A City of Hope researchers are utilizing stem cells to understand the genetic mutations that occur in astrocytes, a type of neuron, as well as damage to the myelin sheath, which is integral to the development of ALS and Alzheimer’s. Stem cells were used to create a model of Alexander disease, which is a neurological disorder similar to ALS and Alzheimer’s in its pathology, part of which involves a genetic mutation that hinders the production of an adequate myelin sheath, a fatty membrane that covers neurons and expedites signal transduction. Using this technique, the researchers homed in on the CHI3L protein, which seems to be primarily responsible for neuroinflammation and stunted neuronal development, including an inadequate myelin sheath.
Using CRISPR, a gene editing technology, the researchers corrected the malfunctioning gene in stem cells, which they then differentiated into fully functioning neurons. The research provides a more nuanced understanding of neurological mechanisms and could lead to potential treatments for diseases involving astrocytes. "Although neurons have been in the spotlight for years, more studies are finding that astrocytes play a very important role in normal brain function and neurological disease," comments Li Li Shi, lead author of this study.
This innovative research demonstrates the integral role stem cells are playing in cutting edge medical care options. By banking their own valuable stem cells, families can ensure that they will have access to these emerging therapies in the near future. To learn more about banking stem cells, please visit StemSave or call 877-783- 6728 (877-StemSave) today.
The Future of Regenerative Medicine is Now™
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