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Stem cells spell new hope for Parkinson patients

Cells from endometrium may repair damaged brain cells

world Updated: May 07, 2010 12:54 IST

In a major breakthrough which could pave the way for an effective treatment for Parkinson's, scientists claim to have found evidence that stem cells from uterine lining may repair brain cells damaged by the disease.

In its research, a team at Yale University found that stem cells derived from the endometrium and transplanted into the brains of laboratory mice with Parkinson's disease could restore the functioning of brain cells damaged by the disease.

Although these are preliminary results, the findings increase the likelihood that endometrial tissue be harvested from women with Parkinson's disease and used to re-grow brain areas that have been damaged by the disease, according to lead scientist Hugh S Taylor.

Parkinson's disease is caused by a breakdown of dopamine-producing nerve cells in the brain stem. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that stimulates the motor neurons that in turn control muscles. When dopamine production is reduced, the nerves aren't able to control movement or coordination.

And, because of their ability to divide into new cell types, stem cells could be the key to treating many different kinds of diseases, like Parkinson's, in which the body's own cells are damaged or depleted, the scientists say.

First Published: May 07, 2010 11:19 IST