Exciting times for stem cell research

This week, early results from the world's first clinical trial using embryonic stem cells to treat eye conditions suggest the method is safe. This is an important step towards developing stem cells as a treatment, and offers hope for many conditions for which there isn't a cure at the moment – including Parkinson's.

Stem cells have great potential to grow new nerve cells that could one day be used to replace those lost in Parkinson's. And research around the world is making massive strides towards this goal.

In November last year, we reported on research in the US which used nerve cells grown from human embryonic stem cells to repair the brain in 3 animal models of Parkinson's.

While this early research is promising, more work is needed before stem cells can be tested in people with Parkinson's.

It's impossible to predict how long it will take for stem cell therapies to become a reality for people with Parkinson's. But we're funding some of the best and brightest UK stem cell scientists to move this vital research forward as quickly as possible.

Parkinson's UK-funded researcher Dr Rosemary Fricker answered some questions about stem cell research in our stem cell Q&A.

If you have any thoughts or questions about stem cell research, please add a comment below or email us on research@parkinsons.org.uk

1 comment:

Parkinson's UK said...

The stem cell discoveries keep coming thick and fast.

In the news today skin cells have been converted directly into brain cells by researchers in California: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-16788809

This new breakthrough means it's now possible to turn adult skin cells into 'neural precursor' cells - which develop into 3 types of brain cell - without needing an intermediate 'stem cell' stage in the process.

Researchers have already managed to transform skin cells directly into nerve cells. But these precursor cells have the advantage that they can be grown in the laboratory into very large numbers. This could make them really useful for research and could be critical if the cells were to be used in any therapy.

The next step is to try to replicate these findings using human skin cells.

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