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Researchers restore neuron function to brains damaged by Huntington's disease
Date:5/29/2012

Grand Rapids, Mich. (May 29, 2012) Researchers from South Korea, Sweden, and the United States have collaborated on a project to restore neuron function to parts of the brain damaged by Huntington's disease (HD) by successfully transplanting HD-induced pluripotent stem cells into animal models.

Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) can be genetically engineered from human somatic cells such as skin, and can be used to model numerous human diseases. They may also serve as sources of transplantable cells that can be used in novel cell therapies. In the latter case, the patient provides a sample of his or her own skin to the laboratory.

In the current study, experimental animals with damage to a deep brain structure called the striatum (an experimental model of HD) exhibited significant behavioral recovery after receiving transplanted iPS cells. The researchers hope that this approach eventually could be tested in patients for the treatment of HD.

"The unique features of the iPSC approach means that the transplanted cells will be genetically identical to the patient and therefore no medications that dampen the immune system to prevent graft rejection will be needed," said Jihwan Song, D.Phil. Associate Professor and Director of Laboratory of Developmental & Stem Cell Biology at CHA Stem Cell Institute, CHA University, Seoul, South Korea and co-author of the study.

The study, published online this week in Stem Cells, found that transplanted iPSCs initially formed neurons producing GABA, the chief inhibitory neurotransmitter in the mammalian central nervous system, which plays a critical role in regulating neuronal excitability and acts at inhibitory synapses in the brain. GABAergic neurons, located in the striatum, are the cell type most susceptible to degeneration in HD.

Another key point in the study involves the new disease models for HD presented by this method, allowing researchers to study the underlying
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Contact: Tim Hawkins
Tim.Hawkins@vai.org
616-234-5519
Van Andel Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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