Stem cell therapy reportedly reduces seizures in mice, according to a new research. This achievement represents an important proof-of-concept for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, paving the way for clinical trials in humans. Parkinson’s is one of the commonest neurodegenerative diseases.
There is no cure for the disease, but medication and brain stimulation can alleviate symptoms. The disease is caused by the loss of nerve cells in the brain that produce the chemical dopamine ,which helps to control mood and movement.
Researchers in Lund University, Sweden believe that they are now on the verge of trying the first stem cell transplantation in patients with Parkinson’s disease, thanks to a new breakthrough in stem cell research, that has been published in detail in the journal Cell Stem Cell.
There have not yet been any human clinical trials of these stem-cell developed neurons. Malin Parmar, leader of the study, says that this study shows that fully functioning dopamine cells can be produced from stem cells. The next step is to create the same cells for human use, and getting such cells ready for clinical study could take up to 3 years.
To simulate Parkinson’s, Lund University researchers killed dopamine-producing neurons on one side of the rats’ brains. They then converted human embryonic stem cells into neurons that produced dopamine. These were injected into the rats’ brains, and the researchers found evidence that the damage was reversed.
In both brain slices and live mice, microdialysis high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) showed that the transplanted pNSC-DAns cells were able to rescue the production of dopamine. However, while microdialysis HPLC was able to unequivocally show that dopamine was indeed produced, it was not able to show that the transplanted cells were producing the dopamine rather than existing brain cells that were stimulated by the procedure.
Malin Parmar, associate professor of developmental and regenerative neurobiology, said: “It’s a huge breakthrough in the field [and] a stepping stone towards clinical trials.” Its director of research and development, Arthur Roach, said: “This important research is a key step along the way in helping us to understand how stem cells might shape future Parkinson’s treatments. “There are important potential advantages of these cells over the foetal-derived cells used in past cell transplantation work.”