A new method of synthesizing dopamine-producing neurons, the predominant type of brain cell destroyed in Parkinson's, offers hope for creating cell-replacement therapies that reverse the damage.
The method provides an efficient way of making functional cells. When transplanted into mice and rats with brain damage and movement problems similar to Parkinson's, the cells integrated into the brain and worked normally, reversing the animals' motor issues.
The finding brings researchers a step closer to testing a stem-cell-derived therapy in patients with this disorder. "We finally have a cell that seems to survive and function and a cell source that we can easily scale up," says Lorenz Studer, a researcher at the Sloan Kettering Institute and senior author on the new study. "That makes us optimistic that this could potentially be used in patients in the future."