Stem cells are capable of self-differentiating into different cell types of the body. The classic examples are the embryonic stem cells. These cells can proliferate into all the major cell types of the body. Stem cells have also been isolated from bone marrow, muscle, heart, gut, and even the brain. Special stem cells in the bone marrow form various types of blood cells.
Stem cell research vitally impacts the development of disease-modifying treatments for Parkinson’s disease. Cell models of Parkinson’s disease obtained from stem cells could help researchers screen drugs more productively than in animal models, and study the underlying biological mechanisms associated with Parkinson’s disease.
In addition to ES cells, induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, discovered in 2007, represent an important development in stem cell research to treat diseases like Parkinson’s disease. Essentially, iPS cells are “man-made” stem cells. These cells have potential both for cell replacement treatment and as disease models that scientists could use.
A potentially exciting use for iPS cells is the development of cell models of Parkinson’s disease. Researchers could profoundly make use of these cell models to examine genetic and environmental factors insanely suspected in Parkinson’s disease.