The team of researchers at Yale University School of Medicine in Connecticut, USA, found that stem cells from the lining of a woman's uterus can transform into brain cells. When such stem cells were injected into mice whose brains had damage resembling Parkinson's disease, they transformed into brain cells. The scientists made suggestion that women with Parkinson's could serve as their own stem cell donors.
Parkinson's disease is caused by the destruction of brain cells that produce dopamine, an important message-carrying chemical involved in movement. It is considered a good candidate for stem cell treatment.
The Yale team generated stem cells from nine women who did not have Parkinson's disease and transformed them in the lab into dopamine-producing nerve cells like those in the brain. They also injected them directly into the brains of mice with a Parkinson's-like condition and showed that they developed into dopamine-producing cells. The next step will be to show the cells diminished the symptoms in the mice.
Stem cells are the body's master cells. There are many types of stem cells, but so-called adult stem cells, like those found in the endometrium lining the uterus, are partly "differentiated" into specific cell types.
The uterus stem cells are easy to find, that is why banks of tissue-matched endometrial stem cells could be set up. Today endometrial tissue is the most readily available and easily attainable source of stem cells. The researches hope the cells they derived were the first of many types that would be used to treat a variety of diseases.
The findings were published in the Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine.