Mouse cell transplants for Huntington’s patients

February 12, 2002 | Source: New Scientist

Transplants of mouse stem cells into the brains of patients with Huntington’s Chorea could help slow the associated dementia and loss of coordination, says UK company ReNeuron.
Huntington’s is caused by an inherited genetic mutation, which leads to a destruction of cells in a part of the brain called the striatum. ReNeuron has transplanted cells from its mouse neural stem cell line into monkeys designed to act as models of Huntington’s patients.

There are theoretical concerns that potentially deadly viruses from the donor animal cells could be passed to the human recipients.

Other groups of researchers are transplanting fetal tissue into the brains of Huntington’s patients.

In theory, an unlimited number of cells for treatment could be generated from the mouse, and from the human, stem cell lines. At the moment, ReNeuron’s human line is too genetically unstable, with unpredictable chromosomal abnormalities appearing as the cells repeatedly divide.