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India can soon become the first country to be free of Parkinson's disease, and it will all be because of this team of IIT Bombay researchers

Date (2016-11-24)

Last month, researchers from IIT Bombay had taken the first successful step at regenerating neurons in a Parkinson mouse model by using mesenchymal stem cells encapsulated in an amyloid hydrogel. 

First it's important to know why Parkinson's disease is caused - It is due to progressive degeneration of dopaminergic neuron in a specific region of brain has no permanent cure and the present treatment only provides a symptomatic relief, it does not reverse the disease progression and patients often stop responding to drug treatment after multiple shots are applied. 

For days, work was on in IIT-Bombay to come out with a stem-cell therapy that could cure Parkinson's. 

Almost a month later, it seems we are on the edge of a significant breakthrough in the research. 

A team of three from IIT-B's department of Biosciences and Bioengineering and IITB-Monash Research Academy claim they have successfully transplanted these stem cells in the brain of Parkinson's disease animal models with unique amyloid hydrogels and that these hydrogels are now able to guide stem cell to differentiate to neurons. 

Last month, the team was clear that hydrogels they designed were able to improve the viability of the transplanted cells and contain them at the site where they were implanted. The control cells that were not contained in hydrogel were also found to be three times less viable than the cells contained in the hydrogel. 

As per the results published then in journal NPG Asia Materials then, the team had solved the first two challenges faced when stem cells are transplanted or injected into the brain - the cells should survive, and they should not migrate to different places where they are not required. 

Samir K Maji, one of the lead researchers and also the co-author of the journal NPG Asia Materials, had said - “Amyloids are among the most robust protein/peptide-based materials ever evolved in nature. We just utilised these superior materials property of amyloids for targeting stem cell delivery in the brain and their differentiation to neurons. On the one hand, amyloid-based hydrogels are capable of protecting delicate stem cells within the hydrogels matrix, while on the other hand, they are able to guide the differentiation of stem cells towards neurons." 

But they were still unable to find an answer to the third challenge - The cells should have become functional neurons and integrated with the existing neural circuit. 

However, this time they emerged successful.. 

Professor Maji now came out to say - "Stem cells could be suitably implanted and differentiated into the specific class of functional neurons to replenish the degenerated ones inside the brain. The newly developed neurons will not only stop disease progression but also cure the patient. However, in practice the implanted stem cells must survive in the diseased brain condition and develop or differentiate to neurons at the transplanted site. This can completely cure Parkinson's disease." 

With this, Indian researchers are on their way to setting a new benchmark. It may soon become the first country in the world to have a permanent solution to cure the incurable Parkinson's disease.

Source : businessinsider