Parkinson’s disease (related to the human brain cells) is one of the world’s most common long term degenerative ailments of the central nervous system that mainly affects the motor system. This causes the patients to lose dopamine neurons that are responsible for the motor control center of the brain. According to the stats from the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, there are more than 10 million people who suffer from it worldwide with more than 60,000 cases diagnosed in the US alone.
To replace the lost dopamine neurons, few of the researchers from the Stockholm’s Karolinska Institute started investigating on stem cell therapy and later developed a treatment that is based on stem cells. But the adult stem cells and the embryonic cells were quite difficult to harness and transplant into the brain. Instead, the researchers found a way of reprogramming the individual’s brain’s (Brain Cells) astrocytes- cells that hardly support and nurture neurons- into producing a new generation of dopamine neurons.
The senior author Ernest Arenas, a professor of medical biochemistry at Karolinska; explained to the Scientific American that “You can directly reprogram a cell that is already inside the brain and change the function in such a way that you can improve neurological symptoms.”
There’s still a long way to go before an actual cure can be developed where motor improvement is just half the battle. Moreover, fighting half the battle is still notable. Furthermore, research is needed to make sure that the reprogramming of cells doesn’t affect others brain cells of the human brain. Once justified; it will be available for clinical trials on the human. The VP and chief scientific officer for Parkinson’s Disease Foundation; James Beck is still hopeful that this approach will motivate new Parkinson’s treatments in the near future. Beck states that “This is an insight into what the future of Parkinson’s treatment holds”.