More MS news articles for April 2002

Adult Stem Cells Used to Repair Damage from Parkinson's Disease

Adult neural stem cells taken from a patient's own central nervous system have been successfully used to treat Parkinson's disease, scientists from Celmed BioSciences reported at the annual meeting of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.

http://www.newswise.com/articles/2002/4/STEMCELL.CB2.html

9-Apr-02
Celmed BioSciences

CHICAGO (April 8, 2002) -- Adult neural stem cells taken from a patient's own central nervous system have been successfully used to treat Parkinson's disease, scientists from Celmed BioSciences reported Monday at the annual meeting of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS). The research suggests that this method of using adult stem cells may possibly be useful in treating a variety of other neurological conditions.

Neurosurgeon Michel F. Levesque, MD, FRCS, FACS, and Toomas Neuman, PhD, isolated adult neural stem cells from a patient, induced them to differentiate into the desired nervous system cells, and implanted them back into the patient's brain. One year after the procedure, the patient's symptoms were reduced by more than 80 percent. Levesque, a principal investigator for Celmed BioSciences, has been authorized by the FDA to conduct a Phase II clinical trial for Parkinson's disease, using cell therapy derived from autologous neural stem cells, once certain animal studies are completed and approved. This will be the first study of its kind in the world evaluating the benefits of autologous cell therapy for this disease.

The research demonstrates that adult stem cells can be coaxed to become the crucial cells that produce dopamine and that those cells can function after implant. Dopamine is an essential brain chemical, which is deficient in people who suffer from Parkinson's disease.

In their study, Levesque and Neuman demonstrated that the implantation of dopamine-secreting cells increases the available supply of dopamine to the brain. However, they also found evidence that symptoms of Parkinson's disease appear to be reduced even if the uptake of dopamine is not increased.

Adult Stem Cells Used to Repair Damage From Parkinson's Disease

The patient's clinical symptoms continued to improve after the procedure, but PET-scan studies of the patient's brain taken one year after the procedure suggest that the benefit results from factors other than the dopamine-secreting cells. PET-scans taken at three months showed increased dopamine uptake. At one year, the dopamine uptake returned to the same level it was right before the implantation.

"We need to investigate whether there are other mechanisms involved in Parkinson's disease that could lead to alternative treatment strategies," said Levesque, who believes that other nervous system cells that were generated from the patient's stem cells and implanted along with the dopamine-secreting cells may be responsible.

In addition to its use for Parkinson's disease, the technique is under study for juvenile diabetes, stroke, brain tumors, spinal cord injury, and other conditions. The use of an individual's own stem cells offers advantages over other sources because it reduces the infection and rejection dangers and because it avoids the limitations and ethical concerns of using stem cells from other sources.

Levesque, who is director, Neural Repair and Functional Neurosurgery Center, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and vice president, Medical Research, Celmed BioSciences; and Neuman is program director, Neurodifferentiation at Celmed BioSciences USA.

The patient in the current study, a nuclear reactor engineer and fighter jet pilot, was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease when he was 49. He had to stop piloting airplanes at 52 because of progressive rigidity and tremor, especially of his right hand. Traditional drug therapy did not stop the symptoms from getting worse.

After stem cells were harvested from the patient's cortex using a routine brain biopsy procedure, they were cultured and expanded to reach several million cells. About 20 percent of differentiated neurons became mature dopamine-secreting cells. In March 1999, the cells were delivered by microinjection at six locations in the left putamen.

To measure the technique's effects, post-operative clinical assessments, including measures of the patient's motor scores, were performed at three, six, nine and 12 months by neurologists who were unaware of the transplantation. Three months after the procedure (while still on oral medication), his motor scores improved by 37 percent and there was a 55.6 percent increase in dopamine uptake. One year after the procedure, the patient's overall Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) improved by 83 percent while not taking medication.

Michel Levesque, MD, FRCS, FACS is director, Neural Repair and Functional Neurosurgery Center, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center; principal investigator, Celmed BioSciences USA; vice president, Medical Research, Celmed BioSciences; associate medical professor, UCLA School of Medicine; and member, Brain Research Institute, UCLA School of Medicine. He has authored over 75 articles in professional journals, contributed chapters to many leading neurosurgery treatises and over 150 scientific abstracts.

Adult Stem Cells Used to Repair Damage From Parkinson's Disease

Toomas Neuman, PhD, is program director, Neurodifferentiation at Celmed BioSciences USA. He is the author of approximately 50 scientific papers and has collaborated on several inventions relating to DNA synthesis and integration in neurons that resulted in patent applications.

Celmed BioSciences is a newly formed cell therapy company dedicated to the treatment of neurological, hematological and immunological disorders using adult stem cell technologies. By integrating personalized medicine and basic molecular biology tools revealing each individual genomics and proteomics profile, Celmed dedicates its efforts to develop new biological selective therapies. Celmed is a new subsidiary of Theratechnologies, a publicly traded company on the Toronto Stock Exchange. (TH.TO).

Contact:

Jamie Ludowitz or Tanya Peebles
Fleishman-Hillard, Inc.
213.629.4974

Patricia Delaney Lussier
Theratechnologies Inc.
514.336.4804 x234

2310 Alfred-Nobel Blvd.
Saint Laurent, Quebec, Canada H4S 2A4
Phone: ( 514) 336-7800
Fax: (514) 336-4451

110 George Burns Road, Suite 4090
Los Angeles, CA 90048, USA
Phone: ( 514) 336-7800
Fax : (514) 336-4451
http://www.celmedbio.co
 

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