Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder of the central nervous system that strikes people at the rate of approximately 1.6 per 100 persons over 65 years of age. It is estimated that over half a million people in the United States and over 4 million people worldwide suffer from Parkinson’s disease, and the global figure is expected to rise to nearly 9 million by the year 2030, according to estimates by the Parkinson’s Foundation and by the World Health Organization. Although this debilitating disease is currently considered to be irreversible and a fully effective conventional medical treatment does not exist, researchers in France have now demonstrated the power of adult stem cells to halt and reverse the progression of this disease.
Mesenchymal stem cells derived from the bone marrow of adult rats were used to treat these rats for symptoms of Parkinson’s diease. Significant improvements were measured at various intervals, with a 50% decrease in symptoms being measured as early as one week after treatment with the bone marrow-derived stem cells. Not only were behavioral symptoms restored to normal in the rats, but new neurological dopaminergic (dopamine producing) tissue was actually regenerated which dramatically corrected the characteristic absence of dopamine that typifies the brains of individuals afflicted with Parkinson’s disease.
According to the researchers of this study, treatment with adult mesenchymal stem cells “reduces behavioral effects” and “partially restores the dopaminergic markers and vesicular striatal pool of dopamine” in the rats, therefore leading the authors of the study to conclude that, “This cellular approach might be a restorative therapy in Parkinson’s disease.”