Cell reprogramming approaches in gene- and cell-based therapies for Parkinson's disease

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Abstract

Degeneration of dopamine (DA) neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta is the pathological hallmark of Parkinson's disease (PD). In PD multiple pathogenic mechanisms initiate and drive this neurodegenerative process, making the development of effective treatments challenging. To date, PD patients are primarily treated with dopaminergic drugs able to temporarily enhance DA levels, therefore relieving motor symptoms. However, the drawbacks of these therapies including the inability to alter disease progression are constantly supporting the search for alternative treatment approaches. Over the past years efforts have been put into the development of new therapeutic strategies based on the delivery of therapeutic genes using viral vectors or transplantation of DA neurons for cell-based DA replacement. Here, past achievements and recent advances in gene- and cell-based therapies for PD are outlined. We discuss how current gene and cell therapy strategies hold great promise for the treatment of PD and how the use of stem cells and recent developments in cellular reprogramming could contribute to open a new avenue in PD therapy.

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