PORTLAND, Ore., March 10 (UPI) -- Oregon scientists have been given the go-ahead to use human neural stem cells to combat an incurable brain disease that strikes young children.
A review committee at the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland Wednesday approved a clinical trial involving transplantation of neural "precursor" cells, a report in the Wall Street Journal said.
The neural cells, which can transform themselves into various types of brain and nerve tissue, will be injected directly into the brains of six children who suffer from a genetic disorder called Batten disease.
The children, ranging in age from 18 months to 12 years, lack an important enzyme in their brain tissue, the absence of which leads to progressive loss of motor control, seizures and, ultimately, death.
While the trial is designed primarily to study the safety of such therapy, it might also turn up evidence that the transplanted cells can produce enough of the missing enzyme to slow progression of the disease.