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Stem Cell Therapies May Soon Cure Parkinson's Disease

Date (2015-04-09)

Parkinson's disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects your movement. Nearly 10 million people across the globe have been affected by this disease. The basic treatments that the doctors use to cure this include medications and electrical implants in the brain, which causes severe adverse effects over time and fail to prevent disease progression.

But now Brazilian researchers at D'OR Institute for Research and Education (IDOR) and Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) have taken an important step toward using the implantation of stem cell-generated neurons as a treatment for Parkinson's disease in human beings.

To address this issue, for the first time researchers pre-treated undifferentiated mouse embryonic stem cells with mitomycin C, a drug already prescribed to treat cancer. The substance blocks the DNA replication and prevents the cells to multiply out of control.

While conducting the experiment, the researchers separated in these mice into three groups.

· The first one, the control group, did not receive the stem cell implant.

· The second group received the implant of stem cells which were not treated with mitomycin C.

· The third one received the mitomycin C treated cells.

After the injection of 50,000 untreated stem cells, the animals of the second group showed improvement in motor functions but all of them died between 3 and 7 weeks. These animals also developed intracerebral tumors.

On the other hand, animals receiving the treated stem cells showed improvement and survived until the end of the observation period of 12 weeks post-transplant with no tumors detected. Four of these mice were monitored for as long as 15 months with no signs of pathology.

Using an FDA approved substance for treating cancer, study lead researcher Stevens Rehen and his team were able to grow dopamine-producing neurons derived from embryonic stem cells that remained healthy and functional for as long as 15 months after implantation into mice, restoring motor function without forming tumors.

"This simple strategy of shortly exposing pluripotent stem cells to an anti-cancer drug turned the transplant safer, by eliminating the risk of tumor formation", said Rehen.



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