|From skin cells of patients with Parkinson’s disease, a possible cure|
The Grigioni Foundation cosponsor of a study that shows how skin fibroblasts can be transformed into dopaminergic neurons
Dr Vania Broccoli, Director of the Stem Cell and Neurogenesis Unit of San Raffaele Institute in Milan, Italy, together with his team of researchers, has developed a new method based on genetic engineering, which enables the transformation of skin cells (fibroblasts) into dopaminergic nervous cells (neurons) – the ones that patients with Parkinson’s disease lack. The method consists in the genetic reprogramming of the cell by inserting three genes (Mash1, Nurr1 e Lmx1a), which trigger the transformation into induced dopaminergic neurons (iDA).
The iDA have been submitted to a series of laboratory tests and the results show that they behave exactly like all other nervous cells, generating spontaneous electrical activity, forming synaptic contacts and releasing the dopamine that patients with Parkinson’s disease need so much. The researchers intend continuing their studies to assess the viability of these cells for transplantation, with the aim of replacing the dopaminergic nervous cells lost in the substantia nigra of the brain on account of the disease.
The importance of the discovery of this method has been acknowledged internationally by the publication of its results in Nature, the first scientific biomedical journal in the world.