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An Update on Human Stem Cell-Based Therapy in Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder after Alzheimer’s disease and it is characterized by the progressive loss of dopaminergic neurons of the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc). Current pharmacological treatments for PD are only symptomatic and unfortunately there is still no cure for this disorder. Stem cell technology has become an attractive option to investigate and treat PD. Indeed, transplantation of fetal ventral mesencephalic cells into PD brains have provided proof of concept that cell replacement therapy can be beneficial for some patients, greatly improving their motor symptoms. However, ethical and practical aspects of tissue availability limit its widespread clinical use. Hence, the need of alternative cell sources are based on the use of different types of stem cells. Stem cell-based therapies can be beneficial by acting through several mechanisms such as cell replacement, trophic actions and modulation of inflammation. Here we review recent and current remarkable clinical studies involving stem cell-based therapy for PD and provide an overview of the different types of stem cells available nowadays, their main properties and how they are developing as a possible therapy for PD treatment.