Posted on: August 19, 2020
Researchers at the UC San Diego School of Medicine who believed they were examining connective tissue cell protein received quite a surprise when they instead came across a treatment to eradicate the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in mice. Not only that, but the therapy could potentially be helpful in a number of conditions that call for the need to replace damaged tissue: diabetes, spinal cord injuries, possibly even heart disease.
The research centered on a siRNA technique, in which researchers grew fibroblasts (a kind of connective tissue cell) in petri dishes while silencing the protein PTB. After a few weeks, they were shocked to realize nearly all fibroblasts had converted into neurons.
Lead author of the study, Xiang-Dong Fu, explained, “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.
Not surprisingly, the method to determine if these findings transfer to humans takes time and extreme care to be certain of safety, however for individuals struggling due to 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 Parkinson’s treatment, but also many other diseases where neurons are lost, such as Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s disease 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 anticipate the subsequent steps in this fascinating breakthrough, you can always depend on Alivity Care Advocates for professional, highly trained care management for people who have Parkinson’s disease.
To learn how we can help an adult you love with care management needs, reach out to us at (248) 375-9125 to learn more about our services for senior care in Rochester Hills and other surrounding areas.