Novel Stem Cell Technique Shows Promise in Treating Disease

Novel Stem Cell Technique Shows Promise in Treating Disease

Cell replacement therapy seeks to restore function in the body by replacing cells that are lost due to disease — or treatment for disease, as can occur with certain treatments for cancer — with new, healthy cells. In Parkinson’s disease, this means replacing dopamine cells in the brain, the main type of cell that degenerates in this disease.

In November, Center investigators published a study on a new strategy for using embryonic stem (ES) cells to graft human dopamine neurons into preclinical models of Parkinson’s disease. Historically, ES cells have shown the ability to become dopamine-producing neurons in the test tube, but have not been effective at treating Parkinson’s disease when transplanted into a living organism. However, the new technique has revealed promise in three animal models of Parkinson’s, reflecting the potential for dopamine cells’ survival and function in the brain.