Bone Marrow Stem Cell Delivery of GDNF in MPTP Mice

Lee Anna Cunningham, Ph.D.
University of New Mexico Health Science Center, New Mexico


Glial-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) is a neuroprotective and restorative substance that does not cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB). Dr. Lee Anna Cunningham (University of New Mexico, Albuquerque) will study bone-marrow transplantation using this peptide in mice with experimental Parkinson's disease. If successful, the procedure may one day be used to implant marrow stem cells carrying this and/or other trophic factors in human patients to prevent neuron damage. While such success would not be a cure, it could slow disease progression.

Progress Report (as of 3/2003)

Many scientists are seeking alternative tissue sources for cells that can be induced into becoming dopaminergic for transplantation purposes. One popular possibility today is bone-marrow-derived progenitor cells. Dr. Lee Anna Cunningham and her group (University of New Mexico School of Medicine) have used their funding to test the usefulness of such cells transplanted into MPTO-parkinsonian mice, first to determine that the cells are accepted by the animal's brains, then to learn what they become and how far they migrate within the brains. It is hooped, of course, that good results in such very early studies can one day be translated into successful therapy for human patients.