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Doernbecher researchers to study effectiveness of stem cell transplant in human brain

Researchers in Doernbecher Children's Hospital at Oregon Health & Science University will begin a Phase I clinical trial using stem cells in infants and children with a rare neurodegenerative disorder that affects infants and children. The groundbreaking trial will test whether HuCNS-SC(TM), a proprietary human central nervous stem cell product developed by StemCells, Inc. is safe, and whether it can slow the progression of two forms of neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (NCL), a devastating disease that is always fatal. NCL is part of a group of disorders often referred to as Batten disease.

"NCL is a heartbreaking and devastating diagnosis for children and their families," said Robert D. Steiner, M.D., F.A.A.P., F.A.C.M.G., vice chairman of pediatric research, head of the Division of Metabolism and the study's principal investigator at Doernbecher Children's Hospital, OHSU. Steiner also is an associate professor of pediatrics, and molecular and medical genetics in the OHSU School of Medicine. "While the preclinical research in the laboratory and in animals is promising, it is important to note that this is a safety trial and, to our knowledge, purified neural stem cell transplantation has never been done before. It is our hope that stem cells will provide an important therapeutic advance for these children who have no other viable options."

NCL is caused by mutations or changes in the genes responsible for teaching the body how to make certain enzymes. Without these enzymes or proteins, material builds up inside brain neurons and other brain cells, causing a rapidly progressive decline in mental and motor function, blindness, seizures and early death. This study addresses two forms of NCL: infantile neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (INCL) and late-infantile neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (LINCL). Tragically, children with INCL typically die before age 5 and those with LINCL typically do not live past age 12.

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Contact: Tamara Hargens
hargenst@ohsu.edu
503-494-8231
Oregon Health & Science University
10-Mar-2006


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