The Stanford Parkinson’s Disease Plasma Study

# # # #

Researchers in California have been conducting a different kind of Parkinson’s clinical trial. Rather than testing a drug or a special diet/exercise regime, they have been giving participants in their study a regular infusion of plasma.

If you remove all of the cells from blood, the yellowish liquid that remains is called plasma. In medicine, plasma is usually used to boost a patient’s blood volume to help reduce shock. But recently researchers have been experimenting with giving older individuals infusions of plasma collected from young individuals to see if this has any beneficial effects.

A group of researchers at Stanford University have been leading a study examining the safety of infusions of plasma (collected from young people) in a cohort of individuals with Parkinson’s. This week they published the results of their study.

In today’s post, we will discuss what plasma is made of, why young plasma may help in neurodegenerative conditions, and review the results of the new study.

# # # #

Source: KhanAcademy

There are three chief components of blood:

  • Red blood cells
  • White blood cells
  • Plasma

Red blood cells carry oxygen to distant parts of the body and they also remove carbon dioxide. And by volume, the red blood cells constitute about 45% of whole blood. White blood cells are the immune cells, fighting off infections etc. And they – this may surprise you – make up only 0.7% of whole blood.

That might sound like a tiny fraction, but understand that within a single drop of blood (50 ul) there are approximately 5 million red blood cells, and 5,000 to 25,000 white blood cells.

Apologies to the squeamish. Source: Science

And in total the human body contains about 4.5 litres (or 1.2 gallons) of blood. That’s a whole lot of drops. Plenty of white blood cells to help keep us healthy.

And what about plasma?

Plasma is the stuff that all of the red and white blood cells sit in. It has a yellowish tinge to it, and it makes up the other 54.3% of whole blood.

It contains 92% water and 8% ‘other stuff’.

Apologies for the very technical term (‘other stuff’), but there is a great deal of interesting stuff in that ‘other stuff’.

What do you mean ‘interesting’?

Continue reading “The Stanford Parkinson’s Disease Plasma Study”

From Alchemy to Alkahest


Numerous readers have asked about a curious new clinical trial being conducted by a biotech firm called ‘Alkahest’. The company has recently initiated a large (90 participants) Phase II study of their Parkinson’s-focused treatment called GRF6021.

This is an experimental, intravenously-administered treatment, which is derived from a components of blood.

In today’s post, we will discuss some of the research behind GRF6021, what this new clinical trial involves, and have a look at some other interesting Parkinson’s-related activities that Alkahest has ongoing.


Source: SFN

The Society of Neuroscience meeting is the largest annual research conference on brain relelated research, bringing approximately 40,000 neuroscientists together in October. At the Society of Neuroscience meeting in San Diego this year, however, there was considerable interest focused on several presentations dealing with blood.

The first presentation was from a group of researchers at the University of California, San Francisco.

The research team – led by group leader Dr Saul Villeda – were presenting new data suggesting that circulating immune cells were most likely responsible for the age-related reduction in neurogenesis (formation of new neurons) that occurs in certain areas of the brain (Click here to read the abstract for this presentation). They reported that the aged hematopoietic (blood) system led to impaired neurogenesis. Their take-home-message: the older the blood system, the less new cells being produced by the brain.

Sounds interesting right?

Well, at the same time in another part of the conference a second group of researchers were presenting equally impressive data: They have zeroed in of a small fraction of normal, young blood that they believe has interesting properties, particularly in reversing the cognitive deficits associated with aging mice (Click here to read the abstract of this presentation).

Their research has even narrowed down to a specific protein, called C-C chemokine receptor type 3 (or CCR3), which when inhibited was found to improve cognitive function and decreased neuroinflammation in aged mice (Click here to read the abstract of the presentation).

The humble lab mouse. Source: Pinterest

But specifically for our interests here at the SoPD, these same researchers displayed data which demonstrated that treatment with a novel fraction of human plasma resulted in significant improvements in motor function, cell survival and neuroinflammation three weeks after treatment in multiple mouse models of Parkinson’s (Click here to read the abstract of the poster).

(PLEASE NOTE: The author of this blog was not present at the SFN meeting and is working solely with the abstracts provided)

This second group of scientists were from a company called Alkahest, and they have recently started a clinical trial for people with Parkinson’s based on these results. That trial has garnered quite a bit of interest in the Parkinson’s community.What do Alkahest do?

Continue reading “From Alchemy to Alkahest”