News ArchivesRead News

’Engineered’ Stem Cells May Help Treat Parkinson’s

Thursday December 22, 2005

12/15/05(Forbes) - Engineered human progenitor brain stem cells are able to produce and deliver into the brain a growth factor that shows promise in treating Parkinson’s disease, say researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

A major challenge in treating Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative brain disorders is getting drugs to the desired areas of the brain. The brain’s structure effectively blocks the delivery of most drugs via the bloodstream. The engineered progenitor brain cells are designed to sneak drugs past the blood-brain barrier.

The University of Wisconsin team obtained and grew large numbers of progenitor cells from human fetal brain tissue and engineered those cells to produce the growth factor called glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF).

Some small clinical trials showed that GDNF provide relief from the debilitating symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. However, GDNF could not cross the blood-brain barrier and had to be pumped directly into the brains of Parkinson’s patients in order to work.

In this latest study, researchers transplanted the engineered progenitor cells into the brains of rats and monkeys. The cells effectively integrated into the brains of the animals and delivered GDNF to the targeted brain areas.

The findings were published in the Dec. 15 issue of the journal Gene Therapy.

"This work shows that stem cells can be used as drug delivery vehicles in the brain," University of Wisconsin-Madison neuroscientist Clive Svendson said in a prepared statement.

Recent News

Nov 22 - A caregiver's story: Living and loving through the slow process of dying
Nov 19 - Testosterone cause of sex differences in the occurrence of Parkinson’s disease, new research suggests
Nov 18 - New strategy reduces side effects in Parkinson's treatment
Nov 14 - Opinion: The never-ending tests of Parkinson's disease
Nov 13 - Parkinson’s disease: A new tool for diagnosis
Nov 10 - Parkinson's Disease Drug May Be Useful For Delaying, Preventing Blindness In Older Population
Nov 9 - Microsoft VP’s diagnosis fuels employees’ heartfelt efforts to help others
Nov 6 - Lewy body dementia: unrecognized and misdiagnosed
Nov 5 - Gait difficulties in Parkinson's linked to new blood vessels in brain
Oct 30 - Special Section: Enabling Technologies for Parkinson’s Disease Management
Oct 27 - Scientists discover a 'switchboard' of molecules that protect against Parkinson's disease
Oct 26 - Dancing improves mobility and quality of life in people with Parkinson's
Oct 23 - The amazing woman who can smell Parkinson’s disease — before symptoms appear
Oct 20 - Personal Essay: The deviousness of dementia
Oct 19 - Mechanism that 'melts' protein clumps may lead to new Parkinson's treatments
Oct 19 - Researchers find that stem cell treatment may reduce cognitive impairment related to dementia with Lewy bodies
Oct 17 - Cancer Drug Helps Parkinson's Patients
Oct 12 - Researchers identify immune gene that can prevent Parkinson's disease and dementia
Oct 12 - Blog Post: An Alert, Well-Hydrated Artist in No Acute Distress
Oct 7 - This month, a brain surgery will be broadcast on live TV for the first time ever