Sunday, February 12, 2012

University Research- Parkinson's Disease

Researchers have made a breakthrough with the human debilitating disease, Parkinson's. For the first time ever, researchers have created human brain cells from the skin cells of patients who carry a mutated gene related to the disease. This means researchers can now track and follow exactly how this mutation, in a gene called parkin, causes the disease in about 10% of the patients. This is a major and incredible breakthrough because it will allow researchers to study brain cells affected by in real time mode. Animals that do not have this gene cannot easily develop similar like symptoms, so researchers must use human neurons for the study, but it’s generally difficult almost impossible to get live human brain cells to study as such a case might be. These further findings are a major breakthrough in University Studies and are continuing the future of humans.

["Jian Feng and colleagues at the State University of New York-Buffalo took skin cells from 4 patients, including 2 healthy patients and two patients carrying the mutation. They induced the skin cells to become pluripotent stem cells, and then differentiated them into neurons specifically, mid-brain neurons that create dopamine, called dopaminergic neurons. The loss of these neurons, which are the brain’s primary source of dopamine, causes symptoms like loss of motor control.
The gene indirectly harms those neurons. Here’s how it works: parkin regulates the production of an enzyme, monamine oxidase, which in turn keeps dopamine at bay. Mutations do not control this MAO, and the MAO essentially runs amok, causing harm to the dopamine-producing neurons."] Source: PopSci, NY State University Research.

Hopefully major breakthroughs arise from this technological breakthrough and some sort of vaccine is the result. During my psychology lecture class we saw the effects of this horrible disease and it was sad to see the people affected by it. It is reassuring to know colleges and University are ongoing with their research time to find a cure.

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