Many thousands of Indians will die this year of Huntington’s, a deadly, inherited disease that kills its victims within 15 years of diagnosis. So far, Huntington patients had no hope of checking the deadly march of this disease. Now at last there is something to cheer about: under study for the first time is a stem cell-based a therapy that could slow down this killer. Huntington’s causes uncontrollable movements and mental decline and finally death.
“Unfortunately, it is a fatal disease,” says Vicki Wheelock, M.D., Neurologist, Health Sciences Clinical Professor of Neurology and Director of HDSA Center of Excellence at UC Davis. In the new study researchers will inject special bone marrow stem cells directly into the brains of a human trial group of patients. “These cells are engineered to produce a growth factor that stimulates the growth of neurons,” explains Jan Nolta, Ph.D., professor and director of the Institute for Regenerative Cures at UC Davis.