Thursday February 22, 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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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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Coffee can predict Parkinson’s disease

The team involved 108 people who had Parkinson's disease for an average of about six years and 31 people of the same age who did not have the disease and consumed about two cups of coffee per day

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Parkinson’s disease is named after Dr James Parkinson (1755-1824), the doctor that first identified the condition. Wikimedia commons
Parkinson’s disease is named after Dr James Parkinson (1755-1824), the doctor that first identified the condition. Wikimedia commons

A neurodegenerative disorder which leads to progressive deterioration of motor function due to loss of dopamine-producing brain cells. Yes, that’s Parkinson’s disease. Quite horrifying, isn’t it?

However, there maybe a chance of predicting it.

The way your body metabolises your cup of coffee each morning may determine your chances of developing Parkinson’s disease.

The reason that Parkinson’s disease develops is not known. Wikimedia commons
The reason that Parkinson’s disease develops is not known. Wikimedia commons

Findings

  • People with Parkinson’s disease had significantly lower levels of caffeine in their blood than people without the disease, even if they consumed the same amount of caffeine.
  • Thus, testing the level of caffeine in the blood may provide a simple way to aid the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, the researchers said.

“Previous studies have shown a link between caffeine and a lower risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, but we haven’t known much about how caffeine metabolises within the people with the disease,” said Shinji Saiki, MD at the Juntendo University School of Medicine in Tokyo.

“If these results can be confirmed, they would point to an easy test for early diagnosis of Parkinson’s, possibly even before symptoms are appearing,” added David G. Munoz, MD, at the University of Toronto.

“This is important because Parkinson’s disease is difficult to diagnose, especially at the early stages,” Munoz noted.

The main symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are tremor, slowness of movement (bradykinesia) and muscle stiffness or rigidity. Wikimedia commons
The main symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are tremor, slowness of movement (bradykinesia) and muscle stiffness or rigidity. Wikimedia commons

Methodology

  • The team involved 108 people who had Parkinson’s disease for an average of about six years and 31 people of the same age who did not have the disease and consumed about two cups of coffee per day.
  • Their blood was tested for caffeine and for 11 byproducts the body makes as it metabolises caffeine. They were also tested for mutations in genes that can affect caffeine metabolism.
  • The caffeine level was an average of 79 picomoles per 10 microliters for people without Parkinson’s disease, compared to 24 picomoles per 10 microliters for people with the disease.
  • However, there were no differences found in the caffeine-related genes between the two groups.

The study was published in journal Neurology. (IANS)