Can Transplanted Neuronal Progenitor Cells Develop into Functioning Neurons

Released: 12/1/2010 3:45 PM EST
Embargo expired: 12/7/2010 9:00 AM EST
Source: American Epilepsy Society (AES)

Newswise — Epilepsy research is reaching beyond improving the means for quelling symptoms to the exploration of potential modalities for correcting or reversing alterations in neural function that underlay some forms of the disorder. In research reported at the 64th American Epilepsy Society (AES) Annual Meeting, investigators at the University of Florida have demonstrated that adult human neuronal progenitor cells (AHNPs) generate functional neurons that integrate into host neuronal networks in the cerebral cortex.

The research team, led by Dr. Steven Roper, the Edward Shedd Wells Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Florida, obtained neuronal progenitors from brain tissue removed in the surgical treatment of a 13-year-old female with temporal lobe epilepsy. The progenitors were then transplanted into the neocortex of newborn experimental animals where they were allowed to develop. The electrical function of the AHNP-derived (human) neurons was then recorded 17 – 21 days after transplantation and compared to host (animal) neurons in the same tissue layer. (Abstract 3.013)

There was no significant difference in the firing properties, spontaneous excitatory and inhibitory currents of the AHNP-derived neurons compared to the neighboring host neurons.

“Our results suggest that ANHP-derived neurons are able to generate functional neurons that integrate into host neuronal networks,” the researchers report. “This provides promising data on the potential of AHNPs to serve as an effective treatment in epilepsy and other disorders with altered neuronal circuitry.”

This research was supported by a Challenge Grant Award to S. Roper from Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy (CURE). Additional studies will be needed first. to confirm these results, and then to test the potential of AHNPs in animal models of epilepsy before studies in humans can begin

Editors Note: Authors of this study will be available for a press briefing on Tuesday, December 7 at 8:30 am in the press room, Room 101B, of the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center. To join by phone Dial in on 1-866-740-1260; PIN 5867508#

About Epilepsy
Epilepsy affects 50 million people worldwide, including three million in the United States. The disorder can have a single specific, well-defined cause, such as a head injury, or manifest as a syndrome with a complex of signs and symptoms. It is the third most common neurological disorder after Alzheimer’s disease and stroke.

About the American Epilepsy Society (AES)
The American Epilepsy Society, based in West Hartford, CT, seeks to advance and improve the treatment of epilepsy through the promotion of epilepsy research and education for healthcare professionals. Society membership includes physicians and scientists who study and treatment of epilepsy (epileptologists) and allied professionals who care for people with seizure disorders.

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