By Tim Kopatich, CEO Cellebration Wellness
According to a recent article in Bioinformant by Cade Hildreth, neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease are caused by progressive damage to cells of the nervous system. Patients suffering from these debilitating disorders lose their mobility, balance, speech, and so many other important functions. Scientists studying these disorders need advanced cell models that have the physiological and pharmacological properties seen in mature neurons.
Human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) with their extensive differentiation potential are valuable tools for understanding the pathology of neurodegenerative disorders. Neuronal cells that are derived from iPSCs have the required physiological properties seen in mature neurons from the human brain. Rodent-derived models can’t quite do that, and human tissue is mainly available post-mortem. Researchers can use iPSCs to explore neurite length and cell health, drug induced effects on morphology, neuronal activity, among other questions.
Cells of the immune system, like glial cells, also regulate neuronal networks and can play a role in the development of neurodegenerative disorders. Microglia, for example, are the primary immune cells of the nervous system. These macrophage-like cells are the front line of defense against injury or infection in the central nervous system. Neuroinflammation is the distress signal that activates microglia, which then phagocytose unhealthy neurons. Prolonged activation of microglia, however, is harmful to neuronal networks and is linked to neurodegeneration.
Our Chairman and Chief Science Officer Dr. Anand Srivastava has seen significant results from stem cell therapies for patients suffering from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.