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Stem cells reverse Parkinson's in monkeys

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  • Billsfan
    Stem cells reverse Parkinson s in monkeys Researchers implanted early embryos into damaged tissues Updated: 8:25 p.m. ET Jan. 3, 2005
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 4, 2005
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      Stem cells reverse Parkinson's in monkeys
      Researchers implanted early embryos into damaged tissues
      Updated: 8:25 p.m. ET Jan. 3, 2005

      http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6783024/

      WASHINGTON - Stem cells taken from tiny monkey embryos and implanted in
      the brain reversed some of the Parkinson's symptoms in monkeys used to
      study the disease, Japanese researchers reported on Monday.

      Their study, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation,
      supports arguments that stem cells taken from days-old embryos can be
      used to replace damaged tissues in a range of diseases, experts said.

      But they also cautioned that the study was preliminary and needed much
      more follow-up.

      Yasushi Takagi and colleagues at Kyoto University grew stem cells from
      early monkey embryos and coaxed them into becoming, or differentiating
      into, neurons. They then transplanted these into the brains of monkeys
      who had been given a Parkinson's-like condition using chemical damage.

      Parkinson's is caused when key brain cells that produce the
      message-carrying chemical dopamine die off. Symptoms start with a
      trembling and patients can end up paralyzed. There is no cure.

      Cell transplants have been a big hope of researchers, and many groups
      have tried transplanting brain cells into patients, including cells from
      the fetuses of pigs and humans.

      Proponents of embryonic stem-cell research believe their field offers a
      good opportunity, as these cells have the ability to become a range of
      tissues without causing immune reactions.

      Opponents say using a human embryo for such research or even treatment
      is unethical. Current law forbids the use of U.S. federal funds for most
      embryonic stem-cell research.

      Jun Takahashi and colleagues coaxed monkey embryonic stem cells into
      becoming neurons and then added FGF20, a growth factor that is produced
      exclusively in the area of the brain affected by Parkinson disease.

      Then they transplanted the cells into the brains of macaques. The
      monkeys showed reduced symptoms from their Parkinson's-like disease and
      when they were killed, the transplanted cells were found to have grown
      in their brains, Takahashi's team said.

      Dr. William Langston of the Parkinson's Institute in Sunnyvale,
      California, called the study a milestone but noted that the brain cells
      made by the Japanese team did not survive very well.

      "Clearly the study reported here will advance research aimed at
      validating the use of stem cells to treat neurodegenerative disease,"
      Langston wrote in a commentary.

      "And this is most welcome, particularly for investigators working on
      strategies for cell replacement the United States," Langston added,
      referring to the political controversy over embryonic stem cells.
      Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or
      redistribution of Reuters content is expressly prohibited without the
      prior written consent of Reuters.

      http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6783024/
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