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The Center of Regenerative Medicine in Barcelona discovers a new path for Parkinson’s potential treatments

A study developed by researchers from Barcelona’s Center of Regenerative Medicine and California’s Gene Expression Laboratory of the Salk Institute identified a mutation in the nucleus of human neural stem cells that is linked to Parkinson’s, which may help to diagnose the disease and open a new field for targeted treatments. The prestigious journal ‘Nature’ published the study, which could also help to explain why the Parkinson’s disease is often associated with clinical depression and anxiety. The Center of Regenerative Medicine in Barcelona is directed by Juan Carlos Izpisúa, who participated in the study; it is located in the Barcelona Biomedical Research Park, next to the Hospital del Mar.

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18 October 2012 12:32 AM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- Researchers from the Center of Regenerative Medicine in Barcelona and from California\u2019s Gene Expression Laboratory of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have identified an essential mechanism of the degeneration of human neural stem cells that is linked to neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson\u2019s. The study has identified a mutation within the cell nucleus that affects its membrane architecture, which leads to its degeneration and is linked to Parkinson\u2019s disease. The study will help to improve the disease\u2019s diagnoses as well as working on developing a new type of targeted potential treatments. The study was published this Wednesday on the prestigious journal \u2018Nature\u2019, on its online edition. The research could also help to explain why the Parkinson\u2019s disease is often associated with clinical depression and anxiety. The Center of Regenerative Medicine in Barcelona (CMRB) is directed by Juan Carlos Izpisúa, who participated in the study and coordinated Barcelona\u2019s team. The CMR[B] receives from the Catalan Government, the Spanish Government, Barcelona\u2019s City Council, three Catalan universities (UB, UAB and UPF) and the Cellex private foundation. The CMR[B] is located in the Barcelona Biomedical Research Park (PRBB) , next to the Hospital del Mar and Barceloneta beaches. The PRBB is one of the leading biomedical research parks in Europe.


The study of stem cells helps explain how a gene mutation is responsible for certain disease\u2019s symptomatic signs. In addition, it also provides new insights to identify cell mechanisms which lead to motor alterations.

By reprogramming skin cells of Parkinson patients, who presented a specific gene mutation, the researchers from the CMR[B] and the Salk Institute identified that a defect in the nucleus of neural stem cells plays a key role in the development of the Parkinson\u2019s disease, although they still need to understand if it is a cause or a consequence of the disease. The results can lead to new ways to diagnose and treat the illness.

Scientists have researched the mutation in the gene producing the LRRK2 enzyme, which was associated in sporadic cases of Parkinson\u2019s disease This mutation provokes the morphology\u2019s alteration of the membrane that surrounds the nucleus of neural stem cells. This alteration leads to cell degeneration and destruction. In addition, it does not allow the cells to generate new functional neural cells, including the cells responsible for producing dopamine. The laboratory results were contrasted with brain tissue from patients with Parkinson through post-mortem analyses. They discovered the same alteration in the nucleus membrane.

\u201CThis discovery helps to explain why  Parkinson\u2019s disease, which was traditionally associated with the loss of brain cells producing dopamine and motor alterations, could present additional motor dysfunctions and other non-motor related symptoms, such as depressions and anxiety\u201D, explained Izpisúa, who directs the Center of Regenerative Medicine in Barcelona.

Even though further research is needed to confirm if the cell membrane alterations are a cause of  Parkinson\u2019s disease or a consequence, the researchers emphasise that the study can offer new insights on how to treat the disease. It offers a new perspective that can be used to potentially develop treatments targeting the alteration of this cell structure.

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  • A caption from the CMR[B] website (by CMR[B] / ACN)

  • A caption from the CMR[B] website (by CMR[B] / ACN)