Neurological diseases, disorders of the brain, spinal cord, and nerves, have traditionally been among the most difficult diseases to treat. Information regarding the detailed behavior of nerve and brain cells has been slow to develop, and dealing with nerve related problems at the cellular level has only recently become possible. Until now, there has been relatively little hope for addressing or even understanding such diseases. The good news is that more progress in understanding and dealing with neurological diseases has been made in the past 20 years than in all previous years combined. Stem cell technology in particular has shown promise in dealing with such diseases, by providing a viable way of replacing damaged nerve cells with healthy stem cell generated neuronal cells.
Parkinson's disease is a good example. Parkinson's is a degenerative nerve disease, where dopamine-generating cells in the brain start to die. Dopamine is an important neurotransmitter, which, together with other neurotransmitters, produces the complex pattern of nerve signals that control the body's muscles. Without it, nerve and muscle communication breaks down, resulting in reduced muscle control. As conditions worsen over time, the patient can develop severe tremors, and have difficulty balancing and walking. Internal and cognitive problems can eventually occur, and life expectancy is reduced.
Scientists now see stem cell technology as offering the best hope for a cure for Parkinson's, and real progress is being made every day. Using their own unique parthenogenetic stem cell (hpSC) technology, scientists at International Stem Cell are now able to derive neuronal cells that are suitable for implantation, and these cells have been demonstrated to successfully treat Parkinson's symptoms. Parthenogenetic cells, unique to ISCO, are of particular value because they don't have the immune matching problems of other stem cells, and a relatively small number hpSC lines could provide sufficient immune-matched cells to cover a large percentage of the world's population.
For more information, visit internationalstemcell.com
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