Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Transplanted Neural Stem Cells Migrate Throughout The Abnormal Brain, Reduce Disease Symptoms

Date:
June 9, 1999
Source:
NIH-National Institute Of Neurological Disorders And Stroke
Summary:
For years, researchers have probed the mysteries of neural stem cells -- immature cells that can differentiate into all the cell types that make up the brain -- with the idea that they might be useful for treating brain disorders such as Parkinson's disease. Important new animal research now suggests that these cells may be effective in treating a much broader array of brain diseases than previously anticipated, including Alzheimer's disease and many childhood brain disorders.

For years, researchers have probed the mysteries of neural stem cells -- immature cells that can differentiate into all the cell types that make up the brain -- with the idea that they might be useful for treating brain disorders such as Parkinson's disease. Important new animal research now suggests that these cells may be effective in treating a much broader array of brain diseases than previously anticipated, including Alzheimer's disease and many childhood brain disorders.

The new study, led by Evan Snyder, M.D., Ph.D., of Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, provides the first evidence from studies in animals that neural stem cells can be used to repair damage from brain disorders such as adrenoleukodystrophy and multiple sclerosis, where cell dysfunction is "global" or spread throughout the brain. Investigators previously believed that the promise of these cells was limited to disorders such as Parkinson's disease in which damage is restricted to defined areas of the brain. While preliminary, the new findings raise exciting possibilities for future therapies. The study was funded in part by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and appears in the June 8, 1999, issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)(1).

"Stem cells that can develop into a variety of different types of nerve cells and glial cells would be extremely valuable in the therapy of acute and chronic neurological disorders," says Gerald D. Fischbach, M.D., director of NINDS. "The current study shows that stem cells of a certain type can become distributed widely throughout the brain." Glial cells are non-neuronal cells which play supporting roles in the brain and nervous system.

In the new study, Dr. Snyder and his colleagues injected cultured neural stem cells into the brain ventricles of newborn mice from a mutant strain that develops severe tremors by 2 to 3 weeks of age. The tremor develops because the mice lack a key protein needed to make myelin, the insulating coating that surrounds nerve fibers. The lack of normal myelin in these mice mimics the defect seen in many human demyelinating disorders, such as multiple sclerosis and a group of childhood disorders called leukodystrophies. The researchers found that most of the transplanted cells migrated throughout the brain and matured into normal-looking oligodendrocytes, the brain cells that produce myelin. These oligodendrocytes produced a significant amount of the missing protein and began to cover nearby nerve fibers with myelin just as normal oligodendrocytes would. Moreover, tremors disappeared almost completely in 60 percent of the tested mice that received the transplants.

Intriguingly, the neural stem cells transplanted into the brains of the mutant mice were much more likely to form oligodendrocytes than were neural stem cells transplanted into the brains of normal mice. This suggests that the neural stem cells somehow sense that an oligodendrocyte-produced factor is missing in the mutant mice and attempt to compensate for the problem. A similar study previously found that neural stem cells transplanted into mice missing a particular type of neuron tended to form that neural cell type more frequently than expected. If confirmed, this ability to compensate for missing cell types could make neural stem cells a much more effective therapy than researchers anticipated.

While this study looked only at a model of demyelinating disease, Dr. Snyder believes it is plausible that neural stem cells will react to cues from the brains of animals or humans affected with other diseases and compensate for the defects associated with those diseases as well. It may also be possible to genetically engineer neural stem cells so that they not only replace lost cells throughout the brain -- as is seen in Alzheimer's disease -- but also produce proteins that correct whatever problem made the original brain cells die. "Sometimes the original cells are overly sensitive to stress from toxins, viral infections, or other problems because of missing or damaged genes. If so, transplanted cells with normal genes could withstand the stress," says Dr. Snyder. "Researchers also can engineer neural stem cells to withstand, neutralize, or even protect other cells against a toxin or other threat."

While neural stem cell research is very promising, researchers still need to show that human neural stem cells behave like their mouse counterparts, says Dr. Snyder. They also need to learn whether the benefits shown in young animals extend to older animals and whether transplanted cells can overcome ongoing degenerative disease processes so that they do not become new victims of that degeneration. Follow-up research is also needed to better understand how transplanted cells are directed to grow throughout the brain and compensate for missing brain proteins.

Dr. Snyder is now testing neural stem cells in animal models for many other disorders, including perinatal asphyxia (which can lead to cerebral palsy), Krabbe's disease (a demyelinating disorder), and stroke. If all goes well, these studies could eventually lead to clinical trials. However, it is too early to say which human disorders might be the first to be targeted with neural stem cell therapy, and it will take years of careful clinical tests before researchers can show conclusively whether the stem cells work in human disease.

The NINDS is the nation's premier supporter of research on the brain and nervous system. It is part of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, and will celebrate its 50th anniversary in the year 2000.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NIH-National Institute Of Neurological Disorders And Stroke. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NIH-National Institute Of Neurological Disorders And Stroke. "Transplanted Neural Stem Cells Migrate Throughout The Abnormal Brain, Reduce Disease Symptoms." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 June 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/06/990609073135.htm>.
NIH-National Institute Of Neurological Disorders And Stroke. (1999, June 9). Transplanted Neural Stem Cells Migrate Throughout The Abnormal Brain, Reduce Disease Symptoms. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/06/990609073135.htm
NIH-National Institute Of Neurological Disorders And Stroke. "Transplanted Neural Stem Cells Migrate Throughout The Abnormal Brain, Reduce Disease Symptoms." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/06/990609073135.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Newsy (July 30, 2014) The Center for Science in the Public Interest released its 2014 list of single meals with whopping calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins