Friday, May 07, 2010

Stem Cells from Endometrial Tissue Reverse Parkinson's?

Scientists at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), have injected endometrial stem cells into the brains of mice with an induced form of Parkinson's Disease. The injected stem cells began producing dopamine -- the neurotransmitter that is deficient in Parkinson's.
The finding raises the possibility that women with Parkinson's disease could serve as their own stem cell donors. Similarly, because endometrial stem cells are readily available and easy to collect, banks of endometrial stem cells could be stored for men and women with Parkinson's disease.

"These early results are encouraging," said Alan E. Guttmacher, M.D., acting director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the NIH Institute that funded the study. "Endometrial stem cells are widely available, easy to access and appear to take on the characteristics of nervous system tissue readily."

Parkinson's disease results from a loss of brain cells that produce the chemical messenger dopamine, which aids the transmission of brain signals that coordinate movement. This is the first time that researchers have successfully transplanted stem cells derived from the endometrium, or the lining of the uterus, into another kind of tissue (the brain) and shown that these cells can develop into cells with the properties of that tissue. The findings appear online in the Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine. _SD

An optimal form of brain regeneration would likely combine the use of exogenous growth factors and stem cells, along with the stimulation of endogenous stem cell and growth factor production. There is a lot to be learned about how the brain works normally, and what goes wrong in degenerative conditions, trauma, ischemia, and aging.

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