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.
UC Davis Health System researchers who are working to speed therapies to patients suffering from critical limb ischemia, osteoporosis and Huntington’s disease received approval today for three separate research grants from the state’s stem cell agency totaling more than $53 million. Each of the research studies that can now begin at UC Davis are specifically designed to lead to U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval of human clinical trials using stem cells and regenerative therapies.
At today’s meeting of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) in San Francisco, the agency’s 29-member governing board approved five other grant proposals as part of its $150 million Disease Team Research Awards program. Funding goes to a highly select group of scientific collaborations to accelerate the state’s most promising stem cell research.
“Today’s Disease Team awards reflect the expertise and experience that UC Davis brings to the world of regenerative medicine,” said Jan Nolta, professor of internal medicine and director of the UC Davis Stem Cell Program and its Institute for Regenerative Cures in Sacramento. “Our teams are as eager as patients and families themselves to begin the type of clinical research that will allow us to discover new therapies and cures for people suffering from chronic and life-debilitating diseases. These generous grants allow our researchers to focus as never before on finding the best answers to the most challenging questions in regenerative medicine.”
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