Cryopreservation, culture, and transplantation of human fetal mesencephalic tissue into monkeys
Studies in animals suggest that fetal neural grafts might restore lost neurological function in Parkinson's disease. In monkeys, such grafts survive for many months and reverse signs of parkinsonism, without attendant graft rejection. The successful and reliable application of a similar transplantation procedure to human patients, however, will require neural tissue obtained from human fetal cadavers, with demonstrated cellular identity, viability, and biological safety. In this report, human fetal neural tissue was successfully grafted into the brains of monkeys. Neural tissue was collected from human fetal cadavers after 9 to 12 weeks of gestation and cryopreserved in liquid nitrogen. Viability after up to 2 months of storage was demonstrated by cell culture and by transplantation into monkeys. Cryopreservation and storage of human fetal neural tissue would allow formation of a tissue bank. The stored cells could then be specifically tested to assure their cellular identity, viability, and bacteriological and virological safety before clinical use. The capacity to collect and maintain viable human fetal neural tissue would also facilitate research efforts to understand the development and function of the human brain and provide opportunities to study neurological diseases.