Saturday September 21, 2019

Research: Japan Scientists to Use ‘Reprogrammed’ Stem Cells to Fight Parkinson’s

The fact that the clinical trial uses iPS cells rather than human embryonic cells means the treatment would be acceptable in countries such as Ireland and much of Latin America, where embryonic cells are banned

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Japan scientists
Jun Takahashi, left, professor at Kyoto University's Centre for iPS Cell Research and Application, attends a news conference in Kyoto, Japan, July 30, 2018. (VOA)

Japanese scientists said Monday they will start clinical trials next month on a treatment for Parkinson’s disease, transplanting “reprogrammed” stem cells into brains, seeking a breakthrough in treating the neurodegenerative disorder.

Parkinson’s is caused by a lack of dopamine made by brain cells, and researchers have long hoped to use stem cells to restore normal production of the neurotransmitter chemical.

The clinical trials come after researchers at Japan’s Kyoto University successfully used human-induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) to restore functioning brain cells in monkeys last year.

So-called iPS cells are made by removing mature cells from an individual — often from the skin or blood — and reprogramming them to behave like embryonic stem cells. They can then be coaxed into dopamine-producing brain cells.

Parkinsons
Parkinson’s is caused by a lack of dopamine made by brain cells. (IANS)

“This will be the world’s first clinical trial using iPS cells on Parkinson’s disease,” Jun Takahashi, professor at Kyoto University’s Centre for iPS Cell Research and Application, told a news conference.

The center is headed by Shinya Yamanaka, who in 2012 shared a Nobel Prize for medicine with a British scientist, John Gurdon, for the discovery that adult cells can be transformed back into embryo-like cells.

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“We intend to carry on conducting our research carefully, yet expeditiously, in coordination with Kyoto University Hospital, so that new treatment using iPS cells will be brought to patients as soon as possible,” Yamanaka said in a statement.

The fact that the clinical trial uses iPS cells rather than human embryonic cells means the treatment would be acceptable in countries such as Ireland and much of Latin America, where embryonic cells are banned. (VOA)

Next Story

Novel Treatment Offers Promise to Stop Parkinson’s

After nine months, there was no change in the PET scans of those who received placebo. On the other hand, the group who received GDNF showed an improvement of 100 per cent in a key area of the brain affected in the condition

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10 million people living worldwide suffer from Parkinson;s disease Pixabay
10 million people living worldwide suffer from Parkinson;s disease Pixabay

An experimental treatment that delivers a drug directly to the brain has shown promise for slowing, stopping, or even reversing Parkinson’s disease, say researchers.

The study, by a team led by University of Bristol researchers, in a clinical trial investigated whether the treatment called Glial Cell Line Derived Neurotrophic Factor (GDNF) — a natural protein, found in the brain — can regenerate dying dopamine brain cells in patients with Parkinson’s and reverse their condition, something no existing treatment can do.

The results potentially demonstrated that the new treatment was starting to reawaken and restore damaged brain cells and that repeated brain infusion is clinically feasible and tolerable, according in the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease.

The study “represents some of the most compelling evidence yet that we may have a means to possibly reawaken and restore the dopamine brain cells that are gradually destroyed in Parkinson’s”, said principal investigator Alan L. Whone, from the University of Bristol in the UK.

After an initial safety study of six people, 35 individuals were enrolled in the nine-month double blind trial, in which half were randomly assigned to receive monthly infusions of GDNF and the other half placebo infusions.

Parkinson's Disease
Parkinson’s Disease Gets Awareness From Various Events. Flickr

All participants underwent robot-assisted surgery to have four tubes placed into their brains, which allowed GDNF or placebo to be infused directly to the affected areas with pinpoint accuracy, via a port in their head.

After implantation the team administered, more than 1,000 brain infusions, once every four weeks.

After nine months, there was no change in the PET scans of those who received placebo. On the other hand, the group who received GDNF showed an improvement of 100 per cent in a key area of the brain affected in the condition.

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“This trial has shown that we can safely and repeatedly infuse drugs directly into patients’ brains over months or years,” said Steven Gill, lead neurosurgeon at North Bristol NHS Trust, Bristol, UK

“This is a significant breakthrough in our ability to treat neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s, because most drugs that might work cannot cross from the blood stream into the brain due to a natural protective barrier.” (IANS)