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The Griffith University study published in the journal Stem Cells found that adult stem cells harvested from the noses of Parkinson's patients gave rise to dopamine-producing brain cells when transplanted into the brain of a rat. The debilitating symptoms of Parkinson's such as loss of muscle control are caused by degeneration of cells that produce the essential chemical dopamine in the brain. Current drug therapies replace dopamine in the brain, but these often become less effective after prolonged use.
The discovery is the work of the National Centre for Adult Stem Cell Research, part of Griffith's Eskitis Institute for Cell and Molecular Therapies. Project leader Professor Alan Mackay-Sim said researchers simulated Parkinson's symptoms in rats by creating lesions on one side of the brain similar to the damage Parkinson's causes in the human brain.
"The lesions to one side of the brain made the rats run in circles," he said.
"When stem cells from the nose of Parkinson's patients were cultured and injected into the damaged area the rats re-aquired the ability to run in a straight line."All animals transplanted with the human cells had a dramatic reduction in the rate of rotation within just 3 weeks," he said.
"This provided evidence the cells had differentiated to give rise to dopamine-producing neurons influenced by being in the environment of the brain. In-vitro tests also revealed the presence of dopamine.""Significantly, none of the transplants led to formation of tumours or teratomas in the host rats as has occurred after embryonic stem cell transplantation in a similar model.
He said like all stem cells, stem cells from the olfactory nerve in the nose are 'naïve' having not yet differentiated into which sort of cells they will give rise to."They can still be influenced by the environment they are put into. In this case we transplanted them into the brain, where they were directed to give rise to dopamine producing brain cells."The advantage of using a patient's own cells is that, unlike stem cells from a foreign embryo, they are not rejected by the patient's immune system, so patients are free from a lifetime of potentially dangerous immuno-suppressant drug therapy.This development follows Professor Mackay-Sim's 2006 development of a world-first technique that demonstrated that olfactory adult stem cells can give rise to heart, nerve, liver and brain cells.
Co-authors on the paper were Wayne Murrell, Andrew Wetzig, Michael Donnellan, François Féron, Tom Burne, Adrian Meedeniya, James Kesby, John Bianco, Chris Perry, Peter Silburn.
The study was funded by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council and the Australian Department of Health and Ageing.
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The life of Marie Schlau, a German Jewish girl born in 1833 hides great unsolved mysteries: accidents, disappearances, enigmas, unknown diagnoses, disturbing murders, love, tenderness, greed, lies, death ... alternatively a different story unfolds every time and takes us closer to the present. Thus, there are two parallel stories unravelling, each in a different age and place, which surprisingly converge in a revelatory chapter.
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Currently, BabelFAmily is financing two promising research projects aimed at finding a cure for Friedreich's Ataxia. Whenever you make a donation to us or purchase a copy of "The legacy of Marie Schlau", this is where all funds raised will be devoted to:
1) Gene Therapy for Friedreich's Ataxia research project:
The project is the result of an initiative of Spanish people affected by this rare disease who are grouped in GENEFA in collaboration with the Spanish Federation of Ataxias and the BabelFAmily. The Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA), one of the main patients’ associations in the United States now joins the endeavour.
2) Frataxin delivery research project:
The associations of patients and families Babel Family and the Asociación Granadina de la Ataxia de Friedreich (ASOGAF) channel 80,000 euros of their donations (50% from each organisation) into a new 18-month project at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona). The project specifically aims to complete a step necessary in order to move towards a future frataxin replacement therapy for the brain, where the reduction of this protein causes the most damage in patients with Friedreich’s Ataxia.
The study is headed by Ernest Giralt, head of the Peptides and Proteins Lab, who has many years of experience and is a recognised expert in peptide chemistry and new systems of through which to delivery drugs to the brain, such as peptide shuttles—molecules that have the capacity to carry the drug across the barrier that surrounds and protects the brain. Since the lab started its relation with these patients’ associations in 2013*, it has been developing another two projects into Friedrich’s Ataxia.