In the late 1980s, when a moratorium had been imposed on US federal financing for all medical research involving fetal tissue, one of the first open-label trials of fetal dopaminergic cell transplantation in Parkinson disease (PD) was undertaken by researchers in Lund, Sweden. Nearly 30 years since the first patient was enrolled, the topic of cell transplantation in PD has transformed, with a handful of open-label trials, 2 sham-controlled studies, and a great deal of academic controversy. The report in JAMA Neurology by Kefalopoulou et al1 describes the positive long-term clinical outcome of 2 participants from the original Lund transplantation study. This represents the longest clinical follow-up data available on mesencephalic transplanted cells in the PD population. The observations presented in this report are important but anomalous of the existing body of data on the topic of cell transplantation in this field. Furthermore, data from graft studies may have implications for stem cell–derived transplants in the future; thus, the authors’ warning that “any conclusions [from the observations presented here] should be drawn with caution” is well heeded.
Bega D, Krainc D. Long-term Clinical Outcomes After Fetal Cell Transplantation in Parkinson DiseaseImplications for the Future of Cell Therapy. JAMA. 2014;311(6):617-618. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.285516