Parkinson’s disease “is caused by the loss of dopamine-producing cells in the brain that help regulate things like movement and emotions,” an article in today’s Washington Post explains.
The story reports: “The scientists at the Lund University [in Sweden] found that when they turned human embryonic stem cells into neurons that produce dopamine and injected them into the brains of rats, something remarkable happened. The damage from the disease seemed to reverse.”
The article adds: “The scientists wrote that while they believe their research was “rigorous,” they pointed out that ‘a number of crucial issues’ still need to be addressed before the treatment can be tested in humans. For instance, they need to make sure the cells continue to work the way are supposed to over longer time periods.”
If all goes well, human clinical trials using this method could begin in a few years, the story notes.
The version of this news on the Medical News Today website says: “Study leader Malin Parmar, associate professor in Lund’s Department of Medicine, and colleagues report their findings in the journal Cell Stem Cell.
” ‘The study shows that the cells that we generate from stem cells, they function equally well as the cells that we find in the brain,’ says Prof. Parmar.
“The team says the new cells show all the properties and functions of the dopamine neurons that are lost in Parkinson’s disease, and the potentially unlimited supply sourced from stem cell lines opens the door to clinical application.”
The Washington Post story also notes that “Parkinson’s affects an estimated 7 to 10 million people worldwide. Actor Michael J. Fox has Parkinson’s and Google co-founder Sergey Brin has a gene that makes him susceptible to the disease.”
In the following very short video, posted on YouTube, the Swedish scientists explain their findings: