Scientists at the UC San Diego School of Medicine who believed they were analyzing connective tissue cell protein got quite a shock when they alternatively discovered a treatment for Parkinson’s disease in mice. Not just that, but the therapy could be helpful in numerous conditions that call for the need to replace damaged tissue: diabetes, spinal cord injuries, perhaps even heart disease.
The study centered on a siRNA technique, in which scientists grew fibroblasts (a type of connective tissue cell) in petri dishes while silencing the protein PTB. After several weeks, they were shocked to realize a large portion of fibroblasts had converted into neurons.
Lead author of the study, Xiang-Dong Fu, explained, “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.”
Utilizing this new discovery, the researchers tested their theory on Parkinson’s disease in mice and found that movement and functionality were completely restored for the remainder of the mice’s lifetime.
Not surprisingly, the process to find out if these outcomes transfer to humans doesn’t happen overnight and requires caution to be certain of safety. However, for individuals struggling due to the disease or other neurodegenerative conditions, it is cause for hope.
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?”
While we await the subsequent steps in this exciting breakthrough, you can depend on Home Sweet Home In-Home Care, the experts in help at home in St. Joseph and the surrounding towns, for professional, highly trained home care for those diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Several of the various ways we are able to assist include:
- Healthy meal planning and preparation
- Light household chores
- Grocery shopping and other errands
- Personal care, such as bathing/showering, getting dressed, etc.
- Cheerful companionship
- Safe, accompanied transportation
- And much more