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When following stem cell research and you will find yourself inundated with controversial claims and questions of ethics, all which tend to overshadow the positive advancements stem cell research has made in treatments for Parkinson’s Disease.
Parkinson’s Disease develops slowly as a response to damaged dopamine-producing cells, slowing motor functions and causing patients to live a life of debilitating tremors, stiffness, and possibly even mood changes and sleep disorders. The process of treating Parkinson’s has been an uphill battle, with the most effective drug treatments being temporary and accompanied by a range of further enervating side effects. Prolonged treatment of even the most effective drugs can even lead to further complications and ineffectiveness.
As opposed to drug treatments, stem cell treatment of Parkinson’s doesn’t aim to simply artificially create dopamine, which could then filter into the bloodstream rather than target the brain. Through a process that involves growing new stem cells from cells extracted from the patient, researchers can replace damaged cells with the newly grown stem cells. Progress has been made in recreating the necessary dopamine-producing cells, which, as research continues making headway, can provide two vital benefits.
The first continues down the path of researching and developing increasingly effective drug treatments. The developed cells provided Parkinson’s researchers the opportunity to better screen drugs before testing them on live patients. Before Parkinson’s stem cell research, the most common method of drug development utilized animal models, leaving unanswered questions about how treatment methods would ultimately affect human patients.
Additionally, the development of dopamine-producing cells through stem cell research opens the future possibility of replacing damaged cells in patients and creating a possible cure for an otherwise incurable disease. The successes of stem cell treatment options for Parkinson’s Disease have proven an invaluable option that’s well on its way of replacing current insufficient drug treatments.
With every positive step forward in stem cell research, an optimistic outlook for the future of patients with Parkinson’s disease is more of a reality.