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Engineered Stem Cells Show Promise For Sneaking Drugs Into The Brain

to be overcome before such a technique could be attempted in human patients, says Svendsen, is developing a method to switch transplanted cells on or off and thus control their drug delivery capabilities. Working with engineered cells in culture, the Wisconsin group found they could switch the cells on and off using a second drug. Doing so in animal models, however, was more difficult and the issue will need to be addressed in new experiments, according to Svendsen.

The new study, Svendsen argues, proves that progenitor cells -- cells that can now be made in large quantities in the laboratory -- can be crafted to help clinicians deliver drugs where they are needed most in the body. Delivering medicine to the brain, whose blood-brain barrier effectively excludes more than 70 percent of all drugs, would be an especially valuable use for the cells. Such a new method may be useful for treating a number of neurodegenerative diseases beyond Parkinson's, he says.

In addition to Svendsen and Behrstock, authors of the new Gene Therapy paper include Allison Ebert, Jacqueline McHugh, Stephen Vosberg, Elizabeth Capowski, Bernard Schneider and Derek Hei, all of UW-Madison; Jeffery Kordower of Rush University Medical Center; and Patrick Aebischer of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.


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Source:University of Wisconsin-Madison


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