Parkinson’s disease reached the nerve cells involved in movement control and thus causes motor disorders. The stem cell opens a new avenue of treatment for these patients. Taken from Parkinson, cultured, then implanted in the injured areas of the brain, they allow an almost complete recovery of motor skills.
Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease as well as Alzheimer’s disease. During its development the neurons that die constantly secrete the neurotransmitter dopamine (a chemical messenger used for communication between neurons), resulting in movement disorders (tremors, stiffness and slowness of movement). Today researchers are trying to use cell therapy to replace deficient neurons. Experiments using neurons from fetal had already shown promising results. But given the ethical barriers caused by such practices, researchers have sought to use adult stem cells.
Stem cells, what is it?
Recall that stem cells constitute a reservoir of replacement cells. They exist in various tissues in an immature form and thus retain the ability to multiply rapidly. They may as well level the phenomenon of natural death of cells or even come to replace dead cells after injury. Before you can fill the role of the cells they replace, they must undergo a stage of maturation or differentiation during which they acquired the characteristics of adult cells and their functions. Next the messages they receive from their surroundings, they will turn into a cell type or another. Here in this case, in dopamine neuron.
A new avenue of treatment for Parkinson’s disease
Healthy stem cells were collected directly into the brain of a Parkinson’s patient, and then were cultured. They were able to multiply and differentiate into neurons. 20% of them were made to secrete dopamine. These cells were then injected into the brain of the patient, in different places at the injury site.
Three months after cell transplantation, the patient had improved motor skills of 37%. A year later, the rating scale of severity of Parkinson’s disease (Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale or UPDRS) showed improvement in 83%, even though the patient was not taking any medication. This treatment may offer hope full remission. But it will take several years and the application of this technique to a larger number of patients before judging its effectiveness in the longer term.
Meanwhile, the medical results achieved during these tests suggest that other neurons that dopamine cells, have been grafted together, could play an important role in the treatment of disease. This opens yet other avenues of treatment. New clinical trials should not delay to explore.