ReNeuron has received confirmation that its immortalised, human, neural stem cells are genetically stable in long-term culture. Long-term genotypic stability is an essential pre-requisite for transplantation into the brain, meaning that this confirmation is an important step forward for the Company’s cell therapy ambitions.

ReNeuron’s recent data shows that its cells remain both genetically and phenotypically stable after approximately 100 cell doublings in cell culture. This represents sufficient doublings for the cells to be commercially viable.

ReNeuron has used the immortalising c-myc gene fused with a variant of the oestrogen receptor to achieve this important milestone. This c-myc technology is proprietary to ReNeuron and was licensed from Amrad Corporation. ReNeuron’s technology allows for rapid doublings of cells in serum-free, feeder-layer-free, defined cell culture. However, the cells will only divide in the presence of hydroxytamoxifen. This is an important safety switch ensuring that the cells will not divide after implantation into the brain of individuals of either sex.

ReNeuron has now screened a large number of c-myc-immortalised cell lines to identify those most suitable for transplantation. These lines have been screened for in vivo survival and maturation and the lead lines show excellent in vivo survival and maturation into both neurones and glia. In cell culture, the cells are able to mature into rich neural networks showing synapse formation and electrophysiological properties consistent with both neurones and glia.

In earlier development work, ReNeuron had found that cells immortalised with a temperature sensitive gene (tsT) were genetically unstable and the Company therefore discontinued its use of this gene in favour of its conditional c-myc technology.

ReNeuron’s focus remains the development of ground-breaking cell transplantation therapies to treat patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, stroke and other diseases of the brain. ReNeuron uses a tiny sample of human foetal brain as starting material to create brain stem cell lines, each of which has the potential to treat many hundreds of patients.

Notes to editors

ReNeuron Holdings PLC is a UK bio-pharmaceutical company developing proprietary treatments for neurological disorders. Its focus is the development of innovative neural stem cell transplantation technology for the treatment of brain diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease and stroke. The Company is also exploiting the use of its stem cell lines as a drug discovery platform through its ReNcell product, which is marketed to pharmaceutical companies and academia for use as a drug discovery tool and for general research. ReNeuron’s stem cells also have the capability to form neural networks suitable for use in biosensors, currently being developed as a potential detection tool to combat bio-terrorism or as a drug screening tool in the pharmaceutical industry.

In addition to its stem cell programmes, ReNeuron is also developing more conventional drugs targeting diseases of the nervous system. ReNeuron has in-licensed two protein-based therapeutics, ReN1820 and ReN1826, which are currently in pre-clinical development.

Further information

Dr Martin Edwards, Chief Executive Officer, ReNeuron Holdings PLC44 (0)1483 302560