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Health Agencies Update
May 19, 1999

Parkinson Disease Implants

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JAMA. 1999;281(19):1784. doi:10.1001/jama.281.19.1784

Long-awaited results from the first randomized, controlled clinical trial of fetal brain cell implants for Parkinson disease suggest that the technique may benefit younger individuals but not those older than age 60.

Findings from the trial, which was funded by the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), were presented last month at American Academy of Neurology's annual meeting.

Half of the 40 participants received dopamine-producing brain cells from aborted fetuses, which investigators injected into the putamen through four small holes drilled in the skull. The other half underwent a sham procedure: surgeons drilled skull holes resembling those of the treated patients but did not penetrate the dura.