Fetal Neural Transplantation in the Treatment of Parkinson's and Huntington

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Two Diseases, One Hope: Fetal Neural Transplantation in the Treatment of Parkinson's and Huntington's Disease

Parkinson's Disease (PD) and Huntington's Disease (HD) are neurodegenerative diseases that are caused by malfunctions within the motor sector of the nervous system. These malfunctions, which are caused either by the surplus (as in HD) or absence (as in PD) of hormones, are a direct result of neural cell deterioration within the brain. PD and HD illustrate two very different behavioral patterns that are subsequently caused by two opposite and extreme biological abnormalities. Yet the common thread between the two conditions is that there are major mechanical predicaments arising between cellular connections within the brain.
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Information from the nigra cells passes through the synapses with the aid of a specific hormone, dopamine, which is a significant chemical transmitter in the brain. Because the existence of dopamine is essential to the function of the substania nigra, it is also essential for the various muscular activities controlled by the striatum, such as walking, balance, etc. (16).

In Parkinson's Disease and Huntington's disease the nigra-striatum neural communication assemblage is severely hampered. PD results from a depletion in the amount of dopamine produced by the brain. At the onset of the disease, dopamine-secreting cells of the substania nigra, either because of genetic factors or environmental toxins, experience mass cell death. Thus, the nigra cells are unable to form synapses through which they secrete and relay dopamine to the striatum in a neural circuit within the basal ganglia (18).

HD, in contrast, is not a condition offset by the environment, as PD is thought to be. It is indeed a condition due to cell death in the brain (basal ganglia) but is caused by an abnormal gene that codes for a mutant protein called huntingtin. Huntingtin, thus, interferes with normal brain cell functions by causing a depletion in neural cellular energy and neural death (12)(9).

Another example of how HD can be described as being the opposite condition to PD, has to do with both behavioral and biological symptoms of the neurodegenerative

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