09 Sep Stem Cell Therapy Has Potential to Help Patients With Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease is unmistakable because of the extreme tremors patients can experience. It damages neurons in the brain and progressively causes them to die, leading to motor and coordination issues. There is no current cure for Parkinson’s, and patients generally have to manage daily shaking that affects their quality of life. Stem cells are being explored as a potential treatment to regenerate new brain cells and restore partial or full function to the muscle system.
What is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s disease is a condition that affects the brain, resulting in a progressive loss of coordination and movement. It is the most common form of parkinsonism disorders and is sometimes called idiopathic or primary parkinsonism. In Parkinson’s disease, nerve cells in a region of the brain begin to malfunction or die. Some of the neurons are responsible for producing a chemical called dopamine. Dopamine acts as a neurotransmitter, which functions to pass signals between neurons. It is essential in sending messages from the brain to muscle tissue for movement and coordination. Parkinson’s is a progressive disease.
Some patients may have the disease develop faster over time than others. As more dopamine-producing neurons die, the levels of dopamine in the brain decrease until patients are unable to control normal movements. This progression is prolonged, and symptoms usually are visible after about 70 to 80 percent of the nerve cells have been lost.
The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease can vary, but the most common symptoms include involuntary tremors, slowed movement, rigidity or stiffness of the muscles and joints, and impaired balance. Parkinson’s disease also can cause a range of non-motor symptoms, such as sleep problems, constipation, slurred speech, and mood disorders. The root cause of Parkinson’s is currently unknown, although research is ongoing into the diseases origin and symptoms.
The disease is believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Parkinson’s itself is not considered fatal; however, the progression of the symptoms can reduce the quality of life and contribute to complications, such as infections, that can be fatal if not treated. Although there is no cure for the disease, there is a range of treatment options available to manage the symptoms, including medication, surgical intervention, and lifestyle changes.
How Can Stem Cell Therapy Help Parkinson’s Patients?
There is no current cure for Parkinson’s disease, only treatment methods to control the symptoms and progression. Stem cell therapy is being seen as a possible way to treat Parkinson’s disease. Stem cell therapy is a new method of regenerative medicine. Doctors can take stem cells and program them into new, healthy tissue for implantation into the diseased area of the body. These stem cells affect the immune system as well as regenerating new tissue. These stem cells can be programmed to become brain cells and then be implanted into the brains of Parkinson’s patients where the disease has degenerated neurons. The stem cells will then control brain inflammation and replace the damaged neurons, creating new connections, and restoring motor functioning.