Conversion of Human Adult Bone Marrow Stem Cells into Dopamine Neurons



Walter C. Low, Ph.D.
University of Minnesota, Minnesota


Dr. Walter C. Low and his research team at the University of Minnesota (Minneapolis) have isolated a stem cell population from human adult bone marrow that can differentiate into neurons in culture. They hypothesize that with appropriate stimulation (using trophic factors), they can produce dopaminergic neurons from these stem cells that could replace fetal tissue as a source for replacement cells in diseased brains such as those with PD. Again, while not a prospective cure, such replacements might be said to slow or reverse the underlying disease state; i.e., moving a (Hoehn & Yahr) stage-four patient back to stage two.

Progress Report (as of 3/2003)

In the highly productive stem-cell-study atmosphere at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Walter C. Low has isolated a stem-cell population from human adult bone marrow that is capable of differentiating into brain cells in culture. These multipotent adult progenitor cells (MAPCs) might be coerced into becoming dopaminergic neurons that could be used as replacement cells in PD patients. Once cultured, the cells expressed first a marker for neural stem cells, then a transcription factor for dopaminertgic neurons, and finally, tyrosine hydroxylase, the enzyme used as a marker for such neurons. The group then transplanted the cells into parkinsonian rats that are now being studied. The results from this grant have also been used as preliminary data for an NIH grant application, arguably the best usage of foundation fundting.

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