The human clinical trial was undertaken following extensive studies in primates conducted by Tuszynski and colleagues, which showed that grafting NGF-producing tissue into the brains of aged monkeys restored atrophied brain cells to near-normal size and quantity, and also restored axons connecting the brain cells, essential for communication between cells. The recent human studies were a Phase I clinical trial, designed to test safety and toxicity. The procedure was initially performed while patients were awake but lightly sedated, and two patients moved as the cells were being injected, resulting in bleeding in the brain. One of these patients died five week later. As a result of the bleeds, the protocol was redesigned to perform the procedure under general anesthesia and all subsequent procedures were performed without complication.
Cognitive outcomes were assessed in the six patients who completed the NGF delivery procedure safely. The Mini Mental Status Examination (MMSE), which evaluates cognitive function, was administered at screening, the time of treatment and at several intervals after treatment. Over an average post-treatment follow-up period of 22 months, the rate of decline on the MMSE among NGF-treated patients was reduced by as much as 51 percent. An additional test, called the Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale-Cognitive Subcomponent, or ADAS-Cog, also showed improvements in rates of decline followed the MMSE findings.
Post-operative PET scans in four subjects showed significant increases in the brain's absorption of a radioisotope called 18-fluorodeoxyglucose, an indicator of increased metabolic activity in the brain. The researchers noted that the increase was observed in most cortical regions that receive cholinergic input from forebrain nerve cells called the nucleus basalis, and in the cerebellum, a structure associated with cortical plasticity.
In addition to Tuszynski, authors of the paper in
Source:University of California - San Diego