Parkinson's is still incurable. The degenerative disorder of the central nervous system affects many and a search for the cure is still on. Now, a team of scientists from John Hopkins have been able to grow the brain cells that are usually destroyed by the disease by using skin stem cells. These could lead to new forms of treatment for people with Parkinson's.
Scientists have been using the lab grown brain cells to test the effectiveness of drugs currently in development to treat Parkinson's. They explain in their report that the ability to test in the lab should speed up the search for new drugs to treat the condition. The report is published in Science Translational Medicine.
Ted M. Dawson explains another possibility of the development:
"Our study suggests that some failed drugs should actually work if they were used earlier, and especially if we could diagnose Parkinson's before tremors and other symptoms first appear."
Scientists have been able to halt Parkinson's in mice before, though sadly, none of the compounds used on mice had an effect on humans, suggesting that the disease works different in humans to animals.
The theory is that Parkinson's damages the mitochondria of dopamine neurons in the brain, in effect cutting off their energy supply. The John Hopkins researchers will have to investigate how they can down that damage in lab grown cells next. [Science Translational Medicine via John Hopkins]