Cell-based technologies for Huntington's disease
Mônica Santoro Haddad1; Cristiane Valverde Wenceslau2; Celine Pompeia3; Irina Kerkis4
keywords: Huntington's disease, stem cells, safety issues, cell therapy.
Huntington's disease (HD) is a fatal genetic disorder, which causes the progressive breakdown of neurons in the human brain. HD deteriorates human physical and mental abilities over time and has no cure. Stem cell-based technologies are promising novel treatments, and in HD, they aim to replace lost neurons and/or to prevent neural cell death. Herein we discuss the use of human fetal tissue (hFT), neural stem cells (NSCs) of hFT origin or embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (IPSCs), in clinical and pre-clinical studies. The in vivo use of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), which are derived from non-neural tissues, will also be discussed. All these studies prove the potential of stem cells for transplantation therapy in HD, demonstrating cell grafting and the ability to differentiate into mature neurons, resulting in behavioral improvements. We claim that there are still many problems to overcome before these technologies become available for HD patient treatment, such as: a) safety regarding the use of NSCs and pluripotent stem cells, which are potentially teratogenic; b) safety regarding the transplantation procedure itself, which represents a risk and needs to be better studied; and finally c) technical and ethical issues regarding cells of fetal and embryonic origin.