Articles

Can Stem Cell Therapy Treat Parkinson's Disease?

by Prapti Chauhan Prapti Chauhan

Parkinson’s disease, commonly known as Parkinson’s or PD, is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects body movement. Research has shown that baby stem cells, obtained from cord blood banking, may prove useful in treating PD. It is widely believed that PD is caused due to decreased levels of dopamine, a type of neurotransmitter, in the body. While some experts say PD is caused by a specific genetic mutation, others believe environmental triggers such as toxins, drugs, medications, and brain injury could be the reason. However, the exact cause of PD remains unknown.

Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease

The most common symptom of PD is tremor which usually starts as shaking of the fingers and then gradually affects the limbs. The hand may start trembling even when at rest. The other common symptoms are as follows:

  • Slowed movements

  • Impaired posture while walking

  • Fixed facial expressions

  • A tremor in the voice

  • Muscle stiffness

  • Slur, stammering, or hesitation while speaking

  • Changed handwriting

  • Restlessness while sleeping

  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing

  • Fatigue

  • Depression

  • Dementia

  • Hallucination

Treating Parkinson’s Using Stem Cells

Presently, there is no established cure for PD. Instead, doctors try to manage the condition in their patients with medication, lifestyle changes, and physical therapies. Since dopamine cannot be given to PD patients directly, they are given a combination of levodopa and carbidopa, which gradually increases dopamine levels. Sometimes, surgical procedures such as deep brain stimulation are performed to treat PD.

Research shows promise that stem cells can be used to treat PD. Umbilical cord blood stem cells are capable of treating neurological diseases including PD as they can replace the missing dopamine neurons. Umbilical cord blood preservation benefits patients in finding a cure for their condition.

Baby stem cells have been used in research laboratories to create a matrix that can stimulate the growth of nerve cell progenitors into miniature structures resembling substantia nigra, or mini-SNLSs. These mini-SNLSs contain nerve cells that can produce dopamine, essential for Parkinson’s patients. The experiment was successful in the rat model of Parkinson’s, giving hope to cure not only Parkinson’s but also other neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

The banking of stem cells and subsequent research has paved the way to find a permanent cure for PD. In a recent study, seven PD patients aged between 22 years and 62 years were included in a pilot study of single-dose transplantation of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). These patients were followed up for three years post-transplant. Three of the seven patients showed significant improvement. If cord blood banking becomes more prevalent then the scope of a cure for PD would significantly improve. With the availability of more stem cells, more research experiments and subsequent treatment can happen. 

Conclusion

In the last four decades, the interest in regenerative therapy has increased. Doctors are realising the potential of stem cells in increasing the levels of dopamine and restoring the lost motor function among PD patients. If it is a genetic condition, as many believe, then cord blood banking can be beneficial to treat the condition later on as well. With successful stem cell banking, many patients will find a cure for PD and other neurological diseases in near future.


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About Prapti Chauhan Freshman   Prapti Chauhan

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Joined APSense since, September 7th, 2020, From Kolkata, India.

Created on Aug 13th 2021 01:36. Viewed 118 times.

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