July 17, 2012
StemCells Announces Its Human Neural Stem Cells Restore Memory in Models of Alzheimer’s Disease
StemCells, Inc. (STEM), today announced preclinical data demonstrating that its proprietary human neural stem cells restored memory and enhanced synaptic function in two animal models relevant to Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The data was presented today at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2012 in Vancouver, Canada.
The study results showed that transplanting the cells into a specific region of the brain, the hippocampus, statistically increased memory in two different animal models. The hippocampus is critically important to the control of memory and is severely impacted by the pathology of AD. Specifically, hippocampal synaptic density is reduced in AD and correlates with memory loss. The researchers observed increased synaptic density and improved memory post transplantation. Importantly, these results did not require reduction in beta amyloid or tau that accumulate in the brains of patients with AD and account for the pathological hallmarks of the disease.
The research was conducted in collaboration with a world-renowned leader in AD, Frank LaFerla, Ph.D., Director of the University of California, Irvine (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. Matthew Blurton-Jones, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Neurobiology and Behavior at UCI, presented the study results.
“This is the first time human neural stem cells have been shown to have a significant effect on memory,” said Dr. LaFerla. “While AD is a diffuse disorder, the data suggest that transplanting these cells into the hippocampus might well benefit patients with Alzheimer’s. We believe the outcomes in these two animal models provide strong rationale to study this approach in the clinic and we wish to thank the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine for the support it has given this promising research.”
Stephen Huhn, M.D., FACS, FAAP, Vice President and Head of the CNS Program at StemCells, added, “While reducing beta amyloid and tau burden is a major focus in AD research, our data is intriguing because we obtained improved memory without a reduction in either of these pathologies. AD is a complex and challenging disorder. The field would benefit from the pursuit of a diverse range of treatment approaches and our neural stem cells now appear to offer a unique and viable contribution in the battle against this devastating disease.”
About Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, fatal neurodegenerative disorder that results in loss of memory and cognitive function. Today there is no cure or effective treatment option for patients afflicted by Alzheimer’s disease. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, approximately 5.4 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, including nearly half of people aged 85 and older. The prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease is expected to increase rapidly as a result of the country’s aging population.
About StemCells, Inc.
StemCells, Inc. is engaged in the research, development, and commercialization of cell-based therapeutics and tools for use in stem cell-based research and drug discovery. The Company’s lead therapeutic product candidate, HuCNS-SC(R) cells (purified human neural stem cells), is currently in development as a potential treatment for a broad range of central nervous system disorders. In a Phase I clinical trial in Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease (PMD), a fatal myelination disorder in children, the Company has shown preliminary evidence of progressive and durable donor-derived myelination in all four patients transplanted with HuCNS-SC cells. The Company is also conducting a Phase I/II clinical trial in chronic spinal cord injury in Switzerland and recently reported positive interim safety data for the first patient cohort. The Company has also initiated a Phase I/II clinical trial in dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and is pursuing preclinical studies in Alzheimer’s disease. StemCells also markets stem cell research products, including media and reagents, under the SC Proven(R) brand. Further information about StemCells is available at http://www.stemcellsinc.com.
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