On 14th September 2009, the physician Dr. Lusine Danielyan from Tübingen was awarded the “Förderpreis Ersatz- und Ergänzungsmethoden zum Tierversuch des Landes Baden-Württemberg" (Prize for alternative and complementary methods to animal testing) in Stuttgart. The young scientist, who works in the Department of Clinical Pharmacology at the Institute of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University Hospital of Tübingen, has developed a method that enables researchers to work non-invasively with experimental animals.
Previously, investigations into the use of stem cells for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases required the cells to be implanted into the brain. Danielyan has developed a method that enables the animals to snort stem cells suspended in fluid. The cells then rapidly migrate from the nose mucosa into the brain. The method is well tolerated by the animals and can be used as an alternative to the surgical transplantation of stem cells, which has been the standard method of investigation up until now.
The Baden-Württemberg government attaches great importance to the protection of animals used for scientific purposes. It gives awards to research that makes a considerable contribution to replacing animal testing or to reducing the stress of animals in the areas of science, education, medical diagnostics and the testing of substances and products. The prize comes with a purse of 25,000 euros and is awarded by the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Food and Rural Areas in accordance with the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts on the basis of recommendations made by an independent commission of experts.
Dr. Lusine Danielyan, head of the Laboratory of Cell Biology in the Department of Clinical Pharmacology, is the senior author of a report that appeared in the European Journal of Cell Biology in March 2009, in which the scientists describe the intranasal delivery of cells to the brain. This method is the first real alternative for the delivery of stem cells to the brain without surgery. The method was shown to be well tolerated by the experimental animals and does not cause the animals extra discomfort or pain. Anaesthesia is not necessary. The ability to deliver cells into the brain of animals intranasally opens up numerous scientific possibilities. In particular, it will be possible to use this method to deliver cells into the central nervous system over a long period of time. This will then allow the investigation of therapeutic options for many diseases of the central nervous system at the same time as reducing the number of animals that need to be used for the experiments, and reducing the stress suffered by the animals.
The publication brings scientists a step closer to treating a broad range of neurological diseases (stroke, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis, traumatic brain lesions, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Huntington's disease) through the non-invasive delivery of therapeutic cells. In addition, it is also an excellent method for establishing a tumour model of the animal central nervous system. In ongoing and future studies, Dr. Danielyan will investigate the therapeutic efficiency of intranasally delivered stem cells in different neurodegenerative models (Parkinson's, Alzheimer's).
Further information:University Hospital TübingenInstitute of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology and ToxicologyDepartment of Clinical PharmacologyDr. Lusine DanielyanTel.: +49 (0) 70 71 29-7 49 26Fax: +49 (0) 70 71 29-50 35E-mail: Lusine.Danielyan(at)med.uni-tuebingen.de