Reprogramming Your Body’s Skin Cells to Fight Parkinson’s Disease

What if you could use skin cells from your body to replace the brain cells lost with Parkinson’s disease and reverse your symptoms?  This successful experiment occurred with a Parkinson’s patient at McLean Hospital in Boston. The next step is clinical trials.  

A team of doctors took skin cells from a 69-year-old patient and reprogrammed those cells to take on the brain cells’ characteristics lost during Parkinson’s progression. The doctors then transplanted the cells into the patient’s brain.  In this study, what stands out is that the patient’s immune system recognized the cells and didn’t reject them. There were no side effects, and the cells didn’t develop any unwanted growth of tumors. 

Two years later, the patient is once again tying his shoes and walking with an improved stride. Old hobbies like swimming and skiing are back on his agenda.  While the results are encouraging, only one patient was in the study. The researchers are looking forward to replicating the results in clinical trials.  If you are one of the millions of people who have Parkinson’s disease, this ‘personalized medicine’ approach of using one’s cells to reverse a condition is exciting news. Let’s stay tuned for developments.