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Neural Stem Cells Help Diminish Parkinson's Disease

SAWF News, December 5, 2006

In an effort to improve Parkinsonís disease symptoms, U.S. medical scientists claim that brain cells derived from neural stem cells can help.

A progressive loss of movement control characterizes the disease. In the study, which was conducted on mice, scientists discovered that the rodentís brain continued to function normally rather than display the traits of Parkinsonís.

ďWe are very cautious but to us, itís an indication that stem cells have promise for Parkinsonís disease,Ē says Dr. Cesario, neuroscientist at the Medical College of Georgia also the corresponding author of the study.

A neurotoxin was administered to destroy neurons that create dopamine, a key neurotransmitter in regards to movement control. The transplants were performed soon after says Dr. Cesario. A patient receiving treatment early in the disease process would be the most accurate duplication of the experiment in humans.

The researchers noted that the animals that received conventional treatment did not recover while those that received transplants regained control of their movement. Other animals gained partial recovery when given neurotrophic factors, called stem cell factors.

The stem cell factor protected cells in a dose-dependent fashion.

ďThe more stem cell factor, the better the protection,Ē Cesario says

Protection was further amplified when the cells were co-cultured with stem cells. Neuro-protection was significantly reduced when an antibody was used to block the stem cell factor.

ďThis again shows a combination of factors at work. Itís a synergistic effect,Ē says Cesario.

Even before symptoms start to show, Parkinsonís disease does a lot of damage to dopaminergic cells. The loss of these cells makes it difficult for individuals to move and, once they do move, it is abnormal and they canít control the movement. Tremors are a common example.

A synthetic dopamine called L-dopa is the normal existing treatment. It tends to minimize symptoms for three to five years. Doses are increased since the drug becomes less effective as the disease progresses. The crescendo dosing can produce more dyskinesia (loss of controlled movement).

The Journal of Neuroscience (ANI) has published the research in its latest issue.


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