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 discovered a treatment to eradicate the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in mice. Not only that, but the therapy could be helpful in various conditions that call for the need to replace damaged tissue: diabetes, spinal cord injuries, even coronary disease.
The research involved a siRNA technique, for which scientists grew fibroblasts (a form of connective tissue cell) in petri dishes while silencing the protein PTB. After several weeks, they were shocked to realize a large portion of fibroblasts had changed 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.
Obviously, the process to figure out if these outcomes transfer to humans takes time and caution to ensure safety, however for those struggling with the disease along with other neurodegenerative conditions, it’s cause for hope.
As Fu explains, “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?”
As we await the subsequent steps in this fascinating breakthrough, you can depend on Seniorcorp, providers of home health care in Virginia Beach and the surrounding area, for experienced, highly trained care for individuals diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Several of the many ways we can help include:
- Nutritious meal planning and preparation
- Light household chores
- Grocery shopping and other errands
- Personal care, such as bathing/showering, getting dressed, etc.
- Cheerful companionship
- Safe, accompanied transportation
- And a lot more