Skip to main content
UC Davis Stem Cell Program

UC Davis Stem Cell Program

Huntington's Disease Research

Jan Nolta. Copyright UC Davis Health System
Jan Nolta

Jan A. Nolta, director of the UC Davis stem cell program and the UC Davis Institute for Regenerative Cures, is moving forward with groundbreaking plans to use mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) as delivery agents for two potential treatments for Huntington’s disease, BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor) and RNA interference. Last year, Nolta and Vicki Wheelock, associate professor of neurology and director of the UC Davis Huntington’s Disease Clinic, received a grant from the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine to prepare for a clinical trial, where they would implant into the brains of Huntington's disease victims mesenchymal stem cells that have been engineered to secrete the BDNF needed to protect neurons and keep them healthy. BDNF is known to be reduced in the brains of HD patients and research with HD mouse models has found the treatment to be safe and effective.

Nolta also has a separate multi-million dollar grant from the state stem cell agency to develop an RNAi delivery system using mesenchymal stem cells. If the trial of MSCs with BDNF is successful, it will provide proof of principle for MSCs as a delivery system for RNAi. “These grants are extremely important to California and to the field of regenerative medicine,” says Nolta. “They enable our teams of scientists and clinicians to plan stem cell clinical trials that will offer treatments to patients who currently have few if any other medical options.”

EndHD.org developed this video in support of Jan Nolta's research. UC Davis is grateful to third party organizations, like EndHD.org, who are committed to supporting our research programs.