The production of induced pluripotent stem cells from the skin cells of a Parkinson’s disease patient mimic the features of the disease reports a paper published in Nature Communications this week. These cells can be used to study the disease more accurately and may aid in the identification of compounds that can reduce the expression of proteins responsible for the disease.
Michael Devine, Tilo Kunath and colleagues, used skin cells from a patient with familial Parkinson’s disease that carries elevated copies of the gene alpha-synuclein. The cells were used to generate induced pluripotent stem cells that could then be differentiated into neurons. The resulting neurons produced twice the amount of alpha-synuclein compared to cells from an unaffected family member, demonstrating that features of the disease were retained in the neurons. These cells may aid in the discovery of the mechanisms that lead to Parkinson’s disease and may permit the identification of compounds that can reduce alpha-synuclein levels.