Stem cell therapy may have the benefit of neurons within the brain, combating the progression of Parkinson's Disease (PD)
Louis A. Cona M.D.
Nov 6, 2019
Explaining the relationship between stem cell therapy and Parkinson's.
Parkinson's Disease is a degenerative nervous system condition that affects one's movement. Symptoms often start quite gradually, with minor issues such as small tremors within the extremities (hands). Currently, there is no cure for Parkinson's Disease (PD) but certain medications do have the capacity to help manage symptoms. Some doctors may also recommend surgery to address certain symptoms, which involves regulating certain areas of the brain.
Parkinson's DIsease (PD) can include a variety of symptoms that vary in severity and type amongst the affected population. Early signs of the condition can sometimes go unnoticed but as the disease progresses one can expect these symptoms:
Parkinson's Disease is caused by a loss (or deterioration) of nerve cells in the brain. This loss of nerve cells within the brain results in a reduced amount of dopamine being created which acts as a messenger between the parts of your brain that control voluntary and involuntary movement. Therefore without that vital connection, your brain starts losing the ability to effectively control movement. Currently, it is unknown what causes the deterioration of nerve cells associated with Parkinson's Disease (PD). Currently, it is believed that both environmental factors, as well as genetic factors, may play a role in the loss of nerve cells.
Parkinson's Disease is a lifelong condition that can greatly impair the ability of one's daily functions. Traditional treatments only address the symptoms of the condition, but researchers are excited about the possibilities of certain gene therapies and stem cell therapy, which may have the ability to reverse damage and halt the progression of the disease.
Stem cells are cells that have not yet specialized in the body, meaning they have not grown to a particular type of cell with a specific function (e.g. muscle cell, skin cell, etc). A stem cell can become many different cell types in the human body. The process of stem cells become new types of cells is called differentiation. This process is the most important aspect of stem cell therapies, as the cells become the type of cells required for your body to heal. Stem cells are also self-replicating. This allows them to multiply into identical copies of the stem cells that have already gone through differentiation in the body. For example, if stem cells were used to treat a neurological injury, cells administered during treatment could become nerve cells, and then replicate to create exponentially more nerve cells on their own. This drastically increases the effectiveness of stem cell treatments over time.
According to Medical News Today "Currently, the most common therapy uses the drug levodopa to stimulate dopamine production in certain neurons associated with motor skills. These dopaminergic neurons are situated in the nigrostriatal pathway which is a brain circuit that connects neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta with the dorsal striatum. However, levodopa has a wide array of side effects, from physiological to psychological ones. Also, in the long-term, the benefits of such dopamine-regulating drugs are limited. So, scientists must come up with more effective strategies for repairing the brain damage that Parkinson's disease causes."
Stem cell therapy may have the benefit of replacing these damaged dopamine-producing nerve cells within the brain. This has already been found in a study conducted by Neelam K.Venkataramana and colleagues. Seven PD patients aged 22 to 62 years with a mean duration of disease 14.7 ± 7.56 years were enrolled to participate in the prospective, uncontrolled, pilot study of single-dose, unilateral transplantation of autologous bone-marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (BM-MSCs). Patients were followed up for 36 months post-transplant, 3 of the 7 patients showed significant improvement in their Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) of 38%.
At DVC Stem we are seeing promising results with Cord Tissue-Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells, cell numbers and viability has largely increased making the treatment more effective than Bone Marrow-Derived treatments in the early 2010s. The development of these advanced cellular therapies is making it possible to combat the progression of the disease without the resulting motor complications.
According the Venkataraman and colleagues, "A subjective improvement was found in symptoms like facial expression, gait, and freezing episodes; 2 patients have significantly reduced the dosages of PD medicine. These results indicate that our protocol seems to be safe, and no serious adverse events occurred after stem-cell transplantation in PD patients."
As stated in a 2005 study held by Brian Snyder,
Stem cells offer the potential to provide a virtually unlimited supply of optimized dopaminergic neurons that can provide enhanced benefits in comparison to fetal mesencephalic transplants. Stem cells have now been shown to be capable of differentiating into dopamine neurons that provide benefits following transplantation in animal models of Parkinson's disease.
Learn more about DVC Stem's protocol for Parkinson's Disease (PD) here: https://www.dvcstem.com/conditions/parkinsons
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