University of Edinburgh Researchers create Stem Cells Resistant to Developing Parkinson’s


Scientists have created stem cells, which can protect themselves from developing Parkinson’s. This is a major discovery in the direction of growing class of treatments to fight Parkinson’s disease. The latest innovation will significantly add to the next generation of therapies and treatments for this condition, which is faced by nearly one in every 350 individuals in the UK.

The recent advancement could prove helpful in the development of effective treatment called cell replacement therapy. Scientists used the therapy for the first time in a clinical trial this year. According to the experts in this industry, the approach, which includes transplantation of healthy cells into different parts of the brain affected by Parkinson’s, may reduce symptoms, including tremor and can balance health issues.

The new discovery targets the loopholes of the existing treatment, wherein the transplanted healthy tissue can get the symptoms of the disease from the nearby cells.

The University of Edinburgh researchers have developed stem cells, which can easily transform into any cell type, and are  resistant to acquiring Parkinson’s.

The researchers sliced parts of DNA from the cells of humans, in a laboratory, with the help of advanced technology called CRISPR. While doing the same, they eradicated a gene associated with the development of toxic clumps, called Lewy bodies, which are characteristic of Parkinson’s brain cells.

While performing the lab tests, the researchers witnessed the transformation of stem cells into brain cells that make dopamine in a dish. Dopamine is a significant brain chemical that gets lost in Parkinson’s. The researchers then treated the cells using a chemical agent to induce Lewy bodies.

According to the researchers the gene-edited cells didn’t make the deadly clumps in comparison to the unedited cells, which showcased symptoms of Parkinson’s. The researchers mentioned that the innovation is likely to prove most beneficial for the young Parkinson’s patients, and for the ones who have reached at the worst stage of the condition. They added that the advance is yet to pass humans trials.

Published in the European Journal of Neuroscience, the research was sponsored by the UK Center for Mammalian Synthetic Biology, The Cure Parkinson’s Trust, and a medical firm USB Biopharma.

The study lead Dr Tilo Kunath from the University of Edinburgh said that they are well aware of the fact that Parkinson’s disease spreads from one neuron to another, attacking the healthy, perfectly working cells. He added that the discovery could significantly enhance the cell replacement therapy and other emerging treatments meant to battle the disease.


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