Diabetes and Parkinson’s Disease – Stem Cells Might Make Treatment Feasible

Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is really a degenerative disorder affecting the central nerve program. An individual with Parkinson’s Disease might develop muscular rigidity, tremors, and altered speech patterns. The individual might also have issues utilizing language and shed greater cognitive functions. PD might trigger an individual to move extremely slowly (bradykinesia) and might trigger loss of balance. The illness is progressive and chronic. PD isn’t fatal, but ultimately severe muscular issues might trigger pneumonia, choking, and falls which might result in death. PD affects approximately 150 out of each and every 100,000 Caucasian people, and is slightly much less prevalent amongst African-Americans.

Parkinson’s Disease is caused by decreased activity of dopamine (DA)-secreting nerve cells situated within the substantia nigra (“black substance”) of the brain. DA is really a neurotransmitter involved within the regulation of muscular activity also as numerous neuropsychiatric functions such as cognition and behavior. A typical medical treatment for PD is L-Dopa which is converted into DA by dopaminergic neurons within the substantia nigra. Administration of L-Dopa attempts to replace the body’s supply of DA. The drug isn’t an optimal therapy – only a little percentage is converted to DA and also the drug causes numerous side-effects.

PD is an perfect candidate for stem cell treatment. Brilliant study by Wernig et al.1 (conducted within the Jaenisch laboratory at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Study) demonstrated effective treatment of PD in adult rats utilizing neurons derived from stem cells. These authors derived iPS cells by reprogramming rat connective tissue cells. The stem cells had been then transformed into neuronal cell kinds and transplanted into the brains of adult rat models of PD. The nerve cells had been successfully transplanted and led to functional recovery in eight of nine rats. Importantly, no cancers that may have been caused by the transplants had been detected up to eight weeks following transplantation.

An extra remarkable study was reported lately by Zhou et al.2 at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute. Utilizing an in vivo approach in adult mice, this team directly converted mouse pancreatic exocrine cells into pancreatic endocrine β-cells. The team utilized an adenovirus to transfect the exocrine cells having a particular mixture of transcription elements, successfully reprogramming the exocrine cells into endocrine β-cells. This stunning breakthrough demonstrates that it’s feasible in particular circumstances to steer clear of the necessity of reprogramming a cell to an embryonic pluripotent state. Zhou et al showed that transdifferentiation is feasible by utilizing a cocktail of lineage-specific transcription elements.

A lot function is required to be carried out, obviously. However the function of both these study teams points to exciting new possibilities for treatment of these devastating illnesses.

The field of regenerative medicine is progressing at an astonishing rate. Hallowed concepts of embryology and development are becoming revised, practically on-the-fly, yearly if not monthly. We’re living in extremely exciting times.

1 Wernig M, et al: Neurons derived from reprogrammed fibroblasts functionally integrate into the fetal brain and enhance symptoms of rats with Parkinson’s Disease. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 105(15):5856-5861, 2008

2 Zhou Q, et al: In vivo reprogramming of adult pancreatic exocrine cells to beta-cells. Nature 455(7213):627-632, 2008