MAY 11, 2018 6:39 AM PDT

Successful Neural Stem Cell Therapy Without Immunosuppression

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker

Neural stem cells designed to be identical to the host they were derived from are the newest hope for scientists in transplantation medicine, specifically for restoring tissues damaged by a spinal cord injury. From the University of California - San Diego, scientists show how they successfully transplanted such cells into pigs, which are similar to humans in the context of the central nervous system.

A population of induced pluripotent stem cell-derived neurons. Credit: UC San Diego Health

Designing custom neural stem cells from genetically different donors can be difficult. Like any transplantation, inserting foreign cells carries a risk of the host immune system attacking the cells, causing a system-wide inflammatory response.

Giving a transplant patient immunosuppressive drugs prior to the transplantation may reduce the risk of tissue rejection, but the prescription also delivers all the risks that come with suppressing the immune system: leaving the body vulnerable to infections from bacteria, viruses, and parasites.

In their new study, UCSD scientists successfully designed neural precursor cells from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). Senior author Martin Marsala, MD, lauds human iPSCs as the “ultimate source of cells to be used in future clinical trials for treatment of spinal cord and central nervous system injuries in a syngeneic or allogeneic setting.”

Researchers implanted the neural cells into the spinal cords of genetically identical adult pigs without applying any immunosuppressive drugs, and they observed long-term, cancer-free survival. Not only did the cells survive, but they also differentiated into neurons and supporting glial cells needed to rebuild damaged tissue.

Marsala and the others saw similar positive results in adult pigs with different genetic backgrounds. These pigs also had chronic spinal cord injuries, unlike the genetically identical pigs who were not injured.

"Using RNA sequencing and innovative bioinformatic methods to deconvolute the RNA's species-of-origin, the research team demonstrated that pig iPSC-derived neural precursors safely acquire the genetic characteristics of mature CNS tissue even after transplantation into rat brains,” explained co-author Samuel Pfaff, PhD.

"We took skin cells from an adult pig, an animal species with strong similarities to humans in spinal cord and central nervous system anatomy and function, reprogrammed them back to stem cells, then induced them to become neural precursor cells (NPCs), destined to become nerve cells,” Marsala explained. “Because they are syngeneic - genetically identical with the cell-graft recipient pig - they are immunologically compatible. They grow and differentiate with no immunosuppression required."

The present study was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Source: University of California - San Diego

About the Author
  • I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
MAY 19, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
Can Chinese Drug Cure COVID-19 Without Vaccine?
MAY 19, 2020
Can Chinese Drug Cure COVID-19 Without Vaccine?
Researchers at China’s Peking University have announced that they are developing a treatment capable of blocking C ...
MAY 23, 2020
Microbiology
The FDA Yanks Some COVID-19 Antibody Tests From the Market
MAY 23, 2020
The FDA Yanks Some COVID-19 Antibody Tests From the Market
The massive demand for diagnostic testing led the FDA to open a short window for many testing products to go to market w ...
JUN 23, 2020
Immunology
Nanosponges Mop up Viruses to Treat COVID Infections
JUN 23, 2020
Nanosponges Mop up Viruses to Treat COVID Infections
  Scientists have developed an experimental therapy for COVID-19 that uses coated nanoparticles to intercept SARS-C ...
JUN 19, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
Learning More About How Cells Control a Death Pathway
JUN 19, 2020
Learning More About How Cells Control a Death Pathway
Scientists have published complementary studies in Nature Communications that have greatly advanced our understanding of ...
JUL 19, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
Study Finds Turmeric has Antiviral Effects
JUL 19, 2020
Study Finds Turmeric has Antiviral Effects
Researchers from the Wuhan University of Engineering in China have found that curcumin, a natural compound found in turm ...
AUG 11, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
Scientists Discover Key Gene Behind Antibiotic Resistance
AUG 11, 2020
Scientists Discover Key Gene Behind Antibiotic Resistance
Scientists from Oxford University have shown that a single gene can make some strains of Staphylococcus aureus (the bact ...
Loading Comments...