A group of Japanese researchers led by Prof. Jun Takahashi at the University of Kyoto has announced that within a month clinical trials with transplantation of so-called IPS cells will start.
IPS stands for "induced-pluripotent stem-cells", which are taken from skin cells, taken back to the status of stem cells and then developed into dopamine-producing cells. These are then implanted in the brain of Parkinson’s sufferers to grow on there, thus replacing the body’s own cells that die off during the course of the disease.
To do this, the Japanese researchers are using only a few stem-cell lines as they are assuming that they can cover the genetically relatively homogeneous population of Japan. It is still not clear at the moment though whether the immune system of the transplantee will identify the cells so produced as foreign cells and kill them.