At Children's Hospital Boston, stem cell scientist George Q. Daley, MD, PhD, led his team in creating 10 lines of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells), which are mature body cells reprogrammed to look and function like embryonic stem cells, with the potential to develop into any cell type.
The team created each of these iPS lines by taking cells from patients afflicted with a number of diseases, including Parkinson disease. Studying these iPS cells in the lab will give scientists a chance to see how these patients’ respective diseases develop, and how the diseases can be treated.
In addition to disease modeling, other researchers are interested in turning embryonic stem cells or neural stem cells from the nervous system into dopaminergic nerve cells for transplantation. Alternatively, scientists can turn these stem cells into inhibitory nerve cells that would compensate for the lack of dopamine that causes Parkinson disease.