Parkinson’s brain cells ‘breakthrough’

Scientists have generated stem cells from one of the more aggressive forms of Parkinson’s disease.

The researchers at the University of Edinburgh collaborating with UCL (University College London), used skin samples from a patient with the disease to create brain nerve cells.

This development could help scientists find out why it is that nerve cells die and will also make it easier to trial new drugs that could slow down or stop the spread of the disease.

The research, funded by a £300,000 grant from Parkinson’s UK, involved the creation of brain nerve cells affected by the disease using skin cells. The main aim is to formulate drugs that can prevent the death of neurons, caused by Parkinson’s disease.

This particular form of Parkinson’s is more aggressive than others, and people suffering with it have twice as many of the genes that produce a protein, alpha synuclein, than people who do not suffer with it. This form is rare but the protein involved with its contraction is linked to most types of the disease.

Dr Kieran Breen, of Parkinson's UK, said, “Although the genetic mutation that leads to this progressive form of Parkinson's is rare, this exciting study has the potential to bring about a huge breakthrough in Parkinson's research.”

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