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How Pig Cells Could be Used to Slow Parkinson’s Disease

close-up of hands of man with Parkinson’s Disease

Can pig islet cells offer a way to combat Parkinson’s disease?

That’s what researchers at Living Cell Technologies in New Zealand hope to learn with the help of research swine.

Over the past few years, this firm has been implanting cells from the choroid plexus of a pig into the brains of Parkinson’s patients to attempt to stop the illness’ progression.

“The approach is still in the early stages, but initial results from four people look promising, with all showing some improvement 18 months after surgery,” New Scientist reported last year. “Last month, surgery was completed on a further 18 people in a placebo-controlled trial…. The hope is that compounds made by these cells will nourish the remaining dopamine-producing cells in the patients’ brains, slowing further loss.”

Parkinson’s is a degenerative disease caused by the gradual loss of the cells in our brain that produce dopamine, which helps control our movements. People with the illness experience tremors and difficulty moving, which worsens over time.

In this procedure, pig islet cells are housed inside a layer of porous alginate, which allows their growth factors to enter the brain tissue but doesn’t permit the patient’s immune system to damage the cells.

Similar studies have been conducted using pig islet cells to combat diabetes, and there is hope that this research will also help treat Huntington and Alzheimer’s disease as well.

It’s yet another example of how research swine are playing a crucial role in neurological disease studies due to the biological similarities between pigs and humans.

In the past, we’ve written about studies involve pig models and Huntington’s disease and diabetes. And Animal Biotech is proud of the role it’s played in studies like these. Contact us today to learn how our live pig models and post-mortem tissue can assist you in your next project.