Alzheimer's Disease & Stroke
We believe that our HuCNS-SC® human neural stem cells have the potential to enhance cellular function associated with a broad range of neurological conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease and stroke. We are currently conducting research studies to evaluate the feasibility and utility of our human neural stem cells as a potential treatment for these indications.
Alzheimer’s disease is a complex, fatal disease affecting approximately 5.3 million Americans1, and today there is no cure or effective treatment option. The leading cause of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease involves progressive cell degeneration beginning with the loss of neurons, brain cells that control thought, memory and language. The disease was first described in 1906 by German physician Dr. Alois Alzheimer, who discovered amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain of a woman who died of an unusual mental illness. These tangles and plaques are now considered hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease.
In 2011, StemCells established a collaboration with Frank LaFerla, PhD, a world renowned leader in Alzheimer's disease research, to study the therapeutic potential of our HuCNS-SC cells in Alzheimer's disease. Dr. LaFerla's research has shown that mouse neural stem cells enhance memory in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease. This groundbreaking research was published in August 2009 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The goal of this collaboration is to replicate the results of Dr. LaFerla's research using the Company's human neural stem cells. Dr. LaFerla is director of the University of California (UCI) Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders (UCI MIND), and Chancellor's professor, Neurobiology and Behavior in the School of Biological Sciences at UCI. StemCells hopes to advance toward clinical testing of its cells in Alzheimer's disease following successful results of this research collaboration.
StemCells previously collaborated with George A. Carlson, PhD, professor and director of the McLaughlin Research Institute in Great Falls, Montana, to study our human neural stem cells in another Alzheimer’s disease model. This research demonstrated that our HuCNS-SC cells are capable of surviving in the hostile environment reflective of an Alzheimer's brain, which characteristically features abnormal accumulations of brain lesions called plaques and tangles that contribute to loss of function in healthy neurons. This research was funded by a 1.5-year, $465,000 Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant received in September 2004 from the National Institutes of Health (NIH),
More than 6 million Americans are living post-stroke2, many of whom are coping with long-term disabilities as a result of brain damage. When brain cells die during a stroke, abilities controlled by the affected area of the brain are lost. These abilities may include speech, movement and memory. The nature and severity of the dysfunction is dependent on the location of the lost cells within the brain and the extent of the injury.
We believe that neural stem cell transplantation has the potential to aid in the recovery of neurological function following a stroke. To date, we have conducted preliminary studies in collaboration with Raphael Guzman, MD and Gary Steinberg, MD, PhD, both professors of Neurosurgery at Stanford University School of Medicine, demonstrating that our human neural stem cells enhance functional recovery after stroke in rats. Specifically, the transplanted cells have shown increased neovascularization and blood-brain barrier integrity when compared with a control (non-transplanted) group. Enhancing blood vessel development and stability after stroke has been demonstrated to improve outcome in animal models and could potentially be one of the ways in which our neural stem cells might provide benefit as therapeutic agents.