Therapy to replace brain cells lost to Parkinson's performs well in monkey study

Japanese researchers have successfully tested a brain cell-replacement therapy that might undo the ravages of Parkinson's disease, the journal Nature reported Wednesday.
By Linda Mack | Sep 01, 2017
Japanese researchers have successfully tested a brain cell-replacement therapy that might undo the ravages of Parkinson's disease, the journal Nature reported Wednesday. The researchers, affiliated with the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application at Kyoto University, reported promising reductions in Parkinson's symptoms in monkeys via the procedure and said that testing it in people will be the next step.

The researchers extracted neurons from iPS cells, a type of cell they derive from adult human stem cells. They transplanted these neurons into monkeys suffering from Parkinson's and observed them for two whole years. Most monkeys showed varying degrees of reduced symptoms and restored brain function, the researchers said.

Parkinson's progressively destroys the brain's dopaminogenic (DA) neurons, which transmit dopamine, according to the researchers, who added that most patients don't experience major symptoms until half or more of their DA neurons are already gone. They hope to use the iPS cell therapy to both halt the disease's brain destructionsomething no treatments today can dobut to undo any already-existing brain damage.
"This is extremely promising research demonstrating that a safe and highly effective cell therapy for Parkinson's can be produced in the lab," said Tilo Kunath, a regenerative medicine researcher at the University of Edinburgh. "Such a therapy has the potential to reverse the symptoms of Parkinson's in patients by restoring their dopamine-producing neurons."
Similar research efforts are under way now in Great Britain, as well as Sweden, Australia, and U.S. labs in New York and San Diego. Some researchers anticipate applying the therapy to other neurogenerative diseases besides Parkinson's: It might enable recovery from Lou Gehrig's and Alzheimer's diseases, they suggest.

---

Have something to say? Let us know in the comments section or send an email to the author. You can share ideas for stories by contacting us here.

Comments
Comments should take into account that readers may hold different opinions. With that in mind, please make sure comments are respectful, insightful, and remain focused on the article topic.