Sunday April 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.

indianexpress.com
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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This New App Can Score Parkinson’s Severity

The app is available both for Android as well as iOS smartphones

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

Computer scientists, including one of Indian-origin, has developed a new smartphone-based app that uses sensors to generate a score that reliably reflects symptom severity in patients with Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson’s is a progressive brain disorder and is often tough to treat effectively because symptoms, such as tremors and walking difficulties, can vary dramatically over a period of days, or even hours.

The new app called “HopkinsPD”, developed by researchers from the Johns Hopkins University, helped Parkinson’s patients to objectively monitor symptoms in the home and then share data to doctors.

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 smartphone-derived severity score for Parkinson’s disease is feasible and provides an objective measure of motor symptoms inside and outside the clinic that could be valuable for clinical care and therapeutic development,” said the research team including Srihari Mohan, undergraduate student at the varsity.

Typically, patients with Parkinson’s disease are evaluated by medical specialists during three or four clinic visits annually, and patients are asked to fill out a cumbersome 24-hour “motor diary” at home to record their mobility, involuntary twisting movements, etc. The doctor then uses this self-reported or imprecise data to guide treatment.

In the new study, published in the journal JAMA Neurology, the team collected the data with the help of “HopkinsPD” app and then using a machine learning technique, they converted it into an objective Parkinson’s disease severity score — that better reflected the overall severity of patients’ symptoms and how well they were responding to medication.

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The app will be available on all platforms.

This smartphone evaluation does not rely on the subjective observations of a medical staff, and can be administered any time or day in a clinic or within the patient’s home.

The app is available both for Android as well as iOS smartphones. IANS