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14 Nov 2016 264 Comments

Forecast of hope in Parkinson’s disease using Stem Cells

Researchers from Lund University & Karolinska Institute in Stockholm report of two different studies that can help in harvesting high-quality dopamine neurons using stem cells.

One of these studies delves into the molecular pathway that connects the stem cell to the dopamine neurons and the other that defines few key features of dopamine cell development. The scientists believe that these studies can help in fine-tuning the stem cell engineering to produce flocks of high- quality dopamine neurons that can bust the brain-wasting disease of Parkinson’s.

Parkinson’s is a progressive neuronal degenerative condition that results due to depletion of the neurotransmitter called dopamine. This disease grossly affects the movements of a person causing symptoms such as tremors, muscle rigidity, shuffling gait, slurred speech, speech problems, postural changes, dementia and mask-like appearance. Most death in Parkinson’s disease results due to respiratory failure and slow peristaltic movements of the gastrointestinal tract.

Parkinson’s disease is very common amongst the elderly, affects men over women and the total cost of handling this disease in the US alone is around 25 billion per year.

The dopamine-producing neurons in the brain are called the Substantia nigra. As these neurons begin to malfunction they produce lower levels of dopamine thereby causing impaired movement.

Now with stem cell engineering, there is a great sense of hope to infuse a huge pool of progenitor cells into the brain of these patients, to create new supplies of dopamine-producing neurons.

The major challenge in these studies is to monitor the quality of the stem cells infused because it is tough to keep track of them within the brain. Nearly 30 batches of human embryonic stem cells infused showed predictive markers of high-quality dopamine yield through it.

Using these markers obtained from these studies scientists are sure that stem cells can definitely bring a great breakthrough in combating this killer disease of Parkinson’s in the years to come.




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