Irvine, Calif., June 28, 2012 An international consortium of Huntington's disease experts, including several from the Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center at UC Irvine, has generated a human model of the deadly inherited disorder directly from the skin cells of affected patients.
The re-created neurons, which live in a petri dish, will help researchers better understand what disables and kills brain cells in people with HD and let them gauge the effects of potential drug therapies on cells that are otherwise locked deep in the brain.
UCI scientists were part of a consortium that in 1993 identified the autosomal dominant gene mutation responsible for HD, but there is still no cure, and no treatments are available to even slow its onset or progression. The research, published online today in the journal Cell Stem Cell, is the work of the Huntington's Disease iPSC Consortium. Participants examined several other cell lines and control cell lines to ensure that their results were consistent and reproducible in different labs.
"Our discovery will enable us for the first time to test therapies on human Huntington's disease neurons," said Leslie Thompson, UCI professor of psychiatry & human behavior and neurobiology & behavior, one of the world's leading HD experts and a senior author of the study. "This has been a remarkable time in HD research, with the advent of stem cell technologies that have allowed these scientific advancements. Also, having a team of scientists working together as a consortium has benefited the research tremendously and accelerated its pace."
Leslie Lock, a UCI assistant professor of developmental & cell biology and biological chemistry whose lab helped develop the induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC), added: "It's exciting to be carrying out work that provides hope for HD patients and their families."
Thompson said that UCI scientists will use the new model to study the specific gen
|Contact: Tom Vasich|
University of California - Irvine