March 1, 2024

Reprogrammed cells help mice with Parkinson’s

Tumour fears allayed

Researchers at MIT have found that "reprogrammed" stem cells can repair the neurons of mice with a model of Parkinson’s disease. In a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Rudolph Jaenisch, a prominent stem cell scientist, found that the technique developed by Japanese researcher Shinya Yamanaka can be used to turn skin cells into functioning neurons. The cells transplant well and repair brain defects. Despite their cancer-causing potential, the researchers found that when the reprogrammed cells were purified carefully, none of the rats developed tumours.

Until now, scientists have been investigating stem cells derived from therapeutic cloning or from aborted foetus as a cure for Parkinson’s disease. However, the journal Technology Review says that the reprogrammed cells (or induced pluripotent stem cells) "offer a way to avoid the use of embryos as well as the technical challenges of nuclear transfer. And if the cells came from a patient’s own skin, there would be no potential complications from immune rejection of foreign tissue.". ~ Technology Review, Apr 8