free pigs bred from stock originally discovered in the remote sub Antarctic Auckland Islands. Choroid plexus cells are naturally occurring “support” cells for the brain and secrete cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), which contains a range of factors that support nerve cell functions and protective enzymes that are crucial for nerve growth and healthy functioning.

In NTCELL, the porcine choroid plexus cells are coated with LCT’s propriety technology IMMUPEL to protect them from attack by the immune system. Therefore, no immunosuppressive regimen is required for treatment. Following implantation into a damaged site within the brain, NTCELL functions as a neurochemical factory producing CSF and secreting multiple nerve growth factors that promote new central nervous system (CNS) growth and repair disease – induced nerve degeneration while potentially removing waste products such as amyloids and proteins.

NTCELL has also shown in preclinical studies the abililty to regenerate damaged tissue and restore function in animal models of Parkinson’s disease, stroke, Huntington’s disease, hearing loss, and other non-neurological conditions, such as wound healing. In addition to Parkinson’s disease, NTCELL has the potential to be used in a number of other CNS indications, including Huntington’s, Alzheimer’s, and motor neurone diseases including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

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