Researchers at the UC San Diego School of Medicine who thought they were examining connective tissue cell protein got quite a surprise when they alternatively discovered a therapy to eliminate the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in mice. Not just that, but the treatment could be beneficial in various conditions that call for the need to replace damaged tissue: diabetes, spinal cord injuries, perhaps even heart problems.
The study involved a siRNA technique, for which researchers grew fibroblasts (a form of connective tissue cell) in petri dishes while silencing the protein PTB. After a few weeks, they were shocked to realize almost all fibroblasts had changed into neurons.
Xiang-Dong Fu, lead researcher of the study, stated, “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 method to ascertain if these results transfer to humans takes some time and caution to make certain of safety, however for those having difficulties because of the disease along with 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 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 look forward to the next steps in this fascinating breakthrough, you are able to depend on JFS Care, senior caregivers in the Los Angeles area, for knowledgeable, highly skilled care for people who have Parkinson’s disease. Examples of the various ways we are able to help include:
• Healthy meal planning and preparation
• Light household chores
• Grocery shopping and other errands
• Personal care, including bathing/showering, getting dressed, etc.
• Friendly companionship
• Safe, accompanied transportation
• And much more
To learn how we can help a senior you love with in-home care needs, reach out to us at (213) 383-2273 to learn more, and to set up a free in-home consultation.