Parkinson’s disease (PD) is caused by the progressive degeneration of brain cells known as dopamine cells. Replacing these cells is considered a promising therapeutic strategy. Sources for these cells are needed. Ernest Arenas (pictured) and colleagues at the Karolinska Institue, Sweden, have identified a new source for dopamine cells that provided marked benefit when transplanted into mice with a Parkinson-like disease.
In the study, dopamine cells were derived from ventral midbrain neural stem cells/progenitors. This protocol generated 10-fold more dopamine cells than did conventional treatment. Further analysis revealed that these cells initiated substantial cellular and functional recovery when transplanted into mice with Parkinson-like disease.
Importantly, the mice did not develop tumors, a potential risk that has precluded the clinical development of embryonic stem cells as a source of dopamine cells. These data led the authors to suggest that these new neural stem cells might be an efficient and safe source of dopamine cells for the treatment of individuals with Parkinson’s disease.
Illustration: Karolinska Institue, Sweden.
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Abstract (The Journal of Clinical Investigation, Published online 2007 December 3.)