Researchers at the Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research on the Parnassus Campus of the University of California San Francisco have just published the results of two related studies involving differentiated brain cells transplanted into mice. In one case, the cells were human brain cells integrated successfully into a mouse brain; in the other, epileptic mice were cured with specialized mouse brain cells. In both studies the differentiated cells were a type of interneuron progenitor called medial ganglionic eminence (MGE) cells. Unlike other brain stem cells that can turn into any number of specialized cells, these differentiated MGE cells have a specific function, which is to inhibit signaling in overactive nerve circuits. These experiments hold promise for future treatment of neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, and the chronic pain and spasticity caused by spinal cord injury.
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The Parkinson's Disease Biomarkers Program (PDBP) is a recently-formed NIH initiative to advance research into biomarkers for the disease in order to better understand its progress and develop treatments. Some funded projects will focus on statistical analysis tools and data sharing among researchers. Others will examine early clinical manifestations of PD in patients. Still more will involve lab studies, including identification of genetic biomarkers as well as antibodies in the blood and changes in body chemistry. All projects "must inform the etiology, pathogenesis or treatment of PD," according to grant program guidelines. Research supported by the PDBP is being carried out at the 11 Morris K. Udall Centers of Excellence in Parkinson's Disease Research (logo right), directed by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) within the NIH.
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