Preclinical data demonstrates that stem cells restored memory and enhanced synaptic function in two animal models relevant to Alzheimer's disease (AD). The data was presented 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.
Researchers had previously discovered the ability of dental stem cells from monkeys to stimulate growth of neural cells. These dental pulp stem cells have already been used in previous regenerations of dental and craniofacial cells, but the latest research into the study of these adult stem cells reveals their potential to become other types of cells to cure a variety of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and an array of liver disorders.
Other recent studies
A recent study at Lund University in Sweden reveals the discovery of a type of stem cell that has the ability to differentiate into new brain tissue. This discovery introduces the possibility of finding ways to repair damage to the brain as a result of disease or injury. Researchers plan to use this study as a springboard for further studies in stem cell therapies to treat neural degenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
“Our findings show that the cell capacity is much larger than we originally thought, and that these cells are very versatile,” said Gesine Paul-Visse, an assoicate professor of neuroscience at Lund. ”Most interesting is their ability to form neuronal cells, but they can also be developed for other cell types.”
As stem cell research has come to the foreground of medical research at major universities worldwide, an understanding of stem cell therapies as an integral part of the future of medicine becomes more apparent. Ensuring one’s own access to these future therapies is an excellent and safe investment in your future health.
One of the most affordable and least invasive methods of stem cell preservation is by cryopreserving the stem cells found in the dental pulp of teeth, which can be easily acquired from both baby teeth and wisdom teeth.
To view an abstract of this research, click here.