Huntington's Disease – Stem Cell Therapy Potential

Editor's Choice Academic Journal Main Category: Huntingtons Disease Also Included In: Stem Cell Research Article Date: 19 Mar 2012 - 10:00 PDT

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However, according to a study published March 15 in the journal Cell Stem Cell, a special type of brain cell created from stem cells could help restore the muscle coordination deficits that are responsible for uncontrollable spasms, a characteristic of the disease. The researchers demonstrated that movement in mice with a Huntington's-like condition could be restored.

Su-Chun Zhang, a University of Wisconsin-Madison neuroscientist and the senior author of the study, said:

In the study Zhang, who is an expert in creating various types of brain cells from human embryonic or induce pluripotent stem cells, and his team focused on GABA neurons. The degradation of GABA cells causes the breakdown of a vital neural circuit and loss of motor function in individuals suffering from Huntington's disease.

According to Zhang, GABA neurons generate a vital neurotransmitter, a chemical that helps support the communication network in the brain that coordinates movement.

Zhang and his team at the UW-Madison Waisman Center, discovered how to generate large quantities of GABA neurons from human embryonic stem cells. The team's goal was to determine whether these cells would safely integrate into the brain of a mouse model of Huntington's disease.

The researchers discovered that not only did the cells integrate, they were projected to the right target and were able to effectively restore the damaged communication network and restore motor function.

Zhang says that the results were astonishing, as GABA neurons reside in the basal ganglia, a part of the brain which plays a vital role in voluntary motor coordination. However, the GABA neurons exert their influence at a distance on cells in the midbrain via the circuit powered by the GABA neuron chemical neurotransmitter.

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Huntington's Disease - Stem Cell Therapy Potential

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