Transplanted hematopoietic stem cells reverse damage caused by neuro-muscular disorder

Researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine report that a single infusion of wildtype hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) into a mouse model of Friedreich's ataxia (FA) measurably halted cellular damage caused by the degenerative disease. The findings, published online in the October 25 issue of Science Translational Medicine, suggest a potential therapeutic approach for a disease that currently is considered incurable.

Friedreich's ataxia is an inherited, degenerative neuromuscular disorder that initially impairs motor function, such as gait and coordination, but can lead to scoliosis, heart disease, vision loss and diabetes. Cognitive function is not affected. The disease is progressively debilitating, and ultimately requires full-time use of a wheelchair. One in 50,000 Americans has FA.

FA is caused by reduced expression of a mitochondrial protein called frataxin (FXN) due to a two mutated or abnormal copies of the FXN gene. In their study, Stephanie Cherqui, PhD, associate professor in the UC San Diego School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics, and colleagues used a transgenic mouse model that expresses two mutant human FXN transgenes, and exhibits the resulting progressive neurological degeneration and muscle weakness.

Human hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs), derived from bone marrow, have become a primary vehicle for efforts to replace or regenerate cells destroyed by a variety of diseases. Previous research by Cherqui and colleagues had shown that transplanting wildtype or normal mouse HSPCs resulted in long-term kidney, eye and thyroid preservation in a mouse model of cystinosis, another genetic disorder.

In this study, Cherqui's team transplanted wildtype HSPCs into an FA mouse model, reporting that the HSPCs engrafted and soon differentiated into macrophages in key regions of the mice's brain and spinal cord where they appeared to transfer wildtype FXN into deficient neurons and muscle cells.

"Transplantation of wildtype mouse HSPCs essentially rescued FA-impacted cells," said Cherqui, "Frataxin expression was restored. Mitochondrial function in the brains of the transgenic mice normalized, as did in the heart. There was also decreased skeletal muscle atrophy."

The scientists note that the mouse model is not perfect mirror of human FA. Disease progression is somewhat different and the precise pathology in mice is not fully known. However, Cherqui said the findings are encouraging and point toward a potential treatment for a disease that currently has none.

Celine J Rocca, Spencer M Goodman, Jennifer N Dulin, Joseph H Haquang, Ilya Gertsman, Jordan Blondelle, Janell LM Smith, Charles J Heyser, Stephanie Cherqui.
Transplantation of wild-type mouse hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells ameliorates deficits in a mouse model of Friedreich's ataxia.
Science Translational Medicine, Vol. 9, Issue 413, eaaj2347. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aaj2347

Most Popular Now

Imfinzi is the first immunotherapy to demonstrate …

AstraZeneca and MedImmune, its global biologics research and development arm, have presented data on overall survival (OS) in the Phase III PACIFIC trial of Imfinzi durin...

Sandoz Healthcare Access Challenge #SandozHACk ret…

Sandoz, the Novartis generics and biosimilars division, today announces the launch of the second Sandoz Healthcare Access Challenge (HACk). The #SandozHACk is a global co...

Global survey reveals that physicians need more in…

Results from a new global survey revealed that more than one-third (36%) of the 310 physicians surveyed do not think they have sufficient information required to make inf...

In clinical trials, new antibody therapy controls …

Thanks to improvements in antiretroviral therapy, HIV is now a manageable condition. Yet even the best drugs do not entirely eliminate the virus, which latently lingers i...

Novartis licenses three novel anti-infective progr…

Novartis announced today that it has entered into a licensing and equity agreement with Boston Pharmaceuticals for the development of three novel anti-infective drug cand...

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2018 was…

Cancer kills millions of people every year and is one of humanity's greatest health challenges. By stimulating the inherent ability of our immune system to attack tumor c...

Pfizer to award more than $3 million in grants to …

Pfizer Inc. today announced the recipients of the Advancing Science through Pfizer Investigator Research Exchange (ASPIRE) Breast Cancer Research Awards. Four grants tota...

FDA approves first treatment for advanced form of …

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Libtayo (cemiplimab-rwlc) injection for intravenous use for the treatment of patients with metastatic cutaneous squam...

FDA awards 12 grants to fund new clinical trials t…

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today announced that it has awarded 12 new clinical trial research grants totaling more than $18 million over the next four years to...

DNA islands effective as 'anti-bacterial drones'

Genomic "islands" that evolved from viruses can be converted into "drones" that disable Staphylococcus aureus, bacteria that are often resistant to antibiotics and pose a...

Addressing social and cultural drivers of type 2 d…

New research shows healthcare services and public health strategies aimed at reducing the burden of type 2 diabetes may prove ineffective, unless they address social and ...

Evidence mounts linking aspirin to lower risk of o…

Taking a low-dose aspirin daily may help women lower their risk of developing ovarian cancer. A new study co-led by Moffitt Cancer Center found that women who reported ta...