Stem Cells to Help Create Personalized Parkinson's Treatment

Using stem cells, a nationwide team of scientists have been able to isolate the disease outside the human body, allowing them to test different variables and find better treatments. 

What's the Latest Development?

A nationwide team of scientists, led by a member of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI), have successfully used stem cells to further the goal of creating personalized medical treatments for Parkinson's disease. "The team of scientists created induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) from the skin cells of patients and at-risk individuals carrying genetic mutations implicated in Parkinson’s disease, and used those cells to derive neural cells, providing a platform for studying the disease in human cells outside of patients." Ole Isacson, a leader of the study and HSCI principal faculty member, said: "This is the first comprehensive study of how human neuronal cells can be models of Parkinson’s, and how it might be treated."

What's the Big Idea?

Because scientists were able to isolate the disease outside the body with the help of stem cells, they could control for certain variables which allowed them to test treatments in a more systematic way. "This study points the way to screening patients with Parkinson’s for their particular variation of the disease, and then treating them with drugs shown effective to work on that variation, rather than trying to treat all patients with the same drugs, as is generally done now." While different patients with the same neurological disease have typically received the same treatment, they may have the disease for different reasons, meaning different solutions may be warranted. 

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