Parkinson’s Treatment With Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Neurons Shows Promise

Editor's Choice Academic Journal Main Category: Parkinson's Disease Also Included In: Stem Cell Research Article Date: 01 Jul 2013 - 0:00 PDT

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The study - "Survival and Integration of Neurons Derived from Human Embryonic Stem Cells in MPTP Lesioned Primates" - has been published in the journal Cell Transplantation.

Dr. D. Eugene Redmond, Yale University School of Medicine, said "Parkinson's disease was one of the first neurological disorders to be studied for potential replacement of lost neurons. Since the 1970s there has been significant progress with learning the required gene expression, growth factors and culture conditions for differentiating cells into apparent dopamine neurons."

However, the authors explained that there have been disappointing results when transplanting dopamine neurons into rodents or monkeys - they did not become long-lasting midbrain specific neurons. They added that "there have only been pilot reports of functional improvement".

In this study, the scientists assessed the long-term survival of apparent dopamine neurons in monkeys modeled with Parkinson's-like symptoms. They also tested the functional benefit of the new neurons.

The authors found, as in previous studies, that gene expression of TH (tyrosine hydroxylase) was "transient" after transplantation. TH is a synthetic enzyme that limits dopamine production. They realized that they needed to determine when the optimal cell stage was, as well as the ideal culture environment for optimum graft survival, and also other factors that might influence the outcomes of cell transplantation.

The authors reported that there was better cell survival when a more robust immunosuppression regime was employed, compared to those used in previous primate studies.

The researchers wrote:

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Parkinson's Treatment With Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Neurons Shows Promise

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