Parkinson’s disease

Can Parkinson’s disease be reversed? Can everything go back to its Normalcy?

Medical & Health News

Can Parkinson’s disease be reversed? Can everything go back to its Normalcy?

The answer might be a big YES in the near future.

Top in Trends: Regenerative Medicine

We do replace a lot of things in our lives, don’t we?

Our shoes get worn out often, and our feet feel cold, then we simply switch to a new pair of shoes to comfy our foot. We do change our car tyres occasionally to restore full functionality.

Parkinson’s disease
Parkinson’s disease

Have you ever wondered if we could do the same in the human body? What if I tell you that there is a branch of science that exactly does the same?

That is what precisely this article is about, to keep you in the loop about the branch of medicine that deals with replacing those damaged human parts and its advancements.

The branch of medicine that we are referring to is Regenerative Medicine, which is a revolution in the history of Medicine with its endless capabilities and applications.

There has been a lot of buzz about Parkinson’s disease, which progressively degenerates the brain and hinders its performance as there is no cure but only mitigation and symptomatic treatment.


Parkinson’s disease
Parkinson’s disease

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects the person’s dopamine-producing aka the system that deals with dopamine levels (“dopaminergic neurons”) neurons (brain cells) predominantly in a specific area of the brain called substantia nigra marked by motor deficits and tremors.

To put it merely without medical jargon, it is a loss of neurons that are responsible for the secretion of Dopamine, a chemical that helps maintain the balance in the brain and the body.

All these days, we do not have an exact cure as neurons cannot divide, and hence there will not be any healthy neurons that replace the damaged neurons.

Interesting Statistic:

Symptoms such as tremor or shaking, muscular stiffness or rigidity, slowness of movement and difficulty with balance appear when about 80 percent of cells in the body that produce the neurochemical dopamine die or become impaired.

Review: Reversing a model of Parkinson’s disease within situ converted nigral neurons

A recent study published in Nature journal has exactly done what we have talked about regenerative medicine. They did convert the supporting cells of the brain, the astrocytes in mice to Neurons in substantia nigra and published the study and series of events in the paper.

Let’s take a more in-depth look at the summary of the study now.

The recent advancements in science showed that the differentiation of the neurons could be achieved by the RNA-binding protein PTB and its neuronal analogue nPTB in controlling neuronal induction and maturation. Using the same markers, the researchers were able to convert the astrocytes in the mice to functioning neurons that produce dopamine and hence has reversed Parkinson’s disease without using any drugs during the pilot study in the clinical trials.


Parkinson’s disease
a Parkinson’s disease
To investigate the cascade in the conversion of astrocytes to neurons, the researchers used mouse astrocytes from the cerebral cortex and midbrain of postnatal day and human foetal cortical astrocytes from gestational week 19. These cells express the astrocyte markers GFAP and ALDH1L1, but not markers for neurons and other common non-neuronal cell types in the brain, Similar to fibroblasts, analysis by quantitative PCR with reverse transcription (RT–qPCR) showed low levels of miR-124 in the mouse and human astrocytes. Unexpectedly, both miR-9 and BRN2 were highly expressed in astrocytes. They further confirmed these expression patterns in endogenous astrocytes and neurons.An interesting note that has to be observed is that the expression of REST is decreased, but not eliminated, in DA neurons marked by Tyrosine Hydrolase (TH), consistent with its requirement for sustaining the viability of mature neurons in the brain.

Thus, the PTB-regulated loop in astrocytes resembles the one in fibroblasts (Fig. 1a, red box), and the nPTB-regulated loop in astrocytes resembles the one in neurons. We, therefore, proposed that nPTB induced by PTB knockdown would be immediately counteracted by miR-9 in astrocytes, as seen during neurogenesis from neural stem cells15. Indeed, unlike human dermal fibroblasts, PTB-deficient astrocytes showed transient nPTB induction. These results suggest that astrocytes can be converted to neurons by PTB knockdown alone in both mice and humans even if Early stage Parkinson is detected.

Parkinson’s disease
Parkinson’s disease


And that finding finally gave hope that this research can be taken forward.

Efficient astrocyte conversion in vitro:

The conversion efficiency was evaluated by using a virus with the concept of transduction which concluded that 50–80 % of the astrocytes have shown to the markers of neurons while the astrocyte expression is remarkably suppressed and had Dopamine Neuron-specific genes.

Generation of new neurons in mice brain:

Although many markers were present of DA neuronal maturation, which was confirmed by using a protein marked virus, till 10 weeks the matured neuronal inducers were insignificant in amount post which they have tripled their amount.

Progressive maturation of new DA neurons:

Post 3–12 weeks after the injection into the midbrain of the mice there is a significant appearance of 35–50% of the cells which can be called DA neurons.

­­­­­The researchers also found that new neural pathways were also developed, and the amount of Dopamine has increased in the brain’s substantia nigra when they had tested with Parkinson’s model of mice. Thus, reversing the deadly progressive Parkinson’s disease which is a leading movement disorder.

Hope the same holds true in humans and possibly this forms the basement for treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

Keep checking on us for more curated and handpicked science and health articles.


Reversing a model of Parkinson’s disease with in situ converted nigral neurons

Image Credits are with respective owners and the images were taken from Google for representation purpose only.


Gopala Krishna Varshith,

Content Developer and Editor,