stem cells 
Author Message
 stem cells

Parkinson's Cure May Be Near

.c The Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO (Feb. 16) - Scientists may be on the brink of curing Parkinson's
disease using transplanted embryonic stem cells, but where and when that new
treatment is tested in humans depends on unresolved political decisions,
researchers suggested Friday.

Dr. Ole Isacson of Harvard Medical School and Dr. Ronald McKay of the National
Institutes of Health said Friday they have both ''cured'' Parkinson's in mice
and rats, using stem cells removed from embryos of laboratory animals.

In a report at the national meeting of the American Association for the
Advancement of Science, Isacson said mouse and rat embryonic cells, after
careful processing, can be grafted into the animal brains where they transform
into replacements for cells killed by Parkinson's.

''In mouse models (laboratory tests) these cells have restored function,'' said

Using a slightly different technique, McKay said his NIH lab has also prompted
mouse embryonic stem cells to convert into cells that are lacking in

McKay and Isacson said researchers are almost ready to test the technique in
humans, but social and political issues must be resolved in the United States
before that step can be taken in this country.

At the same time, McKay said it may happen soon in Britain, France or the
Netherlands, as those countries are adopting policies to advance embryonic stem
cell research.

''It's going to happen, but just where may depend on social and political
issues,'' McKay said. ''There is a great sense of optimism shared by many
people in the field right now.''

In the United States, some groups, including some members of Congress, oppose
the use of embryonic stem cells in research because gathering the cells
requires the death of a human embryo.

New NIH guidelines permit federal funding of such stem cell research, but only
if the cells are extracted from embryos in labs not receiving federal funding.

Tommy Thompson, the new secretary of Health and Human Services that oversees
NIH, said he is reviewing the policy on embryonic stem cells research.

Some researchers have sought NIH funds to conduct embryonic stem cell studies,
but no grants have been issued, said McKay.

More than 1 million Americans have been diagnosed with Parkinson's, a disease
caused by the death of brain cells that produce dopamine, a key nerve chemical.
When patients lose about 80 percent of these cells, they develop the classic
Parkinson's symptoms: tremors and rigidity.

Parkinson's can be treated with L-dopa, a drug that makes dopamine in the
brain. But L-dopa is effective for only a short time and after that the disease

Limited experiments using brain cells from aborted fetuses have stabilized
patients for up to 12 years, Isacson said. The transplanted cells convert to
dopamine-producing cells, replacing those lacking in patients with Parkinson's.

But using tissue from aborted fetuses in research also is opposed by many
groups. And because of limited availability and for technical reasons, fetal
tissue is not considered ideal for treating Parkinson's.

The best hope, said the researchers, are the embryonic stem cells. These are
master cells that can be coaxed to transform into virtually any type of tissue
in the body.

Embryonic stem cells can be grown in great numbers, making them readily
available for treating thousands of patients, the researchers said.

''You can generate embryonic stem cells with huge efficiencies,'' said McKay.

McKay said his lab has found ways to cause mouse embryonic stem cells to change
into the dopamine-producing cells lacking in Parkinson's.

''We can take the embryonic stem cells through a series of transitions until
they become the dopamine cells,'' said McKay.

Isacson said his lab injects into the brain specific cells extracted from the
embryo and that a natural process in the brain then transforms them into
dopamine producers.

''The cells organize themselves to become very functional,'' he said. ''We see
the cells behaving in a way to reverse the symptoms (of Parkinson's) in the
mouse and rat.''

Fri, 08 Aug 2003 11:04:00 GMT
 [ 1 post ] 

 Relevant Pages 


2. diference between stem cells and totipotent cells

3. Cancer cells are stem cells

4. Blood Cells Made From Stem Cells

5. Vitamin C Transforms Mouse Stem Cells into Heart Muscle Cells

6. Biocyte Cell Bank and Stem Cells

7. European ban against embryonic stem cells can be avoided by using EHSI 3-d patient-derived stem cells instead

8. need info on stem-cell transplants for cancer therapy

Powered by phpBB® Forum Software