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September 2008 Off the Wire . . .



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Neural Cells Derived From Human Embryonic Stem Cells Reduce Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms

Main Category: Multiple Sclerosis
Article Date: 10 Sep 2008
Hadassah University Hospital and Hadasit, the technology transfer company of Hadassah Medical Organization, announced that scientists at Hadassah University Hospital have discovered a new application for human embryonic stem cells. They have demonstrated for the first time that transplanted neural cells derived from human embryonic stem cells can reduce the clinical symptoms in animals with a form of multiple sclerosis.

The findings of the study are published in an article titled "Neuroprotective Effect of Transplanted Human Embryonic Stem Cell-Derived Neural Precursors in an Animal Model of Multiple Sclerosis" in the Scientific Journal of PLoS One, a new, high-impact, peer-reviewed, open-access, online publication. Click here to access the article.

The data presented in the report are the result of a long-term collaboration between Professor Tamir Ben Hur, director of the Neurological Department at Hadassah Hospital and Professor Benjamin Reubinoff, director of the Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research Center at Hadassah Hospital. Ms. Michal Aharonowiz and Dr. Ofira Einstein both from Hadassah, as well as Professor Hans Lassmann from the University of Vienna also contributed.

"Human embryonic stem cell-derived neural precursors were transplanted into the brains of mice with an experimental form of MS. The grafted human cells integrated in the mice brains and migrated towards the sites of inflammation. They suppressed the inflammatory process in the brain, and consequently protected the animals from demyelination and nerve cell extension (axonal) injury, which are the pathological hallmarks of MS," said Professor Benjamin Reubinoff.

Multiple sclerosis, the most common cause of neurological disabilities in young adults, is caused by an inflammatory reaction of the patient's own immune system against the myelin sheath that envelops the nerve processes. The destruction of myelin leads to the degeneration and loss of nerve cells and permanent neurological disabilities. MS affects 2.5 million people worldwide.

"We believe that the encouraging therapeutic effects in the rodent model of MS justify moving ahead to clinical studies. We also anticipate that the anti-inflammatory effect demonstrated in the pre-clinical study may be combined in the future with the use of other human embryonic stem cell derived neural cells to repair the myelin in the brain," said Professor Reubinoff.

Cell Cure Neurosciences, a Hadasit BioHoldings Ltd (TASE:HDST) company focused on the development of cells derived from human embryonic stem cells for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, has started a translational research program that will lead to clinical trials in MS patients. The study will take place at the new Clinical Research Center at Hadassah and is anticipated to start recruiting patients for baseline studies within the next year.

Cell Cure Neurosciences CEO Charles Irving, PhD, will be making a presentation on stem cell research in Israel at the upcoming 2008 World Stem Cell Summit in Madison, Wisconsin at the Alliant Energy Center on September 22nd at 11 a.m.

About Hadasit BioHoldings Ltd. and Hadasit

Hadasit BioHoldings is the publicly traded subsidiary of Hadasit, the Technology Transfer Company of Hadassah Medical Organization (HMO) in Jerusalem, Israel, which promotes and commercializes HMO's continuously generated intellectual property (IP) and R&D capabilities. IP generated by HMO has already gained global recognition due to Hadasit's successful enterprising of Hadassah's biomedical technology, including novel therapeutics, diagnostics and devices.

Hadasit BioHoldings Ltd.

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