Human brain stem cells transplanted into primates survive, differentiate

A team of researchers in Korea who transplanted human neural stem cells (hNSCs) into the brains of nonhuman primates and assessed cell survival and differentiation after 22 and 24 months found that the hNSCs had differentiated into neurons at 24 months and did not cause tumors.

The study will be published in a future issue of Cell Transplantation but is currently freely available on-line as an unedited early e-pub.

The hNSCs were labeled with magnetic nanoparticles to enable them to be followed by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). They did not use immunosuppressants. According to the researchers, their study is the first to evaluate and show the long-term survival and differentiation of hNSCs without the need for immunosuppression.

The researchers concluded that hNSCs could be of “great value” as a source for cell replacement and gene transfer for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), spinal cord injury and stroke.

“Stroke is the fourth major cause of death in the US behind heart failure, cancer, and lower respiratory disease,” said study co-author Dr. Seung U. Kim of University of British Columbia Hospital’s department of neurology in Canada. “While tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) treatment within three hours after a stroke has shown good outcomes, stem cell therapy has the potential to address the treatment needs of those stroke patients for whom tPA treatment was unavailable or did not help.”

Dr. Kim and colleagues in Korea grafted magnetic particle-labeled hNSCs into the brains of laboratory primates and evaluated their performance to assess their survival and differentiation over 24 months. Of particular interest was determining their ability to differentiate into neurons and to determine whether the cells caused tumorogenesis.

“We injected hNSCs into the frontal lobe and the putamen of the monkey brain because they are included in the middle cerebral artery (MCA) territory, which is the main target in the development of the ischemic lesion in animal stroke models,” commented Dr. Kim. “Thus, research on survival and differentiation of hNSCs in the MCA territory should provide more meaningful information to cell transplantation in the MCA occlusion stroke model.”

The researchers said that they chose NSCs for transplantation because the existence of multipotent NSCs “has been known in developing rodents and in the human brain with the properties of indefinite growth and multipotent potential to differentiate” into the three major CNS cell types – neurons, astrocytes and oligodendrocytes.

“The results of this study serve as a proof-of-principle and provide evidence that hNSCs transplanted into the non-human primate brain in the absence of immunosuppressants can survive and differentiate into neurons,” wrote the researchers. “The study also serves as a preliminary study in our planned preclinical studies of hNSC transplantation in non-human primate stroke models.”

“The absence of tumors and differentiation of the transplanted cells into neurons in the absence of immunosuppression after transplantation into non-human primates provides hope that such a therapy could be applicable for use in humans.” said Dr. Cesar V. Borlongan, Prof. of Neurosurgery and Director of the Center of Excellence for Aging & Brain Repair at the University of South Florida. “This is an encouraging study towards the use of NSCs to treat neurodegenerative disorders.”

The material in this press release comes from the originating research organization. Content may be edited for style and length. Have a question? Let us know.


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5 thoughts on “Human brain stem cells transplanted into primates survive, differentiate”

  1. I found this article very interesting and astonishing especially for the fact that these studies have been a success and that the primates did not need any immunosuppressions for the sells to differentiate. It just gives the whole science comunity hope for further studies in this field, studies that could help people with tumours in the future. We are always being told how close our DNA is with the DNA of primates but a study like this gives us even more proof for this statement. I have a lot off hope in the further studies in this field, hoping that it will one day be a valuable asset in the medical field.

  2. This article was definitely thought-provoking, and as a result individuals looking at the research from a science perspective would regard this as a verification of evolution. In the article it is shown that the DNA of primates are almost identical to that of humans. Therefore, it is possible to benefit from studies and research being performed on primates. Using primates as a tool for the research and study of stem cells is more valuable that model organisms, as primates provide exclusive intuition that cannot be considered in proletariat organisms.

    Additionally, primates bid convenience for disease research that could not be offered by investigation of disease in humans. For example, the use of primates is said to be more beneficial because their demeanor is more complicated, so answers found would be closer than what would be found in humans.

    Not only is it shown that research is advancing, but nanotechnology as well. During the research nanotechnology was used to extract the result that were required. It is therefore safe to say that science in general is advancing and the human race is leading towards perfection

  3. I find this article very interesting,there have been studies with transplantation before with different species involved and none have worked with positive results.This transplantation of human brain stem cells has been a success, the primates brains have accepted the stem cells and have not had any side affects.The possibility that in the future we could replace damaged stem cells will be amazing,it can be used to treat so many diseases and also people who have had a stroke have been treated but some do not receive treatment or in other cases treatment does not work this research would provide an alternative treatment.This really is an amazing breakthrough.

  4. This was a very interesting and excellent read. The amount of research and dedication that went into this type of study is phenomenal. The amount of time and precision that went to transplanting the human neural stem cells (hNSCs) just shows how important this study was and that it could be the key to human survival from many fatal diseases.

    They mention that without the use or absence of immunosuppressants, the hNSCs transplanted into non-human primate’s brain can differentiate into neurons and thus can be applicable to human use at a later stage. If this is one of the most important study breakthroughs in medicine, why are they not taking the necessary precautions by using immunosuppressants so that the body does not reject the new neural human cells?

    The fascinating thing to me is how the world has advanced so much that they can find ways as to treat or even cure the many harmful and fatal diseases to humans through nanotechnology using nanoparticles. The world of science has become such a great and important key to the survival of humans.

  5. I find this article fascinating as once again we see how similar human DNA must be to that of other primates that they can so easily accept human neural stem cells and use it to grow their own functioning neurons without the use of immunosuppressants.
    I equally find fascinating the major research going into stem cells; from growing new organs now to treating diseases of the brain! How incredible would it be if we could cure Alzheimer’s disease, which is now effecting people as young as 40 years old, and have a chance to have our grandparents continue to enjoy life with us. I will be eagerly awaiting the results from when this treatment is used on humans as it will be incredible if it were to be a success.
    I do wonder however, if there are any side effects or should I rather say advantages to these primates such as a heightened intelligence due to the use of human DNA. That could also be a potentially interesting study to perform.


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