Researchers studying Parkinsons disease with monkeys have managed to succeed in ridding them of their symptoms by having them undergo adult uterine stem cell transplants.
The researchers from the National Institutes of Health and the Yale School of Medicine made use of stem cells that had been taken from the uteri of female monkeys by injecting them into male monkeys brains.
Some patients have been known to respond to certain drug treatments for Parkinsons disease in the past, but these stem cell treatments differ due to the fact that they treat not only the symptoms of the disease but also its underlying causes.
There are also many patients for whom the current pharmacological treatments are of no assistance whatsoever, but the potential of stem cell treatments is that they would almost certainly work for everyone who suffers from Parkinsons disease.
Avoiding Ethical Concerns
Levent Mutlu, one of the authors of the study and a postdoctoral fellow with the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department at the Yale School of Medicine in the United States, and senior author and professor Hugh Taylor say that using uterine stem cells not only avoids the ethical concerns associated with embryonic cells - which have previously been shown to succeed at treating people whose disease has reached advanced stages - but also do not cause some of the possible side-effects, which include brain tumours.
Treatment Could Benefit Australian Patients
The researchers believe that given that hysterectomies are such a common medical procedure, it would be simple to create a bank that was able to pair up these patients with donors that are matched to them on an immunological level.
Taylor says that the researchers are now trying to gather the funds needed to perform a bigger study with monkeys that have severe Parkinson’s disease, but that the success of the current study is a sign of things to come. He believes that a big breakthrough in the treatment of Parkinsons disease is now less than a decade away.
Parkinsons disease is currently incurable and affects millions of people all over the world, including in Australia, and has a severe affect on mobility in its later stages, with many sufferers having to make use of mobility aids such as wheelchairs and stairlifts. 30 people a day are currently diagnosed with Parkinsons in Australia so any signs of a breakthrough in treatment is very much welcomed.