Sunday, February 6, 2011

A New Off and On Feature: More Good News for Rats

I am breathless with excitement to report a significant breakthrough in the struggle against the scourge of Parkinson's Disease. Some clever scientists managed to slip stem cells up the noses of some of those afflicted with this tenacious and destructive disorder. Stem cells migrated to the brain when put up the nose! Who woulda' thunk it? Hmmmmmm, when you do think of it, what else would you do? Hang around in the nose, or move right along to somewhere a little less full of snot and germs? Thought so. But once again, I digress. Back to the matter at hand.

I wasn't the only excited one. The editors of the Web site of Medical News Today, marked it an Editor's Choice and ran it under the headline "Promising new treatment for Parkinson's Disease" (you can find it right here) The article proclaimed
"Stem cells, delivered intranasally, were found to substantially improve motor function in Parkinson's disease in a study co-authored by William H. Frey II, Ph.D, Director of the Alzheimer's Research Center, part of HealthPartners Research Foundation. Frey collaborated with Lusine Danielyan, MD, of University Hospital of Tubingen in Germany"

But wait, there was more!... the article continued, declaring the researchers "went on to study the therapeutic impact and long-term survival of the stem cells after they reached the brain. Their new study was published today in Rejuvenation Research. Then I got to the paragraph that tempered my wild enthusiasm:

"Using a rat model of Parkinson's disease, the research demonstrated that many of the stem cells delivered intranasally survived for at least six months in the brain; that the stem cells rapidly migrated preferentially to the damaged areas of the brain; and that motor control showed significant improvement."

So break out the Champagne, you furry little rodents, once more it looks like you have the inside track on a possible meaningful advance in the treatment of PD. In rats, anyway. People are another matter. The editors of the Web site should know this, and it would have been nice if they would have made it clearer sooner that they were reporting on an preliminary stage of this interesting research that may, or very well may not, mean much to humans who have PD. But I don't want to spoil the party. Live it up, rats.


jgpicazo said...

I wonder, is it right to group to rats with the same motor dysfunctions as having Parkinson's? And who's "long term" life were these researchers making comparisons too? I don't know how long rats live, but 6 months is not long term in my life.

Peter Dunlap-Shohl said...

Great point, JG. I believe that these experiments are often conducted on subjects that have had Parkinsonian symptoms brought on all at once by exposing them to MPTP. Is this the same thing as the stealthy decades-long creep of PD into our brains?

Unfortunately none of these subtleties are dealt with in this article. I think the real story here is that the stem-cells-up-the-nose-technique shows promise, not, as the headline writer put it that they have found "Promising new treatment for Parkinson's Disease"

Robyn Levy said...

I hope those rats appreciate all this attention! Looks like we early on-set Parkinson's people will have to be patient for our turn.

Peter Dunlap-Shohl said...

Good news Robyn, "Study finds effective new technique to foster patience"... oops...never mind. Looks like that's another breakthrough for the rats.