Washington: Scientists claim to have developed a new way to treat Parkinson`s, using stem cells to replace cells damaged in the disease.
An international team, led by the Florey Neuroscience Institutes and the University of Melbourne, says that the new technique could be developed even for application in other degenerative conditions.
In regards to Parkinson`s disease, there is a progressive and permanent loss of a group of dopamine-producing brain cells that form an essential pathway in the brain circuitry controlling movement.
The first step of the technique involves generating the dopamine brain cells that are missing in Parkinson`s disease, say the scientists.
"By following what we know about brain development we have been able to re-create an environment in the culture dish that allows us to generate specific cell types that may be therapeutic," Clare Parish, who led the team, said.
"A limitation of the procedure, however, is that it is inefficient. This means that only around 30 percent of the cells become dopamine brain cells while the others may remain as stem cells.
"This poses significant risks in a transplantation setting because the stem cells may continue to grow and form tumours," she said.
The team is also working on an innovative approach using a state-of-the-art cell-sorting technology to solve the problem, say the scientists.
"Overall we have identified some interesting findings that help us to isolate the dopamine brain cells and discard the stem cells prior to transplantation. It`s a strategy that we hope will bring us a step closer to clinical trials for a stem cell based treatment for Parkinson`s.
"The broader significance is that this novel approach will likely be applicable to the development of stem cell- based treatments for other neurological conditions such as stroke, motor neuron disease and Huntington`s disease," Lachlan Thompson, a team member, said.