Remote control of transplanted cells in Parkinson's
Cell-replacement therapies, including stem cell transplant, give hope to patients suffering from neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's. An EU-funded project aims to improve the outcome of such therapies, using magnetic manipulation of cells at the site of transplantation.
© vegefox.com #140962069, 2019 source:stock.adobe.com
Neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinsons disease are a major public health issue, especially given the ageing population in Europe and beyond. Parkinsons now affects more than 1 900 people per 100 000 among those aged 80 and older.
While a permanent cure for Parkinsons and similar neurological diseases is not yet in sight, cell-replacement therapies (CTs) are considered very promising, particularly with the advent of specialised stem-cell technologies. Human stem cells come from a variety of sources and have the potential to become different cell types, including healthy nerve cells.
A fundamental challenge for CTs remains the inability of doctors to control the behaviour of transplanted cells, particularly cell differentiation and directional growth. The aim of the EU-funded MAGNEURON project is to develop a new technique enabling the remote control of these and other cellular functions by means of magnetic manipulation.
The new technique involves the integration of tiny magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) into proteins that affect cellular activity. These so-called bio-functionalised MNPs (bMNPs) are delivered into target cells which are then implanted into the patient's brain. There they can be manipulated in a controlled manner by the external application of magnetic fields.
The MAGNEURON project consortium is putting into practice cutting-edge knowledge in the highly specialised area of bMNP engineering, towards the control of neuronal cell programming and fibre outgrowth. Project researchers include renowned European experts in regenerative medicine and nanomedicine.
The result of the project is an important breakthrough a novel, versatile technique for the remote control of intracellular functions. Its successful implementation greatly advances the therapeutic potential of cell-replacement procedures for neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinsons, promising to help many, many people in Europe and around the world.