Athens is becoming an international center for Parkinson’s disease research with the opening of BresaGen Ltd., an Australian biotechnology company that specializes in research on human embryo stem cells to find a cure for the disease.

          The company has set up operations in Athens to be closer to therapeutic cloning expert Steven Stice of the University of Georgia (UGA).

          Dr. Stice told GlobalFax that the company was recruited by biotech research firms in California and Colorado. The Athens office is to be its U.S. headquarters, with an eventual staff of some 20 scientists working in an incubator space near UGA.

          The labs are working to develop brain stem cells that produce ample dopamine, a natural chemical needed for normal body functioning. Parkinson’s victims are deficient in dopamine, causing them lack of muscle control and difficulty breathing and swallowing.

          Dr. Stice said that other significant Parkinson’s research is underway in the San Francisco Bay area by Geron Technologies and in Providence, R.I. by StemCells Inc. The United Kingdom is another leader in such technology, along with Australia and the U.S.

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