Fetal cells tried for Huntington's.
The controversy surrounding fetal tissue research Scientific experimentation performed upon or using tissue taken from human fetuses.
Although fetal tissue research has led to medical advances, including the development of the polio and rubella vaccines in the 1950s, it has also generated controversy because of its use of has slowed, but not halted, progress in the field. The use of transplanted fetal brain tissue to replace brain cells lost in Parkinson's disease patients Famous people, past and present, with Parkinson's include: Living
In the United States:
The most severely affected patient, who had been wheelchair-bound, briefly regained the ability to walk, though his condition has since deteriorated dramatically, says Kopyov. The mental and motor skills of the two other patients, whose symptoms were much milder, continue to improve 8 to 9 months after surgery, he adds.
It remains unclear whether or how the fetal cells are helping these patients. Experience from work on Parkinson's disease suggested that patients would see no improvement for many months, a period during which fetal cells presumably pre·sum·a·ble
That can be presumed or taken for granted; reasonable as a supposition: presumable causes of the disaster. grow and establish connections within the brain. Yet Kopyov's group found that the three Huntington patients began to improve within weeks of the surgery. "I don't understand it," admits Kopyov.
Another research group has also begun treating Huntington's patients with fetal cells, but this team uses porcine porcine /por·cine/ (por´sin) pertaining to swine.
pertaining to pig. See also hog (1), swine.
porcine circovirus 1
a nonpathogenic virus. tissue. Five Huntington's patients have recently received fetal pig brain cells, and another seven transplants are scheduled, says Jonathan H. Dinsmore, director of cell transplantation at Diacrin, the Charlestown, Mass., biotech firm funding the trial. Dinsmore and his colleagues hope to establish that fetal brain cells from pigs offer a safe substitute in treating Parkinson's and other neurological illnesses (SN: 10/7/95, p. 230), thus avoiding the political controversy of using human fetal cells and the difficulty of obtaining tissue.
Dinsmore cautions that it will take a significant amount of time and testing to determine whether fetal brain cells, human or porcine, help people with Huntington's disease. "You need at least a year's data to know if there's anything more than a placebo effect," he says.