An investigational treatment in which dopaminergic brain cells are taken from the brain of fetal pigs and transplanted into the brain of a person with Parkinson’s disease. This procedure is being explored as an alternative to fetal dopaminergic brain cell transplant, which is highly controversial because the cells used for transplant are taken from aborted human fetuses. As with fetal human dopaminergic brain cell transplant, the donor cells are extracted from the brain tissue of the porcine fetus, prepared in a solution, and injected into a catheter that is carefully threaded into the striatum and substan-tia nigra of the person with Parkinson’s, where they seed and reproduce.
Although the numbers of people who have received this highly experimental treatment are small, fetal porcine brain cell transplant appears to be at least as successful as fetal human dopaminergic brain cell transplant. It may also have fewer risks, particularly of cross-infection from the donor, as porcine pathogens do not transfer to humans. Research continues to explore this and other neural graft possibilities.