Implanting dopamine generators (dopaminergics) in brain cells has produced improvement in the symptoms in Parkinson's, according to the results of tests carried out with monkeys by the Navarra University Hospital, led by Dr Mara Rosario Luquin Piudo, neurologist at the Hospital and at the other Navarra University-based medical centre, CIMA (the Research Centre for Applied Medicine).
The results have been published in the latest issue of the British scientific journal specialising in Neurology, Brain, and have corroborated the conclusions of a previous study, published in 1999 by the same research team in the specialist journal, Neuron. The first name amongst the contributors is that of the researcher Waldy San Sebastin.
On this occasion the research was extended to a greater number of non- human primates and for a longer period of time. The procedure involved implanting cell fragments extracted from the carotid body in the striate area of the brain. The carotid body is a small structure located at the bifurcation of the carotid artery, at the level of the neck. Its function is to control the rhythm of respiration and the cardiac frequency through releasing dopamine in situations of low oxygen level in the blood. After the implantation of the cellular aggregates of the carotid body into the striate area of the brain, the improvement in movement in monkeys with Parkinson's and which had received transplants was demonstrated to last for at least a year.
The research team concluded that the mechanism by which the implants in the striate area of the brain of dopamine-generating cells manage to ameliorate Parkinson's appears to be related to the capacity of these cells to release substances (trophic factors) that induce an increase of the dopaminergic cells (that usually exist in the normal brain but in lower quantities). Amongst these trophic factors is the GNDF (Glial Cell-derived Neurotrophic Factor).