Plans to trial transplanting pig cells into the brains of New Zealanders with
Parkinson's disease have cleared a major hurdle with the Ministry of Health
granting ethical approval.
The ministry's health and disability ethics committee granted approval ahead
of trials due to begin in the first quarter of next year, the company behind the
trials, Living Cell Technologies (LCT), said on Friday.
Medsafe gave LCT regulatory authorisation last month.
It took about two years for LCT to get ethical approval following regulatory
authorisation in 2007 for its pig cell diabetes treatment trial.
"We are extremely pleased to have received ethical approval in such an
efficient timeframe," said LCT managing director Andrea Grant.
LCT will now need to get a good manufacturing practices licence for the trial
Pre-clinical trials suggest the Parkinson's treatment, known as NTCELL, can
protect brain tissue which would otherwise die, potentially delaying or
preventing the effects of the neurodegenerative disease.
Only those who have been diagnosed with Parkinson's for at least four years
will be part of the study, which will last for up to 60 weeks.
The trial will involve patients getting either the pig cells or the current
gold standard of treatment - deep brain stimulation.