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parkinsons treatment


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.


According to a Canadian study, brain cells in Parkinson’s disease exhaust themselves and die prematurely, burning out like an “overheating motor”.

Researchers say the findings, published in Current Biology, might help explain why only small parts of the brain are affected in the disease.

Parkinson’s is caused by a loss of nerve cells in certain areas of the brain – but why these cells are vulnerable has been a mystery.

Scientists from the University of Montreal studied the disease in mice cells.Brain cells Parkinsons disease

They found, unlike other similar brain cells, neurons most often involved in Parkinson’s disease were complex and had many more branches.

The cells also had much higher energy requirements, producing more waste products as they met this need.

Researchers suggest it is the accumulation of these waste products that triggers cell death.

Prof, Louis-Eric Trudeau said: “Like a motor constantly running at high speed, these neurons need to produce an incredible amount of energy to function.

“They appear to exhaust themselves and die prematurely.”

Researchers hope this finding may help create better experimental models of Parkinson’s and identify new treatments.

They suggest, for example, that medication could one day be developed to help reduce the energy requirement of cells or increase their energy efficiency.