A report in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Thursday said reprogrammed body cells are showing increased promise as a treatment for Parkinson’s disease.
Neurons derived from induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS, alleviate Parkinson-like movements in rats, said researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.
The scientists generated iPS cells from mouse tail cells by adding four genes and then differentiated the cells into neural progenitor cells using the same techniques that guide the differentiation of embryonic stem cells.
The cells were injected into baby mice’s brains and they developed into several types of brain cells, forming connections in six regions.
In order to see if the iPS cells could be grown into dopamine-producing neurons to treat the disease, they gave adult rats Parkinson’s-like movement disorder and within eight weeks, four of the five rats showed significant recovery.
A number of issues still need to be resolved before the approach can be tried in humans; however, if the problems can be fixed, iPS cells may forever change the way Parkinson’s disease is treated, medical experts said.