BOSTON (Reuters Health) Oct 18 - Experimental findings in mice suggest that transplanted neural stem cells could replace lost oligodendrocytes in patients with multiple sclerosis, according to a presentation here at the 125th meeting of the American Neurological Association.
"We are searching for the mechanism to transform neural stem cells into cells that can repair the damage caused by the disease," Dr. Seung U. Kim told Reuters Health.
Dr. Kim and colleagues at the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver, Canada, induced human neural stem cells to produce oligodendrocytes in vitro. When they transplanted the oligodendrocytes into a murine model of MS, they noted a significant reduction in tremors and neural symptoms, and they detected remyelination of previously unmyelinated fibers.
"This is only the beginning," Dr. Kim said. "We must find the mechanism that triggers neural stem cells into developing as oligodendrocytes."
Dr. Kim and his fellow researchers are investigating whether genetically
altered neural stem cells are also effective in the treatment of Parkinson's
disease, stroke and other neurologic diseases. In a separate study scheduled
to be presented at the ANA meeting, they demonstrated that neural stem
cells modified to produce dopamine ameliorate the symptoms of Parkinson's
disease when implanted into the brains of rats with that disorder.