Stem Cell Therapy as a Treatment for Lewy Body Dementia

Researchers here demonstrate a stem cell therapy that produces improvements in a mouse model for dementia with Lewy bodies, a common form of neurodegenerative condition in which the mechanisms and progression overlap with those of Parkinson's disease to some degree. This looks like a compensatory therapy, partially restoring some of the lapse in necessary function in the brain that occurs due to damage without actually addressing the damage itself. In that it is an incremental improvement in the present mainstream approach to therapies for age-related disease, but still cannot possibly be as effective as approaches that succeed in repairing the damage. In synucleinopathies like dementia with Lewy bodies, that most likely means the development of methods to safely clear alpha-synuclein aggregates from brain tissues:

Neural stem cells transplanted into damaged brain sites in mice dramatically improved both motor and cognitive impairments associated with dementia with Lewy bodies. DLB is the second-most common type of age-related dementia after Alzheimer's disease and is characterized by the accumulation of a protein called alpha-synuclein that collects into spherical masses called Lewy bodies - which also accumulate in related disorders, including Parkinson's disease. This pathology, in turn, impairs the normal function of neurons, leading to alterations in critical brain chemicals and neuronal communication and, eventually, to cell death.

The researchers transplanted mouse neural stem cells into genetically modified mice exhibiting many of the key features of DLB. One month later, the mice were retested on a variety of behavioral tasks, and significant gains in both motor and cognitive function were observed. The researchers examined the effects of the stem cells on brain pathology and circuitry connecting neurons. They found that functional improvements required the production of a specific growth factor - called brain-derived neurotrophic factor - by neural stem cells. The team examined two of the key brain structures that become dysfunctional in DLB - dopamine- and glutamate-making neurons - to determine how BDNF might drive recovery. "Our experiments revealed that neural stem cells can enhance the function of both dopamine-and glutamate-producing neurons, coaxing the brain cells to connect and communicate more appropriately. This, in turn, facilitates the recovery of both motor and cognitive function."

To further confirm the importance of BDNF in these effects, the researchers modified the stem cells so that they could no longer produce the growth factor. When these modified cells were transplanted, they failed to improve behavioral function and no longer enhanced dopamine and glutamate signaling. Testing the possibility that BDNF alone might be an effective treatment, the researchers used a virus to deliver the growth factor to the brains of DLB mice. They found that this treatment resulted in good recovery of motor skills in the test rodents but only limited recovery of cognitive function. This suggests that while BDNF is critical to stem cell-mediated motor and cognitive recovery, it does not achieve this outcome alone.

Link: http://news.uci.edu/research/stem-cell-treatment-lessens-impairments-caused-by-dementia-with-lewy-bodies/

Comments

It looks like a repair strategy to me and would be more effective if they identify the other element, possibly H factor to remove build up?

Posted by: Steve H at October 19th, 2015 8:26 AM

I do not think that it is repair strategy as the study done on stem cell therapy for Alzheimer's disease stated "cognitive function is improved without altering Aß or tau pathology. Instead, the mechanism underlying the improved cognition involves a robust enhancement of hippocampal synaptic density." However low dose nilotinib is a repair strategy as it promotes autophagic degradation of α-synuclein. Misfolded α-synuclein is the major component of Lewy bodies in Lewy Body Dementia and Parkinson's disease.

Posted by: Santi at October 20th, 2015 12:10 AM

Can I be a test subject for and for free.

Posted by: Gilbert Ehret at May 9th, 2016 1:41 PM

Count me in.

Posted by: Ralph Timpson at June 15th, 2016 4:23 PM

Can you please tell me if my 68 year old husband needs any kind of donor. .in stem cell treatment?

Posted by: janey kirk at July 4th, 2016 7:50 PM

Where are treatments like this being done? I have a brother, age 62, with LBD.

Posted by: Tom F. Hermansader at January 8th, 2017 8:33 AM

Are they conducting on humans, if so where ?

Posted by: D.L. at January 12th, 2017 6:00 PM

I have a 79 year old father that has been diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia. My mom just passed away after having Alzheimer's for 12 years. I would love for my dad to be able to get out of the nursing home and enjoy life for a few more years. He took care of my mom for 11 of the 12 years after she was diagnosed. If there is something out there that we can try, I'd like him to have the opportunity.

Posted by: Vickie Wenzler at May 4th, 2017 9:57 PM

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