Stem cells are arguably one of the most researched things in the field of medicine. It is believed that these miracle cells may produce cures that are not yet present in this day and age. However, it is continually being studied for its effects and efficacy based on various treatments of different medical conditions.
One of the common human conditions that affect old people is Parkinson’s Disease and it characterized by a stark decline in one’s cognitive abilities.
Parkinson’s disease is a condition that starts when dopamine, a neurotransmitter, starts to decline in the patient’s brain. Since the 90s, scientists have been developing cell-replacement treatments to help counteract this natural depletion in old people. Recent efforts have made its way to the use of stem cells and they have used rodents as their primate of choice when it comes to research pertaining to the use of these cells.
A study conducted by Bao-Yang Hu, a stem cell biologist at the Institute of Zoology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, used dopamine neurons that were derived from parthenogenetic ESCs. They were obtained from an unfertilized Oocyte.
According to Hu, Parthenogenetic ESCs are used because their utilization is less controversial than embryonic stem cells and may naturally bypass any immunological issues that may arise as a result of transplantation.
The research done by Hu and his colleagues made use of Macaques. They were given some neurotoxins that helped induce Parkinson’s-like conditions in the said test subjects. Hu, then, grafted the parthenogenetic ESCs and reprogrammed them into dopamine-producing neurons. The neurons were injected into the striatum of the affected monkeys and after the surgery, the monkeys have exhibited spontaneous recovery, with their motor skills vastly improved.
Even though the monkeys were able to exhibit superior motor skills after the surgery, not all of them experienced lasting effects. Some of the monkeys reverted back to their pre-graft conditions while others have enjoyed the new life.
Hu and his team further conducted studies to understand this phenomenon. They used MRI images from dopamine levels before and after the surgery and it was found that dopamine levels did increase in all monkeys, but those that enjoyed lasting effects had the said neurotransmitter placed in a specific region in the brain.
Further Study May Be Required
Hu’s study reveals a promising proposition that Parthenogenetic ESCs may be used to help treat people with Parkinson’s Disease.
However, the studies were conducted in Monkeys and would need human trials before it can be deemed as a viable treatment for the common mental condition.
Still, this provides an avenue for the disease suffers to find hope that they can be cured of the condition with the use of specialized stem cells.
There are only some human trials in China, but the study is still ongoing and that the results haven’t been finalized yet.
Who knows, maybe we will wake up one day that we can finally not be afraid of Parkinson’s as there is a cure for it already.