Human trials start next year for a possible Parkinson’s cure. Stem cell biologist Lorenz Studer won a MacArthur Fellowship for his breakthrough work in replacing dopamine-generating cells. His innovative and successful transplants of multifunctional pluripotent cells into rats and monkeys showed remarkable results in long-term studies.
According to an article about Studer’s work by Taylor Mayol, “Studer, who runs his own lab at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Center, explains his complex work simply: He trains cells like dogs into acting differently.”
Studer’s work also offers hope for solving the mysteries of other neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. It may also lead to other manipulations, such as regrowing intestines, or to predicting the future by taking a cell from someone and aging it to see what might happen over the years. Although the process has risks and complications, Studer’s wife, neurosurgeon Viviane Studer—whom he met working in a lab—will stand by him all the way, literally, as she performs the operations to implant those new, improved cells when human trials start.