Could people with Parkinson’s disease benefit from a new hydrogel?


Author: Johanna Stiefler JohnsonPublished: 12 August 2021

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Scientists in Australia have developed a potential treatment for Parkinson’s disease in the form of a hydrogel – a water-containing gel made from amino-acids.

Clinical evidence suggests that transplanted stem cells may effectively address the loss of dopamine characteristic of Parkinson’s. To investigate this, researchers designed a hydrogel which acts as a vehicle to safely transport replacement stem cells into the brain.

“When we shake or apply energy to the hydrogel,” explains study co-author Professor David Nisbet, “the substance turns into an injectable liquid. Once inside the brain, the gel returns to its solid form and provides support for the stem cells to replace lost dopamine neurons.” The stem cells may also protect existing cells in the surrounding tissue.

When tested on animal models of Parkinson’s, the hydrogel prompted “huge improvement” in coordinated movement and motor function recovery. While human clinical trials are necessary, the hydrogel may soon offer feasible treatments.

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