Cell transplants may alleviate Huntington's disease

June 07, 2016

New research from the University of Copenhagen reveals that the glia cells in the brain could be the key to the cure of the serious neurological disease Huntington's disease. The results may be of great importance to future treatment of neurological diseases.

For the first time scientists have succeeded in using a special type of nerve cells in the brain -- glia cells -- to prolong the life expectancy and alleviate the symptoms in mice with Huntington's disease. The study has just been published in the scientific journal NATURE COMMUNICATIONS. According to the professor behind the study, the results may prove of great importance to future treatment of neurological diseases.

"It's the first time, we've conducted this type of transplant and the results are both positive and surprising. It reveals that diseased mice injected with healthy glia cells live longer and their condition improves. This is very promising, and it's only the tip of the iceberg. We hope to be able to conduct further research on whether this method could possibly result in a treatment for Huntington's," says Professor Steven Goldman from the Center of Basic and Translational Neuroscience at the University of Copenhagen, who led the new study, done with collaborators at the University of Rochester in the US.

Glia cells could potentially be used to fight other neurological diseases

This new study encompasses two seminal discoveries. Firstly, Steven Goldman and his research team transplanted glia cells infected with pathogenic gene mutations of Huntington's disease into healthy mice. In adulthood, the mice developed symptoms of Huntington's in the form of reduced motor skills, and so the research team concluded that there is indeed a causal connection between glia cells and the development of Huntington's. During the second phase of the study, the researchers transplanted healthy human glial cells into mice with the Huntington's disease mutation, and as a result the mice's motor and cognitive skills improved and they also lived longer.

"This is at least in part due to the fact that glia cells control the level of potassium in the brain, which is vital for our motor and cognitive skills. In Huntington disease, the level of potassium in brain tissue becomes unstable, but when the glia cells are injected they restore potassium to normal levels. We hope that as we continue our research on these mechanisms in the future, that it will bring us closer to finding a meaningful treatment for Huntington's, and possibly other similar neurodegenerative diseases," Steven Goldman explains.

The next step will be to examine the effect of transplanting glia cells into adult mice. Up until this point, the researchers have worked with very young mice, i.e. mice in which the disease has not yet fully developed. Now, in contrast, the researchers are now examining whether transplanting healthy glia cells into adult mice with more advanced disease has the same strong benefit. If this should be the case, then the investigators would next consider a human clinical trial of this approach.
-end-


University of Copenhagen The Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

Related Brain Articles from Brightsurf:

Glioblastoma nanomedicine crosses into brain in mice, eradicates recurring brain cancer
A new synthetic protein nanoparticle capable of slipping past the nearly impermeable blood-brain barrier in mice could deliver cancer-killing drugs directly to malignant brain tumors, new research from the University of Michigan shows.

Children with asymptomatic brain bleeds as newborns show normal brain development at age 2
A study by UNC researchers finds that neurodevelopmental scores and gray matter volumes at age two years did not differ between children who had MRI-confirmed asymptomatic subdural hemorrhages when they were neonates, compared to children with no history of subdural hemorrhage.

New model of human brain 'conversations' could inform research on brain disease, cognition
A team of Indiana University neuroscientists has built a new model of human brain networks that sheds light on how the brain functions.

Human brain size gene triggers bigger brain in monkeys
Dresden and Japanese researchers show that a human-specific gene causes a larger neocortex in the common marmoset, a non-human primate.

Unique insight into development of the human brain: Model of the early embryonic brain
Stem cell researchers from the University of Copenhagen have designed a model of an early embryonic brain.

An optical brain-to-brain interface supports information exchange for locomotion control
Chinese researchers established an optical BtBI that supports rapid information transmission for precise locomotion control, thus providing a proof-of-principle demonstration of fast BtBI for real-time behavioral control.

Transplanting human nerve cells into a mouse brain reveals how they wire into brain circuits
A team of researchers led by Pierre Vanderhaeghen and Vincent Bonin (VIB-KU Leuven, Université libre de Bruxelles and NERF) showed how human nerve cells can develop at their own pace, and form highly precise connections with the surrounding mouse brain cells.

Brain scans reveal how the human brain compensates when one hemisphere is removed
Researchers studying six adults who had one of their brain hemispheres removed during childhood to reduce epileptic seizures found that the remaining half of the brain formed unusually strong connections between different functional brain networks, which potentially help the body to function as if the brain were intact.

Alcohol byproduct contributes to brain chemistry changes in specific brain regions
Study of mouse models provides clear implications for new targets to treat alcohol use disorder and fetal alcohol syndrome.

Scientists predict the areas of the brain to stimulate transitions between different brain states
Using a computer model of the brain, Gustavo Deco, director of the Center for Brain and Cognition, and Josephine Cruzat, a member of his team, together with a group of international collaborators, have developed an innovative method published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Sept.

Read More: Brain News and Brain Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.