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16 Sep 2016 249 Comments

Stem cells treat inherited movement disorder-Huntington’s disease

Director of the University of California Dr. Jan Nolta says, stem cells when inserted into the brain of patients suffering from Huntington’s disease look for damaged cells that need their help and begin to repair them.

Nearly, 2000 people are diagnosed with Huntington’s chorea annually in the United States alone. This is an inherited disease which does not require 2 chromosomal copies to be passed on, to cause the havoc, unlike the other common inherited diseases. This form of inherited movement disorder occurs as a single mutant gene, causing it to be inherited to off-springs with a 50-50 chance of developing it.

The Huntington gene repeats its faulty copy of nucleic acid 38 times or more and this protein that runs with wild repetition is called the Huntington or HTT.  This faulty protein damages a particular type of brain cells named as medium spiny neurons.

Healthy medium spiny neurons are shaped like a spider web and control all the movements, cognition and emotions with their extending axons in all directions. In the presence of HTT, the connection between cells is disrupted and the patient witnesses a dance like movement, hampered cognition and irrational behavior.

Dr. Nolta said that the only way to cease the disruption was through the use of mesenchymal stem cells. These stem cells help in restoring the synaptic connect that is plundered by HTT and also secretes neural growth factors to establish new connections.

Thus these stem cells can cause a drastic reduction in symptoms and thereby also prolong the survival rate in these patients. Animal studies have also shown the potency of mesenchymal stem cells to axe the HTT RNA.

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