Scientists at the UC San Diego School of Medicine who thought they were investigating connective tissue cell protein received quite a surprise when they instead stumbled upon a therapy that is curing Parkinson’s disease in mice and eliminating all signs and symptoms of it. Not only that, but the therapy might be useful in various conditions that call for the need to replace damaged tissue: diabetes, spinal cord injuries, perhaps even cardiovascular illnesses.
The research involved a siRNA technique, in which researchers grew fibroblasts (a form of connective tissue cell) in petri dishes while silencing the protein PTB. After a few weeks, they were surprised to learn nearly all fibroblasts had converted into neurons.
Xiang-Dong Fu, lead researcher of the study, stated, “Researchers around the world have tried many ways to generate neurons in the lab, using stem cells and other means, so we can study them better, as well as to use them to replace lost neurons in neurodegenerative diseases. The fact that we could produce so many neurons in such a relatively easy way came as a big surprise.”
The research team then decided to test their new theory on Parkinson’s disease in mice, finding that it completely restored movement and functionality for the remainder of the mice’s lifetime – even those with an advanced case of the disease.
Of course, the method to ascertain if these outcomes transfer to humans takes a while and extreme care to be certain of safety, but for individuals having difficulties with the disease and other neurodegenerative conditions, it is cause for optimism.
As Fu says, “It’s my dream to see this through to clinical trials, to test this approach as a treatment for Parkinson’s disease, but also many other diseases where neurons are lost, such as Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s diseases and stroke. And dreaming even bigger – what if we could target PTB to correct defects in other parts of the brain, to treat things like inherited brain defects?”
While we await the next steps in this significant breakthrough, you are able to rely on Relevar Home Care, providers of quality senior helpers in West Bloomfield, MI and surrounding areas, for professional, highly trained caregiving help for people who have Parkinson’s disease. Some of the various ways we can assist include:
- Nutritious meal planning and preparation
- Light household chores
- Shopping and other errands
- Personal care, including bathing/showering, getting dressed, etc.
- Cheerful companionship
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- And many more services