Reprogrammed stem cells to treat Parkinson's disease



Researchers from Japan have announced the commencement of a clinical trial for the treatment of Parkinson's disease with neurological material obtained from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS).

Parkinson's disease is an outcome of the death of specialised cells present in the brain that produce the neurotransmitter dopamine.A shortage of dopamine leads to a deterioration of motor skills which, in turn, leads to walking difficulties and involuntary trembling.Dementia may also develop there, as the disease progresses.

In the new therapy, already mature cells undergo chemical modification in order to return to their early developmental stage, from which they are theoretically enabled to differentiate into any specialised cell of the organism. Owing to this, the research team will eventually inject dopaminergic progenitors ? namely cell types that develop into dopamine-producing neurons ? directly into the area of the patient's brain that is known for playing a crucial role in the development of the neural degeneration being associated with the Parkinson's disease.The research was led by Jun Takahashi ? a neurosurgeon at the Centre for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA) of Kyoto University ? and in cooperation with Kyoto University Hospital.

Clinical trials will rely on the extraction of dopaminergic progenitors from iPS cells and injecting them at the base of the forebrain.For this purpose, surgeons will drill two small holes in the patient's skull and proceed to use a specialised device to inject approx. 5 million cells through them. The patient recruitment has already begun.The team are planning to find 7 volunteers and subject them to monitoring for 2 years following the treatment.

Source: sciencemag


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