February 28, 2007
Tulane University gene therapy researcher Donald G. Phinney will receive $2.1 million from the National Institutes of Health over a four-year period to study the therapeutic use of adult stem cells in diseases of the central nervous system. The research will take place at the Tulane National Primate Research Center.
The work may lead to improved therapies for treating neurological effects of lysosomal storage diseases, which are inherited monogenic diseases that often lead to neurological dysfunction, mental retardation and early death. According to national estimates, one in 5000 births have some form of storage disease.
There are over 50 types of lysosomal storage diseases described in humans. Approximately half of these diseases cause progressive mental deterioration for which there is no treatment currently available, says Phinney.
Phinney's research employs mesenchymal stem cells, a type of adult stem cell found in the bone marrow that has shown potential for treating a wide variety of maladies including vascular, chronic inflammatory and neurological diseases.
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