In this commentary we discuss International Stem Cell Corporation's (ISCO's) approach to developing a pluripotent stem cell based treatment for Parkinson's disease (PD). In 2016, ISCO received approval to conduct the world's first clinical study of a pluripotent stem cell based therapy for PD. The Australian regulatory agency Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and the Melbourne Health's Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) independently reviewed ISCO's extensive preclinical data and granted approval for the evaluation of a novel human parthenogenetic derived neural stem cell (NSC) line, ISC-hpNSC, in a PD phase 1 clinical trial ( ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02452723). This is a single-center, open label, dose escalating 12-month study with a 5-year follow-up evaluating a number of objective and patient-reported safety and efficacy measures. A total of 6 years of safety and efficacy data will be collected from each patient. Twelve participants are recruited in this study with four participants per single dose cohort of 30, 50, and 70 million ISC-hpNSC. The grafts are placed bilaterally in the caudate nucleus, putamen, and substantia nigra by magnetic resonance imaging-guided stereotactic surgery. Participants are 30-70 years old with idiopathic PD ≤13 years duration and unified PD rating scale motor score (Part III) in the "OFF" state ≤49. This trial is fully funded by ISCO with no economic involvement from the patients. It is worth noting that ISCO underwent an exhaustive review process and successfully answered the very comprehensive, detailed, and specific questions posed by the TGA and HREC. The regulatory/ethic review process is based on applying scientific and clinical expertise to decision-making, to ensure that the benefits to consumers outweigh any risks associated with the use of medicines or novel therapies.
Keywords: ISC-hpNSC; Parkinson's disease; immunomodulation; neuroregeneration; neurotrophic support; stem cell therapy.