Severance Hospital of Yonsei University announced on Jan. 21 that its research team led by neurologist Lee Pil-hyu injected human mesenchymal stem cells into lab mice suffering from Parkinson’s disease and found that their nerves were protected and behaviors were improved with the transfer and movement of alpha-synuclein, a toxic protein in the brain, suppressed.
In the experiment, the mice in the experimental group showed no exacerbation of the disease, in contrast to those in the control group. The research team explained that this was because the mesenchymal stem cells in the brain protected the nerves against the alpha-synuclein protein causing the disease.
It also found that the material of Galectin-1 that is secreted from the stem cells reacted to the NMDA receptor to suppress the intercellular transfer and movement of alpha-synuclein. The NMDA receptor is a material found in nerve cells that allows intercellular communication and controls the lives of the cells.
“At present, no drug can slow down the progress of the disease by suppressing the degeneration of the nervous system,” the professor said, adding, “However, the NMDA receptor, which is currently in use as a medicine for treating dementia and an anticonvulsant, can be developed into a drug for slowing down the natural progress of Parkinson’s disease.”
Details of the research will be available in the February online edition of the Cell Reports journal.