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Therapeutic Cloning Works in Mice With Parkinson's
Date:3/24/2008

Injecting neurons that were genetic match improved symptoms, avoided rejection

MONDAY, March 24 (HealthDay News) -- Therapeutic cloning successfully treated Parkinson's disease in mice, researchers report.

Using the process to develop dopamine-producing neurons with an identical genetic profile to each mouse being treated allowed scientists to significantly improve the neurological performance of the diseased animals, without provoking any evidence of immune system rejection.

"This is the first time that anyone has done this kind of cloning experiment to show the therapeutic aspect of the process in this customized way," said study author Dr. Viviane Tabar, an associate professor of neurosurgery in the department of neurosurgery at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

The finding -- which has not yet been replicated in human trials -- was published in the March 23 online issue of Nature Medicine.

Parkinson's is a neurodegenerative disorder that severely impairs motor skills and speech. According to the National Parkinson Foundation, 1.5 million Americans suffer from the disease, and men and women over 65 are at the greatest risk of developing the debilitating condition.

The illness is sparked by the breakdown of nerve cells in the brain and a resulting drop in the production of the dopamine -- a chemical key to the proper function of muscles and movement. In recent years, the effort to slow or halt dopamine loss has focused on the promise of therapeutic cloning.

Controversy over the ethical ramifications of cloning has led many researchers to draw a clear distinction between therapeutic cloning and reproductive cloning.

Both processes begin with the removal of the nucleus from a single cell taken from any part of the body of a living adult organism. In the laboratory, this isolated nucleus is then inserted into an egg cell that has been stripped
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