Friday July 20, 2018

Scientists develop 3D model of cells to help Parkinson’s patients

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London: In a major step towards development of personalised drugs for Parkinson’s patients, researchers have managed to grow three dimensional models of cells that are lost with the progress of the disease.

The progressive loss of neurons in the brain of Parkinson’s patients is slow yet inexorable. So far, there are no drugs that can halt this insidious process.

“This is an important step towards personalised drug development,” said study leader Ronan Fleming from Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) of the University of Luxembourg.

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indianexpress.com

Parkinson’s disease is characterised, in particular, by death of dopamine-producing neurons in the Substantia-nigra of the midbrain.

It is already possible to grow these dopaminergic neurons in cell cultures.

“But most such cell cultures are two-dimensional, with the cells growing along the base of a petri dish, for example,” Fleming said.  He added, “Instead, we have the neurons grow in a gel that yields a far better model of their natural, three-dimensional environment.”

The scientists are confident that this system could greatly facilitate the continuing search for therapeutic agents in future as it models the natural conditions in the brain more realistically than other systems available so far.

It is also significantly cheaper to employ in the laboratory, the researchers said.

As a next step, Fleming’s team and their international collaborators want to study cells from patients and to test potential active pharmaceutical ingredients.

Promising substances will then be tested in mice, the researchers said.

The results were recently published in the journal Lab on a Chip.

(IANS)

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Study: Experimental Drug can Halt Parkinson’s Progression

The drug, named NLY01, is similar to compounds used to treat diabetes and is expected to move to clinical trials this year

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Study: Experimental Drug can Halt Parkinson's Progression
Study: Experimental Drug can Halt Parkinson's Progression. Pixabay

US researchers have developed an experimental drug that potentially slows down the progression of Parkinson’s disease as well as its symptoms.

In experiments performed with cultures of human brain cells and live mouse models, researchers from the Johns Hopkins University in Maryland reported that the drug blocked the degradation of brain cells that is the hallmark of Parkinson’s disease.

“It is amazingly protective of target nerve cells,” said Ted Dawson, Professor at the University’s School of Medicine.

The drug, named NLY01, is similar to compounds used to treat diabetes and is expected to move to clinical trials this year.

If successful in humans, it could be one of the first treatments to directly target the progression of Parkinson’s, not just the muscle rigidity, spasmodic movements, fatigue, dizziness, dementia and other symptoms of the disorder, Dawson said in the paper published in the journal Nature Medicine.

Parkinsons
Representational image. (IANS)

In a preliminary experiment in laboratory-grown human brain cells, Dawson’s team treated human microglia — a brain cell type that sends signals throughout the central nervous system in response to infection or injury — with NLY01 and found that they were able to turn the activating signals off.

Further, the researchers injected the mice with alpha-synuclein — the protein known to be the primary driver of Parkinson’s disease — and the mice treated with NLY01 maintained normal physical function and had no loss of dopamine neurons, indicating that the drug protected against the development of Parkinson’s disease.

Also Read: Fruit Bats Identified As Source Of Nipah Virus Outbreak in Kerala

In another experiment, the team used mice that were genetically engineered to naturally produce more human-type alpha-synuclein typically used to model human Parkinson’s disease that runs in families.

While under normal conditions, these so-called transgenic mice will succumb to the disease in 387 days, those treated with NLY01 extended the lives by over 120 days.

However, the experimental drug must still be tested for safety as well as effectiveness in people, Dawson cautioned. (IANS)