BrainStorm Cell Therapeutics Inc. (OTCBB: BCLI), a leading developer of adult stem cell technologies and therapeutics, announced today that intramuscular transplantation of autologous, astrocyte-like cells that produce and secrete neurotrophic factors (NTFs), representing the company’s NuOwn™ technology platform, preserved motor function, significantly inhibited the degeneration of the neuromuscular junctions (NMJs), and preserved the myelinated motor axons in an animal sciatic nerve injury model. Results of the study appear in the online edition of the journal Stem Cell Reviews and Reports.
“The findings from this study demonstrating that BrainStorm’s autologous NurOwn™ stem cell therapy can alleviate signs of sciatic nerve injury is an important milestone for the company,” said Chaim Lebovits, President of BrainStorm. “One of the major caveats of stem cell transplantation is the fate of the transplanted cells. In the current study, we show that our transplanted cells can integrate and survive in the host muscles of animals after sciatic nerve crush for at least 3 weeks. This preclinical work provides additional support for the upcoming Phase 1 clinical trial of NurOwn™ for patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and other neurological disorders.”
In a study conducted at Tel Aviv University, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) isolated from the femurs and tibias of adult rats were developed into NurOwn™ using a two-step medium based differentiating protocol to induce the MSCs into NTF secreting cells. These cells produce and release high amounts of NTFs, such as glial derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) and brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). The NTF secreting cells (NurOwn™) were labeled with superparamagnetic iron oxide (SPIO) to enable tracking of surviving cells following injection into the muscles of the right hind limb 24-hours after sciatic nerve crush.
Four days after transplantation, there was a statistically significant beneficial effect on the motor function in the NurOwn™ treated animals compared to the control rats, which did not receive cell transplants, or rats transplanted with non-differentiated MSCs. The high compound muscle action potential and low latency indices recorded in the hind limb muscles of NurOwn™ treated animals provided evidence that NurOwn™ preserved the myelinated motor axons and innervated peripheral muscles. Histology of the animal’s hind limb muscles 3-weeks after transplantation revealed significant amount of pre-labeled NurOwn™ cells and high levels of BDNF in the muscles.