Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in the Substantia Nigra - a tiny but crucial area in the brain used to relay messages for movement to the rest of the body. In Parkinson’s Disease, the cells in the Substantia Nigra degenerate and die, and the patient exhibits the classic “TRAP” symptoms of Tremor (limb trembling), Rigidity (muscle stiffness), Akinesia (Lack of movement), and Postural instability.
Treatment for Parkinson’s is symptomatic, and usually involves rehabilitative physiotherapy as well as taking an oral dopamine precursor called levadopa, which unfortunately has many side effects. Where symptoms persist, surgery on the brain may be required to relieve symptoms.
Cord Lining Stem Cells was successfully differentiated into neurons by our collaborating research group led by Dr Gerald Udolph at the Centre for Molecular Medicine, Singapore. These differentiated neurons have been further coaxed to produce Dopamine, the neurotransmitter lacking in Parkinson’s disease.
It is our aim in the future to be able to transplant these dopamine-producing cells into the body to treat this disabling disease.
In 2015, our collaborators A/Prof Lim Kah Leong and Dr Chai Chou at the National Neuroscience Institute in Singapore announced that they had converted Cord Lining Stem Cells into Cord Lining Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (CLiPS) and successfully generated Dopamine producing cells. These cells were implanted in Parkinson’s mice and effectively alleviated signs of the disease. The use of CLiPS technology also allows for the generation of heart muscle cells (cardiomyocytes) and liver cells (hepatocytes). The National Neuroscience Institute has since signed a Memorandum Of Understanding with the National University of Singapore to accelerate research and translation into human therapy.
CellResearch Corporation is justifiably proud that Cord Lining Stem Cells were used as the source cells in this ground breaking technology!