The study, featured on the cover of the journal Cell Stem Cell (vol. 6, issue 3, 2010), was led by Vernica Martnez-Cerdeo, PhD, at the time a postdoctoral fellow in the Kriegstein lab, and was a collaboration involving Arturo Alvarez-Buylla, PhD, UCSF Heather and Melanie Muss Professor of Neurological Surgery and Krys Bankiewicz, MD, PhD, UCSF professor of neurological surgery.
The approach used by the team differs from another cell-based strategy for Parkinson's disease currently being explored by other research teams. This traditional transplantation strategy involves attempting to replace the dopamine-producing cells that are lost in the disease, by grafting precursors for these cells directly in the striatum. The loss of these cells is thought to account for most of the disease's symptoms -- motor deficits, cognitive and autonomic dysfunction and disturbances in mood.
This traditional strategy has shown severe drawbacks, including that the grafted dopaminergic cells show little, if any, dispersion when grafted into the striatum, and that patients have developed disabling spontaneous movements in preliminary trials, prompting early suspension of the trials.
The ability to modify the neural circuitry of the striatum, part of a larger region known as the basal ganglia, is a function only cells can perform, says Kriegstein. The nervous system is a complex system of neural networks composed of highly individualized cells that relay electrochemical signals between regions of the brain and spinal cord at millisecond speeds, accounting for every behavior, emotion, and thought. "Each cell has its own role to play based on the circuits in which it is embedded," he says. "It has to carry out its role at exactly the right time, with exactly the right partners, and the activity pattern changes moment by moment.
"Once MGE cells were integrated
|Contact: Jennifer O'Brien|
University of California - San Francisco