Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Stem Cells, Cellular Therapy & Biobanking
>
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Stem Cell Therapy Rescues Motor Neurons in ALS Model

Published: Wednesday, August 01, 2007
Last Updated: Wednesday, August 01, 2007
Bookmark and Share
University of Wisconsin-Madison scientists show that it is possible to rescue the dying neurons characteristics of ALS by using cell-based therapies.

In a study that demonstrates the promise of cell-based therapies for diseases that have proved intractable to modern medicine, a team of scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison has shown it is possible to rescue the dying neurons characteristic of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a fatal neuromuscular disorder also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

The new work, conducted in a rat model and reported online in open-access journal PLoS ONE, shows that stem cells engineered to secrete a key growth factor can protect the motor neurons that waste away as a result of ALS.

An important caveat, however, is that while the motor neurons within the spinal cord are protected by the growth factor, their ability to maintain connections with the muscles they control was not observed.

"At the early stages of disease, we saw almost 100 percent protection of motor neurons," explains Clive Svendsen, a neuroscientist who, with colleague Masatoshi Suzuki, led the study at UW-Madison's Waisman Center. "But when we looked at the function of these animals, we saw no improvement. The muscles aren't responding."

At present, there are no effective treatments for ALS, which afflicts roughly 40,000 people in the United States and which is almost always fatal within three to five years of diagnosis. Patients gradually experience progressive muscle weakness and paralysis as the motor neurons that control muscles are destroyed by the disease. The cause of ALS is unknown.

In the new Wisconsin study, nascent brain cells known as neural progenitor cells derived from human fetal tissue were engineered to secrete a chemical known as glial cell line derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF), an agent that has been shown to protect neurons but that is very difficult to deliver to specific regions of the brain. The engineered cells were then implanted in the spinal cords of rats afflicted with a form of ALS.

"GDNF has a very high affinity for motor neurons in the spinal cord," says Svendsen. When implanted, "the (GDNF secreting) cells survive beautifully. In 80 percent of the animals, we saw nice maturing transplants."

The implanted cells, in fact, demonstrated an affinity for the areas of the spinal cord where motor neurons were dying. According to Svendsen, the cells migrate to the area of damage where they "just sit and release GDNF."

The Wisconsin team transplanted the cells on one side of the spinal cord and used the untreated side to compare the affects of the transplanted cells and their chemical secretions.

"We only put the transplant in one small area of the spinal cord and only on one side," Suzuki says. "The areas where we saw the human cells were the only areas where we saw protection of motor neurons."

But while the motor neurons exposed to GDNF were protected, the Wisconsin team was unable to detect the connections between the neurons and the muscles they govern.

"Even in animals that had lots of motor neurons surviving, we didn't see the (muscle) connection, which explained why we didn't see functional recovery," says Suzuki.

Although the obvious next step in the research is to try and ferret out the reasons the protected motor neurons are unable to hook up with muscles, Svendsen suggests the work further supports movement toward clinical trials in humans.

"We think the cells are safe, and they do increase the survival of the motor neurons," Svendsen argues. "This may be very important for patients that lose neurons every day. However, it's not a trivial intervention - you have to drill a hole in the spinal cord to get the cells releasing GDNF in. But there are few options for these patients and we will continue to move forward with this approach."


Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,500+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 3,800+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

New Induced Stem Cells May Unmask Cancer at Earliest Stage
A team of Wisconsin scientists observes the onset of the blood cancer leukemia by coaxing healthy and diseased human bone marrow to become embryonic-like stem cells.
Tuesday, February 08, 2011
Gene Regulating Human Brain Development Identified
New findings by Wisconsin-Madison scientists reveal the main genetic factor responsible for instructing cells at the earliest stages of embryonic development.
Friday, July 02, 2010
Liver Cells Grown From Patients’ Skin Cells Could Lead to Treatment of Liver Diseases
Wisconsin scientists have successfully produced liver cells from patients’ skin cells opening the possibility of treating liver diseases.
Monday, October 12, 2009
California Company Licenses Human Embryonic Stem Cell Technology from WARF
BioTime signs licensing agreement with WARF for 173 patents and patent applications relating to human embryonic stem cell technology created at the UW-Madison.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Stem Cells Show Power to Predict Disease, Drug Toxicity
Scientists have used human embryonic stem cells to predict the toxic effects of drugs and provide chemical clues to diagnosing disease.
Monday, December 10, 2007
UW-Madison Scientists Guide Human Skin Cells to Embryonic State
Researchers reports the genetic reprogramming of human skin cells to create cells indistinguishable from embryonic stem cells in a paper to be published online.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
UW Launches Study Testing Adult Stem Cells for Repair of Heart Damage
The University of Wisconsin will take part in a clinical trial that involves investigation of patient’s own stem cells to treat severe coronary artery disease.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Scientific News
The Mending Tissue - Cellular Instructions for Tissue Repair
NUS-led collaborative study identifies universal mechanism that explains how tissue shape regulates physiological processes such as wound healing and embryo development.
Tissue Bank Pays Dividends for Brain Cancer Research
Checking what’s in the bank – the Brisbane Breast Bank, that is – has paid dividends for UQ cancer researchers.
iPS Cells Discover Drug Target for Muscle Disease
Researchers have designed a model that reprograms fibroblasts to the early stages of their differentiation into intact muscle cells in a step towards a therapeutic for Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
Engineered Hot Fat Implants Reduce Weight Gain
Scientists at UC Berkeley have developed a novel way to engineer the growth and expansion of energy-burning “good” fat, and then found that this fat helped reduce weight gain and lower blood glucose levels in mice.
Transplanted Stem Cells Can Benefit Retinal Disease Sufferers
Tests on animal models show that MSCs secrete growth factors that suppress causes of diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration.
MRI Scanners Can Steer Therapeutics to Specific Target Sites
Scientists from the University of Sheffield have discovered MRI scanners, normally used to produce images, can steer cell-based, tumour busting therapies to specific target sites in the body.
Team Finds Early Inflammatory Response Paralyzes T Cells
Findings could have enormous implications for immunotherapy, autoimmune disorders, transplants and other aspects of immunity.
Early Detection of Lung Cancer
The University of Manchester has signed a collaboration agreement with Abcodia to perform proteomics studies on a cohort of non-small cell lung cancer cases from the UKCTOCS biobank, with the aim of discovering new blood-based biomarkers for earlier detection of the disease.
Researchers Identify Drug Candidate for Skin, Hair Regeneration
Formerly undiscovered role of protein may lead to the development of new medications that stimulate hair and skin regeneration in trauma or burn victims.
Basis for New Treatment Options for a Fatal Leukemia in Children Revealed
Detailed molecular analyses allow new insights into the function of tumour cells and options for new treatments.
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,500+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,800+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FREE!