Hi Drewster I hadn't seen this . Thanks for posting it . It sounds very hopeful . How are you and how's the work situation ?
Hi Drewster I had not seen this . Thanks for posting it. It sounds very hopeful. How are you and how's the job situation?
My daughter has ben accepted to a masters degree course to study stem cells, proud, and hopeful
Thats fantastic! I'd be proud too . Best wishes to her .
Does anyone in the Parkinson's UK Research team have any more background on this and could comment on this? It looks to be a very significant discovery!
This looks like an interesting discovery, but it is unlikely to be a game changer.
There are adult stem cells all over our bodies, including the liver, lung, and brain, and are there to repair our tissues and organs if they get damaged. These adult stem cells can't become any cell in the human body, like embryonic stem cells, but they can become lots of different types of cell.
Finding stem cells in the breast milk means that these cells may be easier to collect than other types of adult stem cells - but I suspect you would need a lot of breast milk to collect enough stem cells to use for a therapy.
Stem cells are an interesting area of research for Parkinson's because we know how to turn them into the dopamine producing brain cells that are lost in the condition. This means that we may be able to replace these cells in the future. We know that a therapy that relies on embryonic stem cells would not be perfect for ethicals reasons and researchers have found ways to ethically source stem cells from volunteers.
As well as knowing how to make stem cells into dopamine producing brain cells, scientists have also worked out how to turn normal cells into stem cells. Parkinson's UK funded researchers are currently using skin biopsies from participants, they take these normal, non specialised cells into stem cells and from there make dopamine producing brain cells. If skin cells from a person with Parkinson's could be used to replace the brain cells they have lost, there would be no issues with transplant rejection - something that would happen if the stem cells were collected from another person.
Researchers are working hard on making transplants for Parkinson's a reality and are aware of the ethical issues surrounding using embryonic cells. There are still a few kinks to iron out in this technology but it certainly an interesting and promising area of research.
Good luck to you daughter in her masters, Drewster!
All the best,
The Research Team