Current treatment approaches drugs, surgery and electrical stimulation -- are relatively blunt instruments, he says. Drugs, for instance, generally act indiscriminately, affecting whole areas of the nervous system, so there often are multiple side effects.
The new study findings complement two other recent UCSF studies using MGE cells to modify neural circuits. In a collaborative study among the laboratories of Scott Baraban, PhD, professor of neurological surgery; John Rubenstein, MD, PhD, professor of psychiatry, and Alvarez-Buylla, the cells were grafted into the neocortex of juvenile rodents, where they reduced the intensity and frequency of epileptic seizures. (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 106, no. 36, 2009). Other teams are exploring this tactic, as well.
In the other study (Science, Vol. 327. no. 5969, 2010), UCSF scientists reported the first use of MGEs to broaden the period of plasticity, or capacity to change, in the mouse visual cortex. The finding, reported by the labs of Alvarez-Buylla and Michael Stryker, PhD, professor of physiology, might some day be used, they say, to create a new period of plasticity of limited duration for repairing damaged brains.
Looking ahead, the team studying MGE cells in the rat model of Parkinson's disease plans to target a more specific sub region of the striatum, with the goal of getting a more precise effect. They also want to see if the cells could be genetically modified to produce dopamine, thus more directly addressing the biochemical changes of Parkinson's disease, and they plan to attempt to prompt human embryonic stem cells to differentiate, or specialize, into MGE cells in the lab, with the goal of establishing a mechanism for creating a sufficient supply of the cells for clinical use.
|Contact: Jennifer O'Brien|
University of California - San Francisco