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Rare genetic disease successfully reversed using stem cell transplantation
Date:9/17/2009

LA JOLLA, CA September 17, 2009 A recent study by Scripps Research Institute scientists offers good news for families of children afflicted with the rare genetic disorder, cystinosis. In research that holds out hope for one day developing a potential therapy to treat the fatal disorder, the study shows that the genetic defect in mice can be corrected with stem cell transplantation.

"After meeting the children who suffer from this disease, like an 18-year-old who has already had three kidney transplants, and the families who are desperately searching for help, our team is committed to moving toward a cure for cystinosis, a lysosomal storage disorder," says principal investigator Stephanie Cherqui, assistant professor in the Department of Molecular and Experimental Medicine. "This study is an important step toward that goal."

In the study, which is published in the September 17, 2009 print edition of the journal Blood, the Scripps Research team used bone marrow stem cell transplantation to address symptoms of cystinosis in a mouse model. The procedure virtually halted the cystine accumulation responsible for the disease and the cascade of cell death that follows.

Cystine is a byproduct of the break down of cellular components the body no longer needs in the cell's "housekeeping" organelles, called lysosomes. Normally, cystine is shunted out of cells, but in cystinosis a gene defect of the lysosomal cystine transporter causes it to build up, forming crystals that are especially damaging to the kidneys and eyes.

A Rare But Devastating Disease

While cystinosis is rareaffecting an estimated 500 people in the United States and 2,000 worldwideit is devastating. Three types of cystinosis have been described based on the age at diagnosis and the amount of cystine in cells: infantile onset, adolescent onset, and adult onset. Children as young as six months can begin to suffer renal dysfunction, which grows progres
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Contact: Keith McKeown
kmckeown@scripps.edu
858-784-8134
Scripps Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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