The researchers collected skin cells from patients with genetically inherited forms of Parkinson's and reprogrammed those cells into neurons. They found that neurons derived from individuals with distinct types of Parkinson's showed common signs of distress and vulnerability in particular, abnormalities in the cellular energy factories known as mitochondria. At the same time, the cells' responses to different treatments depended on the type of Parkinson's each patient had.
The results were published in Science Translational Medicine.
"These findings suggest new opportunities for clinical trials of Parkinson's disease, in which cell reprogramming technology could be used to identify the patients most likely to respond to a particular intervention," said Margaret Sutherland, Ph.D., a program director at NIH's National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).
A consortium of researchers conducted the study with primary funding from NINDS. The consortium is led by Ole Isacson, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of neurology at McLean Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston.