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UCI study finds modified stem cells offer potential pathway to treat Alzheimer's disease
Date:4/15/2014

April 15, 2014, Irvine, Calif. UC Irvine neurobiologists have found that genetically modified neural stem cells show positive results when transplanted into the brains of mice with the symptoms and pathology of Alzheimer's disease. The pre-clinical trial is published in the journal Stem Cells Research and Therapy, and the approach has been shown to work in two different mouse models.

Alzheimer's disease, one of the most common forms of dementia, is associated with accumulation of the protein amyloid-beta in the brain in the form of plaques. While the search continues for a viable treatment, scientists are now looking into non-pharmaceutical ways to slow onset of this disease.

One option being considered is increasing the production of the enzyme neprilysin, which breaks down amyloid-beta, and shows lower activity in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease. Researchers from UC Irvine investigated the potential of decreasing amyloid-beta by delivering neprilysin to mice brains.

"Studies suggest that neprilysin decreases with age and may therefore influence the risk of Alzheimer's disease," said Mathew Blurton-Jones, an assistant professor of neurobiology & behavior. "If amyloid accumulation is the driving cause of Alzheimer's disease, then therapies that either decrease amyloid-beta production or increase its degradation could be beneficial, especially if they are started early enough."

The brain is protected by a system called the blood-brain-barrier that restricts access of cells, proteins, and drugs to the brain. While the blood-brain-barrier is important for brain health, it also makes it challenging to deliver therapeutic proteins or drugs to the brain. To overcome this, the researchers hypothesized that stem cells could act as an effective delivery vehicle. To test this hypothesis the brains of two different mouse models (3xTg-AD and Thy1-APP) were injected with genetically modified neural stem cells
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Contact: Tom Vasich
tmvasich@uci.edu
949-824-6455
University of California - Irvine
Source:Eurekalert  

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