First test using IPS cells
The UK’s first major
study of a disease using stem cells that do not require the creation and
destruction of embryos is being launched.
An Oxford University
research team will use induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells to examine
Parkinson’s disease. iPS cells, first developed in 2007, are adult stem
cells which are able to become any kind of cell in the human body.
These cells will then
be used to grow the brain neurons that are killed by the disorder. When
iPS cells were developed, scientists said they had potential to offer
many of the benefits of embryonic stem cells without any of the ethical
The team at Oxford
University is one of the first in the world to use IPS cells to
implement a large-scale clinical investigation of a major disease. The
iPS cells may enable researchers to produce limitless quantities of
nerve cells for experimentation and for testing new drugs.
Skin cells will be
taken from 1,000 patients with early stage Parkinson’s and turned into
nerve cells carrying the disease.
“Parkinson’s disease is the second most
common neurodegenerative disease in the UK and is set to become
increasingly common as we live longer,” said Dr Richard Wade-Martins,
head of the Oxford Parkinson’s Disease Centre. “Once we have neurons
from patients we can compare the functioning of cells taken from
patients with the disease and those without to better understand why
dopamine neurons die in patients with Parkinson’s.” ~ BBC News, Jul 13
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