Human stem cells successfully used to treat Parkinson's in rodents

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Washington, Aug 17 (ANI): Using human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), researchers at the Buck Institute for Age Research have successfully treated rodents afflicted with Parkinson's Disease (PD).

The research, which validates a scalable protocol that the same group had previously developed, can be used to manufacture the type of neurons needed to treat the disease and paves the way for the use of iPSC's in various biomedical applications.

Human iPSC's are a "hot" topic among scientists focused on regenerative medicine.

"These cells are reprogrammed from existing cells and represent a promising unlimited source for generating patient-specific cells for biomedical research and personalized medicine," said Dr. Xianmin Zeng Zeng, lead author of the study.

"Human iPSCs may provide an end-run around immuno-rejection issues surrounding the use of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) to treat disease. They may also solve bioethical issues surrounding hESCs," he added.

Researchers used human iPSCs that were derived from skin and blood cells and coaxed them to become dopamine-producing neurons.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter produced in the mid-brain, which facilitates many critical functions, including motor skills. Patients with PD lack sufficient dopamine.

Researchers transplanted the iPSC-derived neurons into rats that had mid-brain injury similar to that found in human PD.

The cells became functional and the rats showed improvement in their motor skills.

Zeng said this is the first time iPSC-derived cells have been shown to engraft and ameliorate behavioural deficits in animals with PD.

Dopamine-producing neurons derived from hESCs have been demonstrated to survive and correct behavioural deficits in PD in the past.

"Both our functional studies and genomic analyses suggest that overall iPSCs are largely similar to hESCs," said Zeng.

The study has been published in the on-line edition of the journal Stem Cells. (ANI)

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