Cell therapy has attracted considerable interest as a promising therapeutic alternative for patients with Parkinson's disease (PD). Clinical studies have shown that grafted fetal neural tissue can achieve considerable biochemical and clinical improvements in PD. However, the source of fetal tissue grafts is limited and ethically controversial. Human parthenogenetic stem cells offer a good alternative because they are derived from unfertilized oocytes without destroying potentially viable human embryos and can be used to generate an unlimited supply of neural cells for transplantation. We have previously reported that human parthenogenetic stem cell-derived neural stem cells (hpNSCs) successfully engraft, survive long term, and increase brain dopamine (DA) levels in rodent and nonhuman primate models of PD. Here we report the results of a 12-month transplantation study of hpNSCs in 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP)-lesioned African green monkeys with moderate to severe clinical parkinsonian symptoms. The hpNSCs manufactured under current good manufacturing practice (cGMP) conditions were injected bilaterally into the striatum and substantia nigra of immunosuppressed monkeys. Transplantation of hpNSCs was safe and well tolerated by the animals with no dyskinesia, tumors, ectopic tissue formation, or other test article-related serious adverse events. We observed that hpNSCs promoted behavioral recovery; increased striatal DA concentration, fiber innervation, and number of dopaminergic neurons; and induced the expression of genes and pathways downregulated in PD compared to vehicle control animals. These results provide further evidence for the clinical translation of hpNSCs and support the approval of the world's first pluripotent stem cell-based phase I/IIa study for the treatment of PD (Clinical Trial Identifier NCT02452723).
Keywords: Cell therapy; Human parthenogenetic stem cells (hpSCs); Neural stem cells (NSCs); Parkinson's disease (PD); Pluripotent stem cells.