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COLLIER INTRODUCTION Emerging Strategies in Neural Transplantation and Repair: A Special Section Based on the 10th ASNTR MeetingËGreetings

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A Special Section Based on the 10th ASNTR MeetingËGreetings. It is my privilege to introduce the section of this issue of Cell Transplantation devoted to the 10th annual meeting of the American Society for Neural Transplantation and Repair (ASNTR), which was held May 1–4, 2003. The reports, commentary, and review pieces that follow are an accurate capsule review of the meeting. The Society has many attributes that can be pointed to with justifiable pride. Two of these were in clear evidence at the 2003 meeting, and are represented in the pages that follow. First, ASNTR has a long history of encouraging the participation of young investigators and enabling that participation by providing student travel awards for the meeting. In recent years, ASNTR has provided no fewer than 10 travel awards for each meeting. The generosity and support of the sponsors of these awards is duly noted, and we have them to thank for the impact these young scientists have on the meeting. In return, the ASNTR meeting often becomes the first national conference at which these investigators present their studies. The determined absence of concurrent scientific sessions ensures that they have an attentive and engaged audience. Three of the reports in this issue are authored by ASNTR student travel award winners. Reports by Alemdar and colleagues and Marchionini and colleagues are directed at the optimization of survival and integration of embryonic dopamine neuron grafts in the rat model of Parkinson’s disease. Less than optimal survival and integration of grafted cells remains a significant problem for the therapeutic application of cell replacement therapies in many systems. Alemdar et al. (1) describe the delivery of liposomal formulations of neuroimmunophilins in conjunction with embryonic dopamine neurons as one way to enhance therapeutic outcome. Their results also suggest that different immunophilins have different effects on reinnervation and may effectively be used in combination. Marchionini et al. (4) revisit the use of caspase inhibitors as promoters of grafted dopamine neuron viability. Considerable disagreement exists in the literature on the efficacy of these agents, and this report suggests that efficacy may be related to the specific formulation of cultures and grafts and may not, at present, represent a primary intervention for augmentation of survival of grafted dopamine neurons. With the report of Irons and colleagues (3) the theme shifts to stem cells, in particular bone marrow stromal cells, and their engraftment in a rat model of stroke. This study highlights the fascinating interactions between transplanted cells and the cues expressed by the injured adult brain. Second, the ASNTR meeting is an open forum for debate of issues in the field of central nervous system repair. One debate that likely will continue for years is the therapeutic use of stem cells. Yurek and Fletcher-Turner (6) begin to wrestle with the emerging differences between a neuron instructed to be dopaminergic by nature (primary embryonic dopamine neurons) and those pushed to that phenotype by us (stem cells “converted” to the dopamine phenotype). The review by Ourednik and Ourednik (5) crystallizes a concept less appreciated in stem cell biology: that stem cells can instruct the mature injured brain to recapitulate the plasticity of immaturity to serve the goal of brain repair. Finally, a highlight of the 2003 ASNTR meeting was the session and open forum discussing current events in clinical trials for neural transplantation as a therapy for Parkinson’s disease. One investigator involved in this journey since the beginning is Dr. William Freed, and he has graciously translated his comments in that forum to a commentary piece on the past, present, and future of neural transplantation (2). I am grateful to all those who made this special section of the journal possible: the authors, my colleagues enlisted to review the submissions (often on short notice), the editors and publishers of Cell Transplantation. Enjoy.

Document Type: Letter Paper


Affiliations: ASNTR 2004, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL

Publication date: 2004-01-01

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  • Cell Transplantation publishes original, peer-reviewed research and review articles on the subject of cell transplantation and its application to human diseases. To ensure high-quality contributions from all areas of transplantation, separate section editors and editorial boards have been established. Articles deal with a wide range of topics including physiological, medical, preclinical, tissue engineering, and device-oriented aspects of transplantation of nervous system, endocrine, growth factor-secreting, bone marrow, epithelial, endothelial, and genetically engineered cells, among others. Basic clinical studies and immunological research papers are also featured. To provide complete coverage of this revolutionary field, Cell Transplantation will report on relevant technological advances, and ethical and regulatory considerations of cell transplants. Cell Transplantation is now an Open Access journal starting with volume 18 in 2009, and therefore there will be an inexpensive publication charge, which is dependent on the number of pages, in addition to the charge for color figures. This will allow work to be disseminated to a wider audience and also entitle the corresponding author to a free PDF, as well as prepublication of an unedited version of the manuscript.
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