Parkinson’s disease could find a potential treatment in these designer neurons

Parkinson’s disease is one of the most debated and devastating neurodegenerative diseases on earth. The disease is already blighting the lives of 10 million people around the world. But now we have new research that suggests a possible treatment. The process involves non-neuronal cells and their transformation. Once they turn into neurons, they can stay in the brain and perform regular functions like connecting to other nerve cells that make up neural tissue, forming synapses, and releasing dopamine. These cells would help repair the damage done to the dopaminergic cells by the disease.

Parkinson’s disease targets a region in the midbrain and affects the deterioration of neurons in that region. As a result, there is less dopamine left for the brain to feed on. Dopamine, a neurotransmitter, affects the functioning and life of neurons.

The degeneration and gradual loss of dopaminergic neurons causes many mental and physical symptoms. These include stiffness, tremors and postural instability, which are hallmark symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. It can also show signs of depression, anxiety, memory loss, hallucinations, and dementia.

The research was conducted by Jeffrey Kordower, founding director of the ASU-Banner Neurodegenerative Disease Research Center at Arizona State University. The study was published in the current issue of the journal Nature Regenerative Medicine.

According to a press release from Arizona State University, experimentally engineered cells have been transplanted into the brains of rats. These “designer” cells exhibited optimal performance for survival, growth, neural connectivity, and production of dopamine.

The futuristic approach will soon be tested in the first clinical trial of its kind to be conducted on a specific population of Parkinson’s patients. For best results, this study will be conducted at multiple locations, including the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, where Kordower would serve as the lead investigator. The goal of such neuronal transplant techniques is to reverse motor symptoms caused by Parkinson’s disease.

Kordower said in a statement that they are overjoyed to be able to help people who have this genetic form of Parkinson’s disease, but the lessons learned from this study will also have a direct impact on patients who have sporadic, or non-genetic, forms illness. Parkinson’s disease could find a potential treatment in these designer neurons

Ryan Sederquist

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