Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Genotyping & Gene Expression
Scientific Community
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Stem Cell Research Aims to Tackle Parkinson's Disease

Published: Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Last Updated: Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Bookmark and Share
New ways to grow brain cells in the laboratory could eventually provide a way to treat Parkinson's disease, scientists say.

Scientists in Sweden are developing new ways to grow brain cells in the laboratory that could one day be used to treat patients with Parkinson’s disease, an international conference of biologists organized by the European Science Foundation (ESF) was told last week.

Professor Ernest Arenas of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm presented his research to the EuroSTELLS “Stem Cell Niches” conference in Barcelona on January 11.

Stem cell therapy hold the promise of treating disease by growing new tissues and organs from stem cells – ‘blank’ cells that have the potential to develop into fully mature or ‘differentiated’ cells.

The EuroSTELLS is an ESF EURCORES programme, managed by the European Medical Research Councils (EMRC), that aims to develop a stem cell ‘toolbox’ by generating fundamental knowledge on stem cell biology.

Among the various approaches that are currently being discussed from an ethical perspective, is the possible approach of taking stem cells, growing them into new brain cells and transplanting these into the patient.

“The idea is to start with stem cells and induce them to become neurons,” said Professor Arenas, whose research is carried out as part of a EuroSTELLS collaboration. “These could then be transplanted into the brain of the patient. Also, such cells could be ideal for developing and testing new drugs to treat brain disease.”

However, to create such cells that function efficiently and safely is a major challenge. Early efforts at growing DA neurons from embryonic stem cells produced cells which, when transplanted into animal models, had a tendency to form tumours or clumps, or die without an obvious reason.

Professor Arenas’s team studied the development of DA neurons in animals to determine the important biological molecules in the brain that were necessary for the cells to grow and function efficiently.

The scientists identified one particular molecule that seemed to be key, a protein called Wnt5a. They showed that when this molecule, together with a second protein called noggin, was included in cultures of stem cells, far more DA neurons were produced than when these ingredients were not present.

The team then carried out a series of molecular, chemical and electrophysiological tests on the newly grown neurons to check their proficiency, which was shown to be good.

Crucially the team also moved away from embryonic stem cells – which can be induced to grow into a wide variety of different cells. Instead they used neural stem cells – which are programmed to develop only into nerve cells.

When the researchers transplanted the cells into laboratory animals whose substantia nigra region of the brain was damaged, the results were promising.

“We reversed almost completely the behavioral abnormalities, and neurons differentiated, survived and re-innervated the relevant part of the brain better” Professor Arenas said.

“Furthermore we do not see the kind of proliferation of the cells that has occurred in the past and we get very little clustering when the cells are treated with Wnt5a. The cells are safer than embryonic stem cells and more efficient than fetal tissue.”

Verification of this approach with human cells is ongoing and if the study is successful, it may lead to a clinical trial. Experts in the field have recently identified this approach as the next step in cell replacement therapy for Parkinson’s disease and the hope is that this may, ultimately, lead to cells suitable for transplant into human patients.

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,600+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 3,800+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

New Mechanism Discovered Behind Infant Epilepsy
Scientists at Karolinska Institutet and Karolinska University Hospital have discovered a new explanation for severe early infant epilepsy.
Monday, September 07, 2015
Learning the Alphabet of Controlling Gene Expression
Scientists at Karolinska Institutet have made a large step towards the understanding of how human genes are regulated.
Monday, January 21, 2013
Scientific News
Lung Repair and Regeneration Gene Discovered
New role for hedgehog gene offers better understanding of lung disease.
Mixed Up Cell Transportation Key Piece of ALS and Dementia Puzzle
Researchers from the University of Toronto are one step closer to solving this incredibly complex puzzle, offering hope for treatment.
Five New Genetic Variants Linked to Brain Cancer Identified
The biggest ever study of DNA from people with glioma – the most common form of brain cancer – has discovered five new genetic variants associated with the disease.
Predictive Model for Breast Cancer Progression
Biomedical engineers have demonstrated a proof-of-principle technique that could give women and their oncologists more personalized information to help them choose options for treating breast cancer.
New Hope for Personalized Treatment of Eczema
Pharmaceutical researchers at Oregon State University have developed a new approach to treat eczema and other inflammatory skin disorders that would use individual tests and advanced science to create personalized treatments based on each person's lipid deficiencies.
Gene Expression: A Snapshot of Stem Cell Development
New genes found that regulate development of stem cells.
Are Changes to Current Colorectal Cancer Screening Guidelines Required?
Editorial suggests more research is needed to pinpoint age to end aggressive screening.
Assessing Cancer Patient Survival and Drug Sensitivity
RNA editing events another way to investigate biomarkers and therapy targets.
New Molecular Marker for Killer Cells
Cell marker enables prognosis about the course of infections.
Genes That Protect African Children From Developing Malaria Identified
Variations in DNA at a specific location on the genome that protect African children from developing severe malaria, in some cases nearly halving a child’s chance of developing the life-threatening disease, have been identified in the largest genetic association study of malaria to date.
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,600+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,800+ scientific videos