Doctors have plans to take the fight to Parkinson's disease in a new way: with stem cells. According to an announcement by the International Stem Cell Corporation, the Therapeutics Goods Administration of Australia cleared Carlsbad-based International Stem Cell Corp( ISCO) to initiate a Phase 1/11a clinical trial, which would allow the company to use human parthenogenetic stem cells-derived neural stem cells on patients suffering from Parkinson's Disease. It may be the first time this has ever happened.

ISCO's Chief Executive Officer, Andrey Semechkin, is ecstatic about the possibilities saying that it opens up new frontiers in the fight against this disease.

"Each year close to 60,000

people are diagnosed with Parkinson's disease."

"We are very pleased to start the first human study of ISC-hpNSC's for the treatment of this debilitating disease. There is a large unmet medical need for new treatments that may halt or reverse the progression of Parkinson's disease and we believe our human neural stem cells may fill this need for the millions of people with this disease" commented Semechkin. "We look forward to reporting on the progress of the clinical trial over the coming months."

Each year close to 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson's disease  This does not account for the thousands of cases that go undetected. As many as one million Americans currently live with the disease.

Parkinson's affects the brain's nerve cells that produce dopamine. Symptoms include muscle rigidity, tremors and changes in speech and gait. Treatments are available to help contain the disease, but there is no cure. Doctors hope to change that by using stem cell treatments.