So, It’s Only a Rat

July 5th, 2006

Cool study published in the Journal of Neuroscience… scientists have used a drug that stimulates D3 Dopamine receptors in the brain to produce neurogenesis (that’s new cell BIRTH!) in the substantia nigra of rats with Parkinson’s-like disease. The new cells went on to make functional connections to other areas of the brain and allow the rats to regain abilities that they had lost due to their disease. The study suggests that drugs currently used to treat Parkinson’s in humans could possibly be manipulated to result in a similar effect in humans. If true, it would do away with the need for invasive implantation of embryonic stem cells as a treatment because the drugs would stimulate endogenous stem cells (those lying dormant in the brain) to jump into action. This then would probably reduce patients’ reliance on drugs like L-DOPA, which lose the efficacy over time. The researchers are looking for similar drug effects in other neurodegenerative dieases, like Alzheimers, as well.

It’s exciting to think that one day we may be able to reverse degenerative diseases by simply stimulating the appropriate receptor, and letting the body do the rest of the work naturally.

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