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Home »Sci-Tech » Pig brain cells can help with Parkinson’s disease



We might not think of implanting pig brain cells into our brain. However, in the hope of stopping the disease from growing, patients of Parkinson’s disease did it.

Living Cell Technologies, a biotech company of New Zealand, made use of choroid plexus cells from pigs and created a cure for Parkinson’s disease. These particular cells are present in the part of brain that produces a mix of signaling molecules and growth factors to keep nerve cells healthy thus, the researchers transplanted the healthy cells from the pig donors in four human subjects.

18 months after the surgery, subjects showed promising results enabling the researchers to initiate a placebo-controlled trail further in 18 more patients back in May.

Parkinson’s disease is a result of progressive loss in the dopamine-making brain cells, which are responsible for controlling movements in the body and with time it gets worse. The treatment’s objective is to nurture the brain cells already present in recipients for cutting down or preventing more loss. So far, the treatment proved to be successful in rats with species-specific corollary of Parkinson’s disease.

Ken Taylor of the biotech company informed New Scientist, “It’s putting in a little neurochemical factory to promote new nerve cell growth and repair.”

The pig cells are placed in a porous coating of alginate which is made using seaweed and allows growth factors to move in surrounding brain tissue however, stopping patients’ immune cells from entering to attack pig cells. The technique is also being used in people with diabetes where they are implanted with pig pancreas cells.

The alginate capsule is almost half millimeter wide and has almost thousand pig cells in it. In the initial trial conducted on four people, 40 capsules were put in one part of the brain.

The particular concern of this act was that the four patients showed instant improvements that sustained for longer period (18 months) and generally, nerve cells do not physically respond and regrow that fast. The results that are due in November of the placebo-controlled trial could shed more light on this subject, informed Futurism.

If the treatment proves to be effective after seeing the placebo-controlled results, the treatment may be extended to test other neurological disorders like Huntington’s and Alzheimer’s.

Other researches like taking dopamine-producing brain cells from aborted fetuses, or turning adult stem cell into dopamine-producing brain cells, have also proved to be successful.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2017

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