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Cloning may help find cure for Parkinson's
March 24, 2008 11:33 IST
It's a breakthrough that offers hope for treating Parkinson's through cloning -- that is, by growing a patient's own brain tissue to repair the damage caused by the disease.
A team of international researchers has found that therapeutic cloning, the same method used to create Dolly the sheep, can be used to treat Parkinson's disease, which robs people of the ability to walk and even eat.
According to the researchers, led by Lorenz Studer of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre in the United States, cloned cells are useful because they are genetically identical to the patient, and are not rejected.
The team came to the conclusion after they succeeded in using the 'nuclear transfer' cloning method to turn mice tail cells into embryonic cells, and then into the desired nerve cells.
They derived 187 lines of nerve cells from 24 mice with Parkinson's. The mice that received a graft of 100,000 neurons derived from their own cloned embryos exhibited brain improvements, the Nature Medicine journal has reported.
According to the researchers, the principle is to create specific nerve cells, producing the signaling chemical dopamine, which are destroyed by Parkinson's.
Although carrying out the procedure on humans is a long way off, in the short term, the researchers hope to test new drugs on brain cells from Parkinson's patients, grown in the laboratory. "There's considerable therapeutic potential for the future," they concluded in the journal.
Experts in this field have welcomed the research.
"This is an exciting development, as for the first time we can see that it may be possible to create a person's own embryonic stem cells to potentially treat Parkinson's," Dr Kieran Breen of the Parkinson's Disease Society was quoted by The Daily Telegraph as saying.