A new study believes to have found a way of ameliorating Parkinson symptoms. The research team considers that it may be able to do so by injecting a modified virus into a specific brain part. By doing so, they should be able to reprogram cells in order to help treat the disease.
People who have Parkinson’s disease have trouble controlling their movements. According to research, this happens as some of their dopamine-producing neurons start dying off. Dopamine is seen as a brain signaling chemical.
Now, this latest study proposes a new way of replacing such neurons. Research was carried out by a team of Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden scientists. They published their results in a paper in the Nature Biotechnology journal.
The research team, led by Ernest Arenas, tested its new method in lab tests on mice. These latter had already lost their brain’s dopamine neurons.
Parkinson Symptoms Could Reportedly Be Reduced, Even Treated, With Help From This New Method
The researchers stated that they injected the study mice with a specifically modified virus. This latter was engineered so as to carry 4 exact genes. These were used for reprogramming astrocytes which are also seen as the support cells of the brain. They were then turned into dopamine-producing neurons. Some 5 weeks later, the researchers started seeing an improvement in the way in which the mice moved.
“They walked better, and their gait showed less asymmetry than controls”. This is according to Arenas, the study lead.
The research team stated that the effects of its virus were only localized in the specific injection area. They did not notice astrocytes turning into dopamine-producing neurons in any other brain region. Also, they did not observe any adverse reactions nor did they see signs of tumors or other such counter effects.
As it is, the team stated that it would have to improve the technique and carry out careful safety checks before even trying such a technique on humans. Nonetheless, preliminary tests found that it may potentially be useful in humans as well.
Image Source: Wikimedia
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