Mother cells which produce the neurons affected by Parkinson’s disease have been identified by scientists, according to new research published in the journal Glia.
The new discovery could pave the way for future treatments for the disease, including the possibility of growing new neurons, and the cells which support them, in the lab. Scientists hope these could then be transplanted into patients to counteract the damage caused by Parkinson’s.
The new study focuses on dopaminergic neurons – brain cells which produce and use the chemical dopamine to communicate with surrounding neurons. The researchers found that these important neurons are created when a particular type of cell in the embryonic brain divides during the early stages of brain development in the womb.
The international research team used mouse models in the laboratory to examine the early stages of brain formation. They discovered that dopaminergic neurons are formed by precursor cells identified as ‘radial glia-like cells’ by the scientists because of their similarity to radial glia cells which are already known to build other parts of the brain.
Release date: April 7, 2008
Source: Imperial College London
Filed Under: Drug Discovery