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Parkinson’s Disease Could Be Reversed with Brain Cell Therapy


Researchers believe they have found a way to treat and perhaps reverse Parkinson’s disease, by making replacement cells to mend the damaged brain.

They say human brain cells can be coaxed to take over the job of the ones that are destroyed in Parkinson’s.

Tests in mice with Parkinson-like symptoms showed that the therapy appeared to ease the condition.

However, many more studies are needed before similar tests can begin in people.

Scientists say the research published in Nature Biotechnology is hugely promising, although at a very early stage.

They still have to check if the treatment is safe, and whether the converted cells, which started out in life as astrocytes, can truly function like the dopamine-producing neurons lost in Parkinson’s.

Parkinson's disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder and the most common movement disorder

People with Parkinson’s lack enough dopamine because some of the brain cells that make it have died.

It is not known what kills the cells, but this loss causes debilitating symptoms, such as tremor and difficulty in walking and moving.

Doctors can prescribe drugs to help manage the symptoms, but cannot treat the cause.

Researchers have been looking for ways to replace the damaged dopamine neurons by injecting new ones into the brain.

However, the international team who carried out the latest work used a different approach that does not require a cell transplant.

They used a cocktail of small molecules to reprogram cells already present in the brain.

When they mixed a sample of human astrocytes with the cocktail in their laboratory, they produced cells that closely resembled dopamine neurons, although not a perfect match.

Next, they gave the same cocktail to sick mice.

The treatment appeared to work, reprogramming their brain cells and lessening their Parkinson’s symptoms.