In a recent Stanford study, neurons were derived from the skin of a woman with a genetic form of Parkinson's disease and shown to replicate some key features of the condition in a dish. Over the weekend, San Jose Mercury News' Lisa Krieger wrote about the work, and the patient - Genia Brin, the mother of Google co-founder Sergey Brin - who helped make it possible:
"I'm impressed, almost proud," said Brin, 62, of Los Altos Hills, who donated a dime-sized sample of skin cells, excised from her upper arm, which were taken to the Stanford lab and reprogrammed, using stem cell techniques, and turned into neurons, or brain cells. "It is a bad disease and its biological basis is little understood. Research has been pretty slow.
"I was hoping they would learn something from it," Brin said, "and they did."
Krieger also discussed the implications of the study, which was led by Renee Reijo Pera, PhD, and appears in the journal Cell Stem Cell. The work will allow researchers, "for the first time in medical history, to study the diseased cells and test compounds that might slow or even prevent their development."