Monday, 10 December 2012

Dopaminergic neurons derived from stem cells improve motor function in parkinsonian monkeys

In a recently published study, a team of researchers led by Takuya Hayashi at the RIKEN Center for Molecular Imaging Science in Kobe, Japan, showed that it is possible to improve motor function in monkeys with Parkinson's, by transplanting them with dopaminergic neurons, derived from bone marrow stem cells.

The Japanese researchers first extracted and isolated bone marrow stem cells from the monkeys and then differentiated them into dopaminergic neurons. Then, the same monkeys were given a chemical treatment that induces the Parkinson's condition. The study showed that the monkeys that received the autologous transplant, containing the dopaminergic neurons, showed great improvement in their now Parkinson-impaired motor function.

The study is very promising, as one of the main goals in Parkinson's research is finding a way for developing or regenerating dopaminergic neurons. The monkeys exhibited no adverse effects to the treatment and thus it is safe to assume that the treatment may be applied in humans sometime in the future

Picture of a bone marrow stem cell, like the ones the scientists used to derive dopaminergic neurons
A bone marrow stem cell

Parkinson's disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system. Symptoms include tremors, rigidity, bradykinesia, postural instability and various neuropsychiatric problems. As of today, there is no real treatment for the condition, although it can be manageable if diagnosed early on. In the future stem cells may be a viable option or part of a real cure for the condition. It is estimated that about one million people in the U.S. are currently affected by the disease.

Video on Parkinson's

Hayashi T, Wakao S, Kitada M, Ose T, Watabe H, Kuroda Y, Mitsunaga K, Matsuse D, Shigemoto T, Ito A, Ikeda H, Fukuyama H, Onoe H, Tabata Y, & Dezawa M (2013). Autologous mesenchymal stem cell-derived dopaminergic neurons function in parkinsonian macaques. The Journal of clinical investigation, 123 (1), 272-84 PMID: 23202734

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