Scientists working on utilising stem cell therapy for Parkinsons treatmentJanuary 19th, 2008 - 1:45 pm ICT by admin
Washington , Jan 19 (ANI): Swedish scientists are developing new ways to utilise stem cell therapy for developing brain cells in the laboratory, that may be used for the treatment of Parkinsons disease in future.
The research, led by Professor Ernest Arenas of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm , was presented at the EuroSTELLS Stem Cell Niches conference in Barcelona .
Parkinsons disease results from the loss of a particular type of brain cell called dopaminergic (DA) neurons in the part of the brain called the substantia nigra.
The idea is to start with stem cells and induce them to become neurons. These could then be transplanted into the brain of the patient. Also, such cells could be ideal for developing and testing new drugs to treat brain disease, said Professor Arenas.
For the study, the researchers studied the development of DA neurons in animals in order to find out the important biological molecules in the brain, necessary for the cells to grow and function efficiently.
One specific molecule that seemed to be a key protein, called Wnt5a, was identified. It was shown that when this molecule, together with a second protein called noggin, was included in cultures of stem cells, a greater number DA neurons were produced than when these ingredients were not present.
Later, a series of molecular, chemical and electrophysiological tests were carried out on the newly grown neurons to check their proficiency, which was shown to be good.
Also, instead of embryonic stem cells, which can be induced to grow into a wide variety of cells, the team used neural stem cells, which are programmed to develop only into nerve cells and not in a wide variety of different cells.
Promising results were observed when the researchers transplanted the cells into laboratory animals whose substantia nigra region of the brain was damaged.
We reversed almost completely the behavioural abnormalities, and neurons differentiated, survived and re-innervated the relevant part of the brain better. Furthermore we do not see the kind of proliferation of the cells that has occurred in the past and we get very little clustering when the cells are treated with Wnt5a. The cells are safer than embryonic stem cells and more efficient than fetal tissue, said Professor Arenas.
Verification of this approach with human cells is ongoing, and if the study is successful, it may lead to a clinical trial.
Experts in the field have recently identified this approach as the next step in cell replacement therapy for Parkinsons disease and the hope is that this may, ultimately, lead to cells suitable for transplant into human patients. (ANI)
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