Scientists Use Stem Skin Cells To Repair Brain Cells Damaged By Parkinson’s

Posted Jul 18, 2012

Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that is not curable.  The cause of the cell death in the region of the midbrain is unknown.  In the early stages of the disease, some of the most obvious systems are related to movement including shaking and difficulty with moving.  In advanced stages of the disease, dementia commonly occurs.  Fortunately a team of scientists at John Hopkins University has been able to grow the brain cells that are destroyed by Parkinson’s using skin stem cells and they believe it will help develop new treatments.

The lab-grown brain cells that John Hopkins have been testing are being used to test the effectiveness of drugs that are currently in development for treating Parkinson’s.  Their experiments have been published in Science Translational Medicine.

Ted M. Dawson, a faculty member at John Hopkins’ Neurology and Neuroscience Department said “Our study suggests that some failed drugs should actually work if they were used earlier, and especially if we could diagnose Parkinson’s before tremors and other symptoms first appear.”

In the past, scientists have been able to stop the disease in mice, but none of the compounds had been able to effective treat humans.  The next step for the John Hopkins team is to learn how to slow the damage in the lab-grown stem cells.

[Science Translational Medicine]