Human neural stem cells proprietary to StemCells, Inc. have been used in a Stanford University study in a preclinical stroke model.
In an article published yesterday in the early on-line edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS), authors from Stanford University described the results of the study, conducted by Drs. Kelly and Bliss under the direction of Gary Steinberg, M.D., Ph.D., Chairman Department of Neurosurgery; Co-Director, Stanford Stroke Center. Nobuko Uchida, Ph.D., StemCells Vice President, Stem Cell Biology, is also an author on the paper.
Study results showed that the transplanted cells are capable of surviving in the brain of immunosuppressed stroked rats. The human cells migrate as immature neurons preferentially towards the stroke lesion. The results confirmed the findings of a pilot study presented in November 2002, at the 32nd Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience.
"We continue to be encouraged by the performance of our human cells in animal models," said Martin McGlynn, CEO StemCells Inc. "However, there are many questions still to be answered. While these results are a further testimony to the robustness of our human cells, we do not yet know whether we have a good animal model for stroke in humans. We must recognize that, in this experiment, the human cells were transplanted into a different species, in the presence of profound trauma, complicated by large doses of immunosuppressant drugs. These factors make it difficult to judge the extent to which similar, better or worse results would be obtained in a model that is more comparable to the human condition. Our own transplant experiments to date have been conducted in NOD-Scid mice, a special strain without an immune system. This eliminates one of the confounding variables, but unfortunately, there is no NOD-Scid stroke model available at this time. As previously announced, the first clinical evaluation of our human neural stem cells is targeted to begin in 2005, to evaluate the safety and efficacy of these cells in the treatment of Batten disease, an always fatal neurodegenerative lysosomal storage disease. The preclinical data supporting this decision was previously obtained in the Batten-NOD-Scid mouse model."