Scientists at the University of California Davis’ Institute for Regenerative Cures are utilizing mesenchymal stem cells [the same type of stem cells found in teeth] to develop a new therapy that targets the genetic abnormality in Huntington’s disease. The principal investigator of the study, and the director of UC Davis stem cell program and the UC Davis Institute for Regenerative Cures, Jan Nolta said, “Our team has made a breakthrough that gives families affected by this disease hope that genetic therapy may one day become a reality.” The treatment seeks to address the root cause of the disease as opposed to merely mitigating the symptoms of the disease.
Scientists in the US (UC, UCSD) and China (Wuhan) have found a way to convert stem cells into functional neurons. The researchers were able to suppress an RNA-binding protein, inducing the stem cells to become neurons. This gives hope for a treatment for neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington’s, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis, and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease), which will afflict one in four Americans over their lifetime.
Dr. Peter Donovan, Dr. Hans Keirstead, Dr. Aileen Anderson, Dr. Brian Cummings, Dr. Frank LaFerla, Dr. Leslie M. Thompson, and Dr. Matthew Blurton-Jones of UC Irvine discuss the importance of stem cells and the current research taking place within their labs.