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New breakthrough to speed up stem cell production

Nerve cell grown from human skin

Researchers based in Japan have successfully made stem cells by simply dipping blood cells in acid.

This technique may, one day, provide a faster and cheaper means for growing healthy new nerve cells.

This new breakthrough has been covered on BBC News and The Guardian

This exciting development could hugely speed up the process by which researchers make stem cells which could speed up research into many conditions, including Parkinson's.

What are stem cells?

Stem cells are 'unspecialised' cells which can turn into almost any cell in the body. They are found naturally in early embryos, foetuses, umbilical cords and some adult tissues.

Currently turning adult cells into stem cells is a complex and time consuming process involving many different chemicals.

Research is now underway to achieve the same result using human blood cells.

What does this mean for people with Parkinson's?

Stem cells have great potential in Parkinson's research as they can be programmed to develop into new dopamine producing nerve cells.

Stem cells have great potential in Parkinson's research.

Researchers hope in the future these cells may be used to replace the nerve cells lost in people with Parkinson's.

Hannah Churchill, Research Communications Officer, comments:

"The idea that simply dipping blood cells in acid can generate stem cells could not only speed up Parkinson's research but also make the process cheaper and safer.

"This technique may, one day, provide a faster and cheaper means for growing healthy new nerve cells to replace those lost in the Parkinson's brain – although there is a huge amount of further research needed before we'll know if this is possible."

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