Poway man in groundbreaking stem cell Parkinsion’s study

By Emily Sorensen

A Poway man is part of a groundbreaking study that could lead to new advances in the treatment of Parkinsons disease.

Michael Radunsky, a Poway resident, is one of eight Parkinsons patients participating in a special study at Scripps Clinic Movement Disorders Center, where cutting-edge stem cell research may lead to a viable long-term treatment for those afflicted with Parkinsons disease.

Michael Radunsky

I am proud to be a participant in this seminal research project, said Radunsky, who has been involved with the study for about a year and a half. The study involves harvesting the skin cells, or fibroblasts, from a Parkinsons patient, reprogramming these cells into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC), further reprogramming the iPSC into dopamine-producing neurons, and finally, implanting these neurons into the patients substantia nigra, a small element deep in the brain which contains neurons that normally produce dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is used to regulate motor activity. In Parkinsons patients, these neurons begin to die and do not produce enough dopamine, according to Radunsky.

The goal of the study is to have the newly implanted neurons replace the dying ones to regulate the motor functions of Parkinsons patients. Radunsky said that so far, his cells are on step two of the progress, waiting to be further reprogrammed into neurons.

A key factor in this study is that the stem cells are derived from a patients own skin cells and not from embryos or other willing or unwilling donors. The ethical issue of embryonic stem cell research and treatments is entirely eliminated by obtaining the stem cells directly from the patient without harm or the termination of a pregnancy, said Radunsky.

Radunsky, who lives in Poway with his wife, Stephanie, and their two young children, was diagnosed with Parkinsons about two years ago, in August of 2011. He works in the photonics industry for a company that builds lasers used for ultra-cold atom physics.

It was his neurologist, Dr. Melissa Houser, who got him involved in the study. Houser is the leading clinical physician in the study, and recommended that he be involved.

Radunsky said that in six to eight months, implantation surgeries will begin, and will be followed by careful observation to see the effects of implanting the new neurons. I will make myself available to the project for as long as is necessary, said Radunsky. This will undoubtedly mean years of follow up.

Continued here:
Poway man in groundbreaking stem cell Parkinsion’s study

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