News Editor: Renato M.E. Sabbatini, PhD
Grafts of Pig Nerve Cells for the Treatment of Parkinsonís Disease
The successful transplantation of pig nerve cells into a human brain is the new weapon of medical research against Parkinsonís disease, a nervous disease characterized by tremor, rigidity and other disabling signs.This disease is caused by a loss of nerve cells in the basal ganglia, a part of the brain responsible for the control and coordination of movement. Previous works had shown that the surgical implantation of human fetal tissue into this part of the brain may reactivate the lost functions and decrease Parkinsonís symptoms, but this procedure has remained controversial due to anti-abortion issues. Researchers from Massachusetts reported that nerve cells from the fetus of a pig had survived more than 6 months in the brain of a 60-year-old Parkinsonís patient; opening the way for the use of brain transplantations of other species.
Nature Medicine, Volume 3 Number 5 - May 1997, p. 474