WASHINGTON, Aug. 16 (Xinhua) -- Researchers at the Buck Institute for Age Research in California have successfully used human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) to treat rodents afflicted with Parkinson's Disease (PD), according to a research published Monday in on-line edition of the journal Stem Cells.
The research can be used to manufacture the type of neurons needed to treat the disease and paves the way for the use of iPSC' s in various biomedical applications.
Researchers used human iPSCs that were derived from skin and blood cells and coaxed them to become dopamine-producing neurons. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter produced in the mid-brain which facilitates many critical functions, including motor skills. Patients with PD lack sufficient dopamine; the disease is a progressive, incurable neurodegenerative disorder that affects 1.5 million Americans and results in tremor, slowness of movement and rigidity.
They transplanted the iPSC-derived neurons into rats that had mid-brain injury similar to that found in human PD. The cells became functional and the rats showed improvement in their motor skills. Leader author of the study Jianmin Zeng said this is the first time iPSC-derived cells have been shown to engraft and ameliorate behavioral deficits in animals with PD.
Dopamine-producing neurons derived from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) have been demonstrated to survive and correct behavioral deficits in PD in the past. "Both our functional studies and genomic analyses suggest that overall iPSCs are largely similar to hESCs," said Zeng.
"The studies are very encouraging for potential cell therapies for Parkinson's disease," said Alan Trounson, president of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. "The researchers showed they could produce quantities of dopaminergic neurons necessary to improve the behavior of a rodent model of PD. We look forward to further work that could bring closer a new treatment for such a debilitating disease," Trounson said.