Aug. 19, 2003 University of Minnesota researchers show that adult bone marrow stem cells can be induced to differentiate into cells of the midbrain. The findings, published in the online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest that adult bone-marrow-derived stem cells may one day be useful for treating diseases of the central nervous system, including Parkinson's disease.
The potential of these adult stem cells, termed multipotent adult progenitor cells (MAPCs), were the subject of research reported in Nature in June 2002. Today's published research findings show specific cell differentiation for a specific goal. While this type of cell differentiation has been shown to occur from embryonic and neural stem cells, this is the first time adult bone-marrow-derived cells have been shown to generate dopamine like neurons.
"We're able to show in vitro generation of functional dopamine producing cells from adult bone marrow stem cells needed for therapy of Parkinson's," said lead investigator Catherine Verfaillie, M.D., director of the university's Stem Cell Institute. "This further proves similarity of the MAPCs with embryonic stem cells.
"Again, while adult stem cells hold great promise, side by side comparison of adult and embryonic stem cells must be done to determine which stem cells are most useful in treating a particular disease," said Verfaillie.
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