StemCells Inc. announced preclinical data demonstrating that its proprietary human neural stem cells restored memory and enhanced synaptic function in two animal models relevant to Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The data was presented today at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2012 in Vancouver, Canada.
The study results showed that transplanting the cells into a specific region of the brain, the hippocampus, statistically increased memory in two different animal models. The hippocampus is critically important to the control of memory and is severely impacted by the pathology of AD. Specifically, hippocampal synaptic density is reduced in AD and correlates with memory loss. The researchers observed increased synaptic density and improved memory post transplantation. Importantly, these results did not require reduction in beta amyloid or tau that accumulate in the brains of patients with AD and account for the pathological hallmarks of the disease.
The research was conducted in collaboration with a world-renowned leader in AD, Frank LaFerla, Ph.D., Director of the University of California, Irvine (UCI) Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders (UCI MIND), and Chancellor’s Professor, Neurobiology and Behavior in the School of Biological Sciences at UCI. Matthew Blurton-Jones, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Neurobiology and Behavior at UCI, presented the study results.
“This is the first time human neural stem cells have been shown to have a significant effect on memory,” said Dr. LaFerla. “While AD is a diffuse disorder, the data suggest that transplanting these cells into the hippocampus might well benefit patients with Alzheimer’s. We believe the outcomes in these two animal models provide strong rationale to study this approach in the clinic and we wish to thank the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine for the support it has given this promising research.”
Stephen Huhn, M.D., FACS, FAAP, Vice President and Head of the CNS Program at StemCells, added, “While reducing beta amyloid and tau burden is a major focus in AD research, our data is intriguing because we obtained improved memory without a reduction in either of these pathologies. AD is a complex and challenging disorder. The field would benefit from the pursuit of a diverse range of treatment approaches and our neural stem cells now appear to offer a unique and viable contribution in the battle against this devastating disease.”