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Parkinson's Disease: The Stem Cell Approach

2379 words - 10 pages

Michael J. Fox has been recognized for many great accomplishments having to do with his career as an actor. Throughout his career he played numerous roles in many films and television shows. His success has been recognized through his portrayal of characters such as Marty McFly from the Back to the Future trilogy and Alex P. Keaton from the once popular television show, “Family Ties.” However, at barely thirty years old, Fox was diagnosed with young-onset Parkinson’s disease (Michael’s Story). Such a young man contracting a restrictive disease so early on in his life is nothing short of life changing.
Parkinson’s disease is a disease that targets and kills the cells responsible for producing dopamine, a chemical involved in sending messages to the brain in order for the body to move. As the disease progresses, it becomes progressively harder for patients to control their movements. Often times those with the disease begin to develop tremors and their bodies become more rigid. Some even lose their sense of smell and others have been known to have sleep disorders, depression, and other issues as the disease progresses. Even though this disease has been around for a long time, a cause is yet to be found. However, since scientists and researchers have pinpointed the areas of the body effected by this disease. Because of this, a potential solution that has come up has been to use stem cells to replace the infected cells with new, healthy duplicates by means of cell transplantation. Another way that stem cells could help in the treatment of Parkinson’s is by using them as a means to study the causes of the disease. Also by creating diseased neurons in a lab setting, scientists can test out new medicines before administering them to human test subjects (Parkinson’s disease).
Seven years after the diagnosis, Fox decided to become an advocate for more research of Parkinson’s disease. He and his foundation currently help to fund research for the disease, specifically in the area of stem cell research because of its remarkable potential for treating the disease (Stem Cells).
Currently, Parkinson’s is treated with methods that only temporarily relieve the symptoms of the disease, but ultimately do nothing in the area of slowing down or reversing its effects. The main drug used in these treatments is Levodopa which acts as a stand in for the dopamine cells that are killed by the disease (Parkinson’s disease).
Regrettably, one of the main reasons that more people with diseases such as cerebral palsy, leukemia, Parkinson’s or lymphoma are not treated with stem cells is because of the fact that the amount of research that has been done with them is not extensive enough to be condoned as a viable treatment for many of the ailments and diseases that many people must currently suffer through. Yet, if any progress is expected to be made, there must be more funding for the research in more than just the private sector of America. In order for stem cell research to...

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