Improving cell replacement therapy for Parkinson’s disease

Improving cell replacement therapy for Parkinson’s disease

New cell surface markers

August 23, 2018
American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Researchers describe a new set of cell surface markers on dopaminergic progenitor cells, which allow isolation of a more beneficial population of induced neurons for cell replacement therapy. Animals that received transplanted cells that had been selected for the new marker fared better than their counterparts with a typical transplant.
A recent article by scientists from   and their collaborators from Australia, South Korea and Wisconsin!! Improving cell replacement therapy of Parkinson disease published in Molecular & Cellular Proteomics. This new study that is covered in ScienceDaily news describes use of new cell-surface markers to isolate a homogeneous mixture of dopamine precursor cells. The protocol may improve cell replacement therapy for Parkinson’s disease. In this figure from the paper, the authors show that neurons induced from pluripotent cells that have been selected for expression of the newly described dopaminergic cell surface marker contactin 2 (top row) are more likely to express TH, an enzyme involved in dopamine production, and the dopamine transporter DAT, than unsorted cells (bottom row). Reducing the number of non-dopaminergic neurons and neural progenitors in a transplant improved recovery in a rat model and is expected to reduce side effects in patients with Parkinson’s.
Credit: Fathi et al.

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease that affects dopamine signaling neurons in patients’ brains. Cell-replacement therapy shows some promise as a treatment for Parkinson’s. A recent paper in the journal Molecular & Cellular Proteomics reports a technical advance in selecting cells to use in this therapy.

Cell-replacement therapy involves differentiating stem cells into dopamine-signaling, or dopaminergic, neurons and transplanting them into a patient’s brain to replace dying neurons. However, the variability of differentiated cells — including contamination with other neuronal cell types or residual undifferentiated stem cells — can affect transplantation outcomes. In clinical trials in the 1990s, for example, such contamination gave some patients severe dyskinesia, uncontrollable jerky movements that were worse than the movement problems caused by Parkinson’s disease.

To avoid interference by unwanted cell types, researchers need a differentiation protocol that yields a more homogeneous population of dopaminergic neurons. Researchers led by Hossein Baharvand, of Iran’s University of Science and Culture in Tehran, and Ghasem Hosseini Salekdeh , of the Academic Center for Education, Culture and Research in Iran and Macquarie University in Australia, set out to develop such a protocol.

First, the team developed a special stem cell line that contains a green fluorescent protein, or GFP, reporter for a transcription factor involved in dopaminergic neuronal development. In undifferentiated cells from this line, the fluorescent reporter is not expressed. When cells begin to make the transcription factor, the first step toward becoming a dopaminergic neuron, they also begin to make the GFP protein.

The team then used standard protocols to differentiate the cells and sorted them by GFP expression. They then identified proteins that were enriched on the surface of partially differentiated cells called dopaminergic progenitors. By selecting for one protein characteristic of dopaminergic progenitors, called contactin 2, they isolated progenitors and transplanted them into rats modeling Parkinson’s disease. Rats that received transplants with contactin 2-enriched cells had better dopamine release, indicating that the transplanted cells were a better match for the dying neurons they were meant to replace. Sorting the cells also reduced motor symptoms of Parkinson’s compared with rats treated that received unsorted cells.

The team’s isolation procedure uses may be an important step toward more successful cell-replacement therapy.

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Materials provided by American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Ali Fathi, Mehdi Mirzaei, Banafsheh Dolatyar, Mehdi Sharifitabar, Mahnaz Bayat, Ebrahim Shahbazi, Jaesuk Lee, Mohammad Javan, Su-Chun Zhang, Vivek Gupta, Bonghee Lee, Paul A. Haynes, Hossein Baharvand, Ghasem Hosseini Salekdeh. Discovery of Novel Cell Surface Markers for Purification of Embryonic Dopamine progenitors for Transplantation in Parkinson’s Disease Animal Models. Molecular & Cellular Proteomics, 2018; mcp.RA118.000809 DOI: 10.1074/mcp.RA118.000809

The 9th Royan Institute International Summer School

The 9th Royan Institute International Summer School

The 9th Royan Institute International Summer School

Brain and Cognitive Sciences


  • Introduction to the Brain and Cognitive Sciences
  • Brain development / Brain organoids
  • Methods to Study the Brain in Action
    • fMRI, MEG, EEG, TMS,
  • The Brain in Health and Disease

The 9th Royan International Summer School will be held on July 14-18 2018. If you wish to participate, please kindly fill the attached Form and email it to ( till July 1, 2018 to the summer school secretariat.


Royan Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Technology (RI-SCBT) has recently expanded their neuroscience research by establishing the Brain and Cognitive Sciences Department with a focus on brain organoids, basic and clinical neuroscience, and brain imaging:

  • The brain organoid research is led by Prof Hossein Baharvand, head of the RI-SCBT, building in vitro and in vivo brain organoids to study brain development in health and disease.
  • The basic and clinical neuroscience research is formed by a diverse and collaborative team of faculty members: Prof. Javan, Dr. Shahpasand, Dr Kiani, Dr Satarian and Dr. Shahbazi. The team is currently conducting research on Parkinson’s Disease, Epilepsy, Alzheimer’s Disease, Spinal Cord Injury and Retinal damages.
  • The brain imaging part is led by Dr. Seyed Khaligh-Razavi, using the brain imaging facilities available at the national brain mapping lab (NBML), helping with both the clinical and the basic research towards understanding the human brain in health and disease.

This is the 9th summer school held at Royan institute, but the first one with a focus on brain and cognitive sciences.

The school is deliberately designed to cover a broad range of topics on brain sciences from the world leading researchers in the field so the audience can get the chance to taste different aspects of the rapidly growing, multidisciplinary field of brain and cognitive sciences. We hope this will help students to gain invaluable insights towards finding their area of interest for their future research in the field.

This year’s Scientific Chairman of the summer school is Dr. Seyed-Mahdi Khaligh-Razavi.

The 19th Royan International Research Award

The 19th Royan International Research Award


19th Royan International Research Award
August 29, 2018 – Tehran – Iran


Royan International Research Award was founded by the late director of Royan Institute, Dr. Saeid Kazemi Ashtiani, with the aim of encouraging the researchers and appreciation of their efforts. This annual award is extending into a higher quality event every year, increasing the scientific level and number of the submitted papers. The research papers are evaluated through an intense jury procedure by Award’s national and international jury board to whom our special thanks goes. Each year the prominent researches with outstanding help in solving problems in reproduction and stem cell fields, are announced, appreciated and rewarded. This annual award is a prize given to five prominent research projects in the field of Reproductive Biomedicine, Stem Cell Biology and Technology and other related subjects.

The winners will be invited to take part in Award Ceremony on the designated day so as to be granted their awards.

Each winner will be rewarded with a certificate, the symbol of Royan Award and a cash prize. It is necessary for winners to present their works in Royan International Twin Congress beside the Award Ceremony.

Beyond scientific sphere, Royan institute attaches too much importance to establishments and strengthening of amicable and humane relationships among those scientific elites whose mental disturbances and concerns are human’s health. In alignment with this vocation and realization of such a high goal, we are opt to exchange our valuable achievements and longtime acquired experiences to strengthen our cordial relations and confer with scientific think thanks and research centers. It is hoped that our efforts will lead to the appeasement (relief- mitigation) of human sufferings and result in a world imbued with peace and tranquility and abatement of brewing horrendous and grinding crises.

14th Royan Cogress on Stem Cell Biology and Technology

14th Royan Cogress on Stem Cell Biology and Technology


19th Congress on Reproductive Biomedicine & 14th Congress on Stem Cell Biology and Technology,
29-31 August, 2018


Royan International Twin Congress on Reproductive Biomedicine and Stem Cells Biology & Technology is a unique event in its own field in Iran and the Middle East. The congress is a joint of two separate congresses with different themes held by the Reproductive Biomedicine and Stem Cells Research Centers, Royan Institute.

The rapid growing pace of scientific advancement and dissemination of the latest scientific findings in recent years necessitates the development of collaboration among Iranian scientists and their colleagues from around the globe to exchange the scientific knowledge, expertise and experience. In this regard, Royan International Twin Congress provides a favorable opportunity to achieve scientific purposes and promote the scope of international cooperation.

The congress main objective is to bring together researchers and practitioners from all over the world in the scientific fields of stem cells and reproductive biomedicine to stimulate and promote research in these areas. The congress will cover all the main topics through sessions of highly scientific content, extremely innovative and interesting topics, as well as greatly stimulating discussions on the current challenging scientific issues through various sessions of poster and oral presentation, ongoing workshops, and training courses. In addition, the winners of Royan International Research Award on Reproductive Biomedicine and Stem Cell Biology & Technology will also present their works in Royan Congress.

Moreover, Royan International Twin Congress is an extraordinary opportunity and promising occasion for participants from abroad to experience the warm hospitality of Iranians and it is an exciting adventure to visit Iran’s picturesque and glamorous beauties to touch the rich Iranian history, glamorous architecture, and art as well as vast diversity of natural landscapes and resources.

We have the pleasure of extending our sincere welcome to you to attend Royan International Twin Congress, 19th Congress on Reproductive Biomedicine and 14th Congress on Stem Cell Biology and Technology on 29-31 August 2018, which definitely will be a memorable occasion for developing a lifelong friendship in the coming years.