NWPF

News ArchivesRead News

Implanted eye cells eased Parkinson’s

Thursday December 22, 2005

Andrew Stern

December 19, 2005(Reuters Health) - A handful of people with Parkinson’s disease showed marked improvement after surgeons implanted in their brains chemical-producing cells taken from the eye of a dead donor, researchers said last week.

Cells from the inner, or pigment, layer of the eye’s retina make levodopa, which Parkinson’s patients commonly take in pill form to replace lost production of the neurotransmitter dopamine.

Dopamine allows the brain to control the body’s movements.

For most patients, levodopa pills lose their effectiveness within five years, and larger and larger doses are needed to curb the involuntary movements and shaking symptomatic of the disease.

Many people on the drug develop involuntary writhing or dance-like movements.

The retina cells were cultivated and implanted in the brains of six patients with advanced Parkinson’s, researcher Natividad Stover of the University of Alabama said.

One year later, the patients scored 48 percent higher on tests of movement and coordination, and the improvement was sustained after two years, Stover wrote in the journal Archives of Neurology.

’’The implants were well tolerated," the report said. Improvement was also observed in daily living and quality of life.

Parkinson’s is a degenerative disease in which key brain cells that produce dopamine die off. Symptoms start with tremors and rigidity, and patients can end up paralyzed. The cause of the disease, which attacks 2 percent of men and 1.3 percent of women, is unknown, and there is no cure.

Some scientists have viewed implanting fetal stem cells into the brains of Parkinson’s patients as a promising avenue to restore dopamine production. But preliminary human trials were disappointing, and animal experiments have yielded mixed results.

Other treatments showing promise include deep brain stimulation with implanted electrodes, drugs that promote brain cell growth, and gene therapy.

The researchers said a larger study has been started to test the efficacy and safety of retina cell implants.

Recent News

May 20 - Book Review: Aging in the Key of Humor
May 19 - Press Release: The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research Joins Multinational Critical Path for Parkinson's Consortium
May 19 - Congress reaches deal to overhaul chemical regulation
May 16 - Lifestyle: Why Parkinson's disease won't stop me rowing across the Pacific
May 16 - Many biomarkers for PD fail to inform on progression
May 10 - Parkinson's Cell Transplant Shows Good Reinnervation at 24 Years
May 7 - Growing art installation gathers stories of living with Parkinson's
May 5 - New technique can provide better cell transplants against Parkinson's disease
May 2 - What's Good For The Heart Is Good For The Brain
Apr 29 - Press Release: FDA approves first drug to treat hallucinations and delusions associated with Parkinson’s disease
Apr 28 - Dopamine-making neurons can be chemically controlled in animal model of Parkinson's
Apr 25 - Lifestyle: Dating with Disease
Apr 25 - Scientific breakthrough in fight against Parkinson's and Alzheimer's
Apr 20 - Breakthrough Parkinson's disease blood test
Apr 15 - Living with Parkinson's
Apr 12 - Tissue biomarker for dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinson’s disease
Apr 11 - Yoga for Every Body: Experts say yoga can ease pain and improve mobility for people with neurologic conditions
Apr 9 - Commonly prescribed Parkinson's drugs up risk of compulsive gambling, shopping, binge eating, hypersexuality
Apr 7 - Pfizer and IBM Launch Innovative Research Project to Transform Parkinson's Disease Care
Apr 7 - Parkinson's Drug Highly Effective for Resistant Depression