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Stem Cell Studies Will Help Better Understand Parkinson’s and the Ways of Its Treatment

Scientists from the University of Edinburgh and University College London have created brain nerve cells from the skin of the patient with rapidly progressing Parkinson’s disease. The research that was published in the journal Nature Communications is expected to enable new wave of the research into Parkinson’s with the use of cells that completely resemble those affected by the disease. 

In the study funded by charity Parkinson’s UK, the researchers took skin cells from a patient suffering one of the most rapidly progressing forms of the disease. Then they used these cells to generate induced pluripotent stem cells which, in its turn, were converted to neurons – brain nerve cells – that completely preserved the traits of the patient’s cells injured by the disease. The researchers hope these cells will help dig into why nerve cells die in the course of the disease. Moreover, when used in a laboratory in a dish, the cells will make it easier to test new drugs retaining and reversing the disease.

Given that the neurons from the patient with the most progressive form of the disease were used in the research, the scientists hope to get insight into all other forms of the disease. The protein alfa-synuclein, though produced in the highest quantities in rapidly progressing types of the disease, is implicated in nearly all other forms of the disease. Therefore, the researchers hope that finding new treatments for the rapidly progressing Parkinson’s forms will benefit also the patients with other forms of the disease.