Sci­en­tists in Ja­pan de­vise break­through ther­apy for Parkin­son’s

BioSpectrum (Asia) - - Science News -

Sci­en­tists at Ky­oto Univer­sity have suc­cess­fully used re­pro­grammed stem cells to re­store func­tion­ing brain cells in mon­keys, rais­ing hopes the tech­nique could be used in fu­ture to help pa­tients with Parkin­son’s dis­ease. Since Parkin­son’s is caused by the loss of cells that pro­duce dopamine, re­searchers have long hoped to use stem cells to re­store nor­mal pro­duc­tion of the neu­ro­trans­mit­ter. Now, for the first time, Ja­panese re­searchers have shown that hu­man in­duced pluripo­tent stem cells (iPS) can be ad­min­is­tered safely and ef­fec­tively to treat pri­mates with symp­toms of the de­bil­i­tat­ing dis­ease. So-called iPS cells are made by re­mov­ing ma­ture cells from an in­di­vid­ual, of­ten from the skin, and re­pro­gram­ming them to be­have like em­bry­onic stem cells. They can then be coaxed into dopamine-pro­duc­ing brain cells. In ad­di­tion to boost­ing dopamine pro­duc­tion, the tests showed im­proved move­ment in af­fected mon­keys and no tu­mors in their brains for at least two years. The next step will be to test the treat­ment in a first-in-hu­man clin­i­cal trial, which is hoped to start by the end of 2018.

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