Stem Cells to Be Transplanted into Brains of Parkinson’s Patients in World-First Trials

Stem Cells to Be Transplanted into Brains of Parkinson’s Patients in World-First Trials

The deterioration of motor skills in Parkinson’s patients is driven by the decline of dopamine production, but researchers in Japan are making exciting progress on a way to potentially arrest the slide. Following promising experiments on monkeys last year, scientists at Kyoto University are now preparing to begin transplanting reprogrammed stem cells into human brains as part of a first-of-a-kind clinical trial.

Japanese scientists have been at the vanguard of stem cell research since the turn of the century. In 2006, researcher Shinya Yamanaka found that mature cells could be harvested from body tissues and infected with a virus as a way of returning them to their immature state.

Once there, these induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) can be developed into any cell in the body. This breakthrough earned Yamanaka a Nobel Prize in 2012, but really the work is just beginning in terms of what they could mean for regenerative medicine. Scientists are exploring how they could be used to restore vision, repair damaged hearts and kill brain tumors, among other possibilities.

 

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Source: New Atlas

 

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