Stem Cells from Blood to Treat Parkinson ’s disease?
A team of researchers from Marshall University headed by Dr. Elmer M. Price claim to have identified and analyzed “special” adult stem cells in blood, that have the capacity to become neurons or nerve cells.
According to Price, these neurons have all the qualities required to treat degenerative neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Huntington’s disease, stroke and spinal injuries whose course is slow but progressing.
Parkinson’s disease, which usually affects people above 50 years, is a nervous system disorder that leads to tremors (shaking) and difficulty in walking and coordination.
This recent discovery is generating a new hope among scientists. The source of stem cells in this experiment is adult blood, which is easily accessible, unlike embryonic stem cells, which are surrounded with ethical issues and can some times tend to cause cancer.
However, the adult stem cells in Price’s experiment are present in all living animals and did not appear to cause cancer.
Neural stem cells are confined to specific regions in the brain. But, the results of this experiment throw light on this significant point that the neural-like stem cells found in the blood can rule out the issue of ‘scarcity’ of neural stem cells because blood could be housing a large pool of these cells.
Price’s group succeeded in isolating these unique neural-like stem cells from the blood of pigs. Since the physiology and anatomy of pigs is similar to those of humans, they are used as model animals in most of the research work.
Moreover, the results obtained so far in this experiment are promising.
His team members are contemplating the possibility of isolating these stem cells from human blood in the near future.
If they accomplish this task, patients with neurological disorders can get treated with stem cells extracted from their own blood.