Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder that causes uncontrollable or unintended movements, such as stiffness, shaking and difficulty with coordination and balance. The disorder’s symptoms worsen over time as the disease progresses, with patients finding it difficult to even talk and walk when the disease is in its advanced stages. Estimates show that almost one million individuals in America suffer from Parkinson’s disease.
New research has identified the brain cells susceptible to Parkinson’s disease, and this could help scientists have a better understanding of how this debilitating illness takes hold and perhaps identify ways to prevent its progression.
Researchers have known that the disease’s symptoms were caused by nerve cell death in the substantia nigra. Neurons in this brain region usually produce dopamine, which is involved in cognitive executive function as well as movement control.
For their study, the researchers conducted an analysis of cell nuclei extracted from the dopamine-making neurons found in the substantia nigra. To do so, they first had to devise a way to sort through more than 15,000 nuclei from brains of patients with this indication. A researcher at the laboratory, Abdulraouf Abdulraouf, developed a way to do so, allowing the researchers to sort these cells and classify them into 10 groups. Each of these groups was defined by specific combinations of active genes and a certain brain location.
When they examined substantia nigra neurons in the brains of individuals who had succumbed to Parkinson’s disease, the researchers discovered that one of these cell types was significantly low in volume. The researchers found that the missing cells were identified by an active AGTR1 gene and their location in the substantia nigra.
The study’s author, Evan Macosko, noted that while researchers weren’t certain whether the gene played a role in the fate of these dopamine-making cells, the gene did serve as a reliable way to identify these cells. This finding may help researchers discover new ways to counter this devastating illness. They theorize that replacing the drastically diminished neurons, which manufacture dopamine in the brains of individuals with Parkinson’s, may help counter the disease.
Macosko, who is a neuroscientist at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, noted that stem cell researchers have expressed their interest in developing these particular cells.
This study involved a small number of brains. The researchers plan to study more brains in the future, with the hope that it will lead to the discovery of more useful information.
The research’s findings were published in “Nature Neuroscience.”
Some companies, such as Silo Pharma Inc. (OTCQB: SILO), are looking to merge traditional ways of managing Parkinson’s with new therapeutics derived from psychedelic substances, supsilocybin. Patients can therefore look forward to these treatments once they become available.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Silo Pharma Inc. (OTCQB: SILO) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://ibn.fm/SILO
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