Adult stem cell findings offer new hope for Parkinson's cure

Jun 06, 2008

Research released today provides evidence that a cure for Parkinson's disease could lie just inside the nose of patients themselves.

The Griffith University study published today in the journal Stem Cells found that adult stem cells harvested from the noses of Parkinson's patients gave rise to dopamine-producing brain cells when transplanted into the brain of a rat.

The debilitating symptoms of Parkinson's such as loss of muscle control are caused by degeneration of cells that produce the essential chemical dopamine in the brain.

Current drug therapies replace dopamine in the brain, but these often become less effective after prolonged use.

The discovery is the work of the National Centre for Adult Stem Cell Research, part of Griffith's Eskitis Institute for Cell and Molecular Therapies.

Project leader Professor Alan Mackay-Sim said researchers simulated Parkinson's symptoms in rats by creating lesions on one side of the brain similar to the damage Parkinson's causes in the human brain.

"The lesions to one side of the brain made the rats run in circles," he said.

"When stem cells from the nose of Parkinson's patients were cultured and injected into the damaged area the rats re-aquired the ability to run in a straight line.

"All animals transplanted with the human cells had a dramatic reduction in the rate of rotation within just 3 weeks," he said.

"This provided evidence the cells had differentiated to give rise to dopamine-producing neurons influenced by being in the environment of the brain. In-vitro tests also revealed the presence of dopamine."

"Significantly, none of the transplants led to formation of tumours or teratomas in the host rats as has occurred after embryonic stem cell transplantation in a similar model.

He said like all stem cells, stem cells from the olfactory nerve in the nose are 'naïve' having not yet differentiated into which sort of cells they will give rise to.

"They can still be influenced by the environment they are put into. In this case we transplanted them into the brain, where they were directed to give rise to dopamine producing brain cells."

The advantage of using a patient's own cells is that, unlike stem cells from a foreign embryo, they are not rejected by the patient's immune system, so patients are free from a lifetime of potentially dangerous immuno-suppressant drug therapy.

This development follows Professor Mackay-Sim's 2006 development of a world-first technique that demonstrated that olfactory adult stem cells can give rise to heart, nerve, liver and brain cells.

Source: Research Australia

Explore further: Researchers try to make sure herpes does not find a home

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Histones and the mystery of cell proliferation

Aug 19, 2014

Before cells divide, they create so much genetic material that it must be wound onto spools before the two new cells can split apart. These spools are actually proteins called histones, and they must multiply ...

On the frontiers of cyborg science

Aug 10, 2014

No longer just fantastical fodder for sci-fi buffs, cyborg technology is bringing us tangible progress toward real-life electronic skin, prosthetics and ultraflexible circuits. Now taking this human-machine concept to an ...

Recommended for you

Gamers helping in Ebola research

2 hours ago

Months before the recent Ebola outbreak erupted in Western Africa, killing more than a thousand people, scientists at the University of Washington's Institute for Protein Design were looking for a way to stop the deadly virus.

Carcinogenic role of a protein in liver decoded

5 hours ago

The human protein EGFR controls cell growth. It has mutated in case of many cancer cells or exists in excessive numbers. For this reason it serves as a point of attack for target-oriented therapies. A study ...

A new way to diagnose malaria, using magnetic fields

Aug 31, 2014

Over the past several decades, malaria diagnosis has changed very little. After taking a blood sample from a patient, a technician smears the blood across a glass slide, stains it with a special dye, and ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

tel4him
not rated yet Jun 09, 2008
As someone with a family history of Parkinson's, this is really exciting for me! I hope something comes of this!