Research highlight

Stem cells from Parkinson’s disease patients

Nature Communications

February 8, 2012

Pluripotent stem cells can be generated from Parkinson’s disease skin cells reports a paper published in Nature Communications this week. These findings provide a tool for studying Parkinson’s disease more closely in the laboratory. Jian Feng and colleagues took skin cells called fibroblasts from two patients carrying a mutation in the gene Parkin - a gene that is mutated in recessively inherited Parkinson’s disease. They reprogrammed the cells into pluripotent stem cells and then differentiated the cells into neurons resulting in dopaminergic midbrain neurons that showed features of oxidative stress and defects in dopamine release and uptake. The team found that the phenotype - or the observable characteristics and traits - of the cells could be rescued by adding the wild type protein back to the cells. These cells could be used to facilitate the study of Parkinson’s disease and may be useful for the screening of compounds which could be utilized in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

doi: 10.1038/ncomms1669

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