New York, Feb 18 : Cell replacement may play an increasing role in alleviating the symptoms such as movement problems and memory loss of Parkinson's disease (PD), researchers say.
The most common PD treatment today is based on enhancing the activity of the nigrostriatal pathway in the brain with dopamine-modulating therapies, thereby increasing striatal dopamine levels and improving motor impairment associated with the disease.
However, this treatment has significant long-term limitations and side effects.
"We are in desperate need of a better way of helping people with PD. It is on the increase worldwide. There is still no cure, and medications only go part way to fully treat incoordination and movement problems," said Claire Henchcliffe, MD, from Weill Cornell Medicine in the US.
Recent strides in stem cell technology mean that quality, consistency, activity, and safety can be assured, and that it is possible to grow essentially unlimited amounts of dopamine-producing nerve cells in the laboratory for transplantation, said a study, published in the Journal of Parkinson's Disease.
"We are moving into a very exciting era for stem cell therapy. The first-generation cells are now being trialed and new advances in stem cell biology and genetic engineering promise even better cells and therapies in the future," said Malin Parmar, postdoctoral candidate from the Lund University in Sweden.
"There is a long road ahead in demonstrating how well stem cell-based reparative therapies will work, and much to understand about what, where, and how to deliver the cells, and to whom," said Parmar.