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New tissue eases Huntington's disease.

New tissue eases Huntington's disease

University of Cincinnati researchers report that transplantingbrain tissue from healthy rat fetuses into rats with chemically induced Huntington's disease "can produce remarkable recovery of function of both locomotor and more complex psychological tasks.' The results confirm and extend earlier reports, which were more preliminary and narrower in scope, according to psychiatrist Paul R. Sanberg and his colleagues.

The investigators injected the rats' brains with normal cellsfrom the striatal portion of fetal brains. The striatum appears to be the primary site of disease in the brains of Huntington's victims. In this and other rat experiments, the striatum was substantially damaged--and Huntington's was simulated--by injections with kainic acid. Although previous work had established varying degrees of recovery with such transplants, the Cincinnati scientists performed several transplantations on each rat "in order to determine if more complete recovery of function than that previously found could be obtained.'

At three, six and nine weeks following the transplantinjections, the rats were tested on various motor and other activity measures. The results were compared with those of Huntington's diseased rats that received "sham' transplants of adult sciatic nerve and with those of healthy rats that also received sciatic transplants.

The researchers found that while the sham-transplant ratswith Huntington's remained "consistently hyperactive' during the nine-week testing period, "the hyperactivity exhibited by the striatal transplant group prior to transplantation decreased gradually following implants until they reached control levels nine weeks later.' And, when injected with amphetamines, the experimental rats did not display the "exaggerated' response of the sham transplant group. Other, more complex movements such as rearing up and rotation also appeared to improve in the transplanted rats.

Moreover, the researchers report, examination of the brainsfollowing the experiment revealed that "the striatal transplants reconstructed much of the gross morphology of the lesioned [damaged] striatum in recovered animals.'

"The present, preliminary findings,' they say, "confirm[previous] results and extend them by demonstrating that large fetal transplants can completely reverse some aspects of . . . locomotor activity in rats with large . . . striatal lesions.'
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Title Annotation:research on transplanting brain tissue from healthy to diseased rats
Publication:Science News
Date:May 23, 1987
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