clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:


For the first time, doctors have transplanted tissue from a pig into the brain of a man with Parkinson's disease in an attempt to reverse this debilitating illness.

If successful, the treatment will give doctors a limitless alternative to human fetal tissue, which is used now.Previous attempts at cross-species transplants to cure human ills have failed. However, doctors say they believe there is a good chance this one will succeed, in part because the body's immune system defenses are weaker in the brain and thus less likely to reject foreign matter.

"We have great hope this will work," said Dr. James M. Schu-macher, who performed the operation at Lahey Hitchcock Clinic in suburban Burlington.

Between 500,000 and 1.5 million Americans have Parkinson's disease, which causes muscle rigidity and tremors and makes movement difficult. The disease results from the death of specialized brain cells that make dopamine, a chemical the brain uses to communicate.