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Fetal Neural Grafts Improves Motor and Cognitive Function in Huntington Patients

Anne-Catherine Bachoud-Lévi, M.D., and colleagues of the French national institute of health and medicine reported in The Lancet that Huntington's disease// who previously received intracerebral fetal neural grafts had improvements in both motor and cognitive function.

But the same investigators reported today that the improvements in Huntington's disease patients plateaued after two years and then began to decline over the next two to four years, with consistent worsening of dystonia but not chorea.

The patient’s cognitive performance remained stable on non-timed tests, but worsened on timed tests, indicating continued loss of motor function.

In this intracerebral cell therapy the investigators grafts replacement striatal neuroblasts and neural precursor cells obtained from electively aborted fetuses into the brains of patients with Huntington's disease.

Even after a year the transplanted cells did not have any signs of typical Huntington's neuropathology but they do not affect the disease progression in the native cells carrying the mutant huntingtin gene.

In this pilot study the five participants were followed for up to six years after neural graft surgery. The patients were assessed annually with the unified Huntington's disease rating scale, neuropsychological tests, and MRI. It showed that three of the five patients in the first two years were marked by progressive clinical improvement, followed by a period of stabilization, and then gradual decline. On the other hand the remaining two patients had no lasting clinical benefits of improvement in brain function.

It was found that one patient continued to work part time for six years, and all three patients were able to do activities they had lost before the surgery but regained afterward, such as cycling or doing odd jobs around the house like cycling and guitar playing. But these activities were lost again after five years. At the end of the study a
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