Transplantation of Neural Stem Cells into a Rat Model of Parkinson’s Disease


Ming Yang, M.D., Ph.D.
Thomas Jefferson University, Pennsylvania


Dr. Ming Yang (Thomas Jefferson University Medical College, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) will attempt to identify the factors responsible for the benefits seen when neural stem cells are implanted into parkinsonian rats. The group will also try to learn what other neurotransmitters may be produced by the neurons in the grafted tissue and what their effects may be on the host brains.

Progress Report (as of 3/2003)

Mr. Ming Yang (Thomas Jefferson University) and her Philadelphia colleagues, in collaboration with Dr. Evan Snyder of Harvard (who does pioneering stem cell work) have two publications, one still in press, describing the data derived from their grant. They have shown that, in rats, the adult brain even when damaged by 6-OHDA (an experimental neurotoxin), retains the ability to direct transplanted stem cells to become dopamine-producing neurons, provided the cells have been properly pretreated in vitro (culture) and then correctly placed near the area of the brain injury (in vitro). It is not entirely known what these specific cues might be: glial cells, growth factor(s) or other brain compounds. It is also possible that agents are created when injury to the blood-brain barrier occurs. Their studies continue in the hope of elucidating these cues as well as learning long-term results in the animals and, once the conditions/factors are identified, providing the basis for using stem cells in the treatment of human disease.