Stem Cell Transplantation: A Promising Therapy for Parkinson’s Disease
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Parkinson’s disease is one of the most common neurodegenerative diseases caused by the loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta. Pharmacological therapies are valuable but suffer from two main drawbacks: side effects and loss of efficacy with disease progression. Surgical treatment is no better than drugs. Transplantation of embryonic mesencephalic tissue has emerged as a therapeutic alternative, but the unstable efficiency and the shortage of embryonic donors limit its clinical application. Recent advances in stem cell research inspire our hope that stem cell transplantation to replace degenerated neurons may be a promising therapy for Parkinson’s disease. There are three sources of stem cells currently in testing: embryonic stem cells, neural stem cells, and mesenchymal stem cells. The stem cell transplantation in the animal model of Parkinson’s disease proves that it is capable of relieving symptoms and restoring damaged brain function. Future stem cell research should focus not only on ameliorating the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease but also on neuroprotection or neurorescue that can favorably modify the natural course and slow the progression of the disease.