They convert skin cells into neurons to treat Parkinson's

Two different teams of researchers work independently to find a way to convert skin cells into specialized neurons that produce dopamine, a neurotransmitter, indispensable for the mobility of the body, scarce in the brains of patients with Parkinson .


In Italy

The Dr. Vania Broccoli of the San Raffaele Scientific Institute in Milan together with his team of researchers reprogram mouse skin cells, using 3 transcription factors, linked to the development of neurons , which have been used to transform embryonic cells, adults and patients with Parkinson .

Dr. Broccoli's project consists of infect him as cells with a virus which contains the genes that produce the transcription factors to generate a specialized neuron Produced by dopamine

Although these viruses are not those that can affect DNA and cause cancer, like any virus they do bring with them a risk; so they are also evaluating other methods of re programming in skin cells without the need to use them.

If the neurons created from the cells of mice help rats and other mice suffering from Parkinson's disease, then they would go on to models of monkeys and later to humans.


What are transcription factors?

Are proteins that coordinate and regulate the expression of several genes at a certain moment.

In the case of this study, the transcription factors are used for the skin cell to develop as a neuron specialized in the production of dopamine .


In Sweden

A team of researchers in the University of Lund, led by the Dr. Malin Parmar , convert skin cells obtained from embryos into neurons

The difference with the Italians is that, first, the skin cells are transformed into neurons (not specialized); once you have these brain cells using 5 transcription factors, including two of the Italians, they specialize them to produce dopamine

Dr. Palmer says her cells are about to move to the next phase, where it will be studied if these can benefit animals with the disease-type.

These studies increase the possibility of improving mobility in people suffering from this disease by means of a restoration in the normal production of dopamine

Currently the treatment most used is the making of L-dopa which readjusts neurotransmitter levels, but with several side effects . From these works people with Parkinson may someday be treated with brain cells made from their own skin .

Video Medicine: Parkinson's: Ask the Stem Cell Expert | Xianmin Zeng, Buck Institute (March 2024).