At present, stem cell therapy is one of the most promising potential treatments of Parkinson’s as it enables renewal of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra possible.
Stem cell therapy is based on cultivating stem cells and differentiating them to grow into dopamine secreting neurons which can be transplanted into the brain. Cultivating stem cells and maturing them requires additional application of growth factors which can induce turour growth after transplantation. Additionally, this method could have difficulties in growing fully matured cells resembling the brain neurons and have short life span.
The invention of nanostructures by a research team led by Professor Ken Yung Kin-lam, Professor of the Department of Biology and Dr Jeffrey Huang Zhifeng, Associate Professor of the Department of Physics at HKBU can stimulate growth of stem cells into miniature substantia nigra like stem cells (mini-SLSs).
The nanostructure or nanamatrix consist of a silica plate coated with trillions of nanozigzag structures which can initiate the growth of neural stem cells into mini-SLSs without the use of chemical growth factors.
The research team has further studied the nanomatrix in rat models of Parkinson’s where at 8 weeks rats showed improvements in motor symptoms.