Parkinson's Disease Fact Sheet
CIRM has a strong focus on Parkinson's Disease research, funding basic projects coaxing stem cells to mature into the neurons affected by Parkinson's disease as well as projects turning those basic discoveries into future therapies.
If you want to learn more about CIRM funding decisions or make a comment directly to our board, join us at a public meeting. You can find agendas for upcoming public meetings on our meetings page.
Find clinical trials:
CIRM does not track stem cell clinical trials. If you or a family member is interested in participating in a clinical trial, please see the national trial database to find a trial near you: clinicaltrials.gov
The role of stem cells in Parkinson's disease
Parkinson's disease occurs when the neurons or nerve cells in the portion of the brain that controls movement stop functioning properly. These neurons send signals using a molecule called dopamine, and are referred to as dopaminergic neurons. About 500,000 people are currently living with Parkinson’s disease in the U.S.. Although there are drugs that can help with symptoms of the disease there is no cure.
Stem cell scientists are taking two general approaches to understanding and treating this disease. The first approach involves understanding the disease and looking for new drugs to treat it. CIRM grantees have taken skin cells from people with Parkinson’s disease, reprogrammed them back to an embryonic-like state, turning them into the kind of stem cell that can be transformed into any other cell in the body, then coaxing those cells to become the type of neuron that is affected by Parkinson’s disease. Those cells showed signs of the disease in the lab dish, and were distinctly different from the same cells created from healthy people.
Being able to study human Parkinson’s disease cells in a lab dish is a major milestone. Now, scientists can expose those cells to different drugs to find the ones that eliminate signs of the disease. If scientists find drugs that treat the disease in a lab dish, they will then test those same drugs in animals and develop the most promising into a therapy for people with the disease. Several teams of CIRM-funded researchers are using stem cell techniques to create Parkinson’s disease cells in the lab dish and then screening them for new drugs.
Other groups are creating dopamine-producing cells in the lab dish with the hope that they could replace the neurons that are damaged in people with the disease.
Progress and Promise in Developing a Cure for Parkinson's Disease
CIRM Grants Targeting Parkinson's Disease
CIRM Parkinson's Disease Videos
News and Information
- Breakthrough method produces Parkinson’s disease patient-specific stem cells free of harmful reprogramming genes (Whitehead Institute)
- Stem Cells for Parkinson’s Disease: Breakthrough or Hype? (Wired)
- Research Aims for New Parkinson's Treatment (UCSF)
- NIH: Parkinson's Disease Information
- Find a clinical trial near you: NIH Clinical Trials database
- National Parkinson Foundation
- Parkinson's Action Network
- Parkinson's Disease Foundation
- Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research
- The Parkinson's Institute
- Stem Cell Network Parkinson's disease page
- Family Caregiver Alliance
- National Family Caregivers Association
- The Movement Disorders Society