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Neural transplantation for Huntington's disease

Transplanted foetal neurons can improve human brain activity in patients with Huntington's disease.

Tudor Toma(ttoma@mail.dntis.ro)

Three patients with Huntington's disease who received a transplant of human foetal brain cells showed functional, motor and cognitive improvements one year after the operation, according to a preliminary study published on the Lancet's website (available in print on 9 December; Lancet 2000 356:1975-1979).

Huntington's disease is a genetic neurodegenerative disease that affects the area of the brain called the striatum. Dr Marc Peschanski and colleagues from INSERM, Paris, grafted human foetal nerve cells into the right striatum and, after a year, into the left striatum. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) with fluorine-18-labelled fluorodeoxyglucose were performed repeatedly after the operation. These tests showed increased metabolic activity in various subnuclei of the striatum in three out of five patients, suggesting that grafts were functional.

The increased metabolic activity was consistent with an improvement in attention and executive functions, neurophysiological tests and a reduction of bradykinesia and...

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