A BBC video article alerted me to a new “breakthrough” in attempts to grow nerve cells from stem cells (derived, in this case, from skin samples). Researchers at Oxford University took skin samples from people with Parkinson’s disease and used stem cell technology to create “nerve cells that are just like those of the people with Parkinson’s” in the lab.
This is a breakthrough in that it allows the Parkinsonian nerve cells to be studied in an attempt to discover what makes the dopamine neurons die off in Parkinson’s Disease.
‘We can’t take bits of people’s brains when they are alive, of course,’ says Dr Richard Wade-Martins of the Oxford Parkinson’s Disease Centre, who led the work. ‘So we never have been able to study dopamine neurons from a patient.’
News article from Oxford University
This is the first stage in a long-term study funded by Parkinson’s UK intended to investigate “all the biological processes that go wrong in Parkinson’s, giving greater insight into the causes of the disease.”
It is not the much vaunted stem cell therapy, but it is, potentially, a step towards some type of therapy – to be determined by the results of the ongoing study.