Those afflicted with Parkinson's lack a certain chemical called dopamine, which is produced in the brain. The resulting loss of muscle control can be temporarily relieved for some patients through drug therapies, however there is still no cure.
Researchers in Australia simulated Parkinson's disease in the brains of laboratory rats, which made the rats run in circles. The afflicted rats were then injected with stem cells which were extracted and cultured from the nasal cavity of Parkinson's patients. The rats re-gained their ability to run in a straight line. Prof. Alan Mackay-Sim from the National Centre for Adult Stem Cell Research who led the study, said that this proves that the adult stem cells differentiated into dopamine-producing neurons. None of the transplants formed tumors in the rats, as had similar models using embryonic stem cells.
The undifferentiated stem cells from the olfactory nerve in the nose, are influenced by the environment they are injected into. In this case, they were transplanted into the brain and became dopamine producing brain cells.
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