A $225m investment from pharmaceutical giant Bayer catapults BlueRock Therapeutics onto the stem cell therapy stage. BlueRock will initially focus on cardiovascular and neurological treatments. A team led by Dr. Michael Laflamme and Dr. Gordon Keller will concentrate on regenerating heart muscle for patients who have suffered a heart attack, whilst a team led by Dr. Lorenz Studer and Dr. Viviane Tabar will concentrate on restoring dopamine-producing cells in patients with Parkinson's disease .
Scientists at Rutgers and Stanford Universities, led by Prabhas V. Moghe, created a new stem cell-based technology that may treat Parkinson’s disease. Their technology utilizes a 3D scaffold containing a tiny polymer that, compared to 2D environments, allows for the growth of stem cells in all directions. This represents a significant innovation from current stem cell applications as it creates a more accurate representation of how the stem cells are configured in the brain. Facilitating communication between the brain and the transplanted stem cells resulted in a more effective transplant.
Dr. Leo Behie, of the University of Calgary, in collaboration with Dr. António Salgado and Dr. Nuno Sousa of Portugal, has developed a novel stem cell based method to treat Parkinson’s disease. The new strategy utilizes autologous [the patient’s own] mesenchymal stem cells [MSCs] thereby eliminating the need for a donor and immunosuppressant drugs that compromise the body’s immune system.
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive, degenerative disorder of the nervous system that affects more than 60,000 Americans each year. A group of researchers from Yonsei University in South Korea has discovered that the protection of nervous tissue may be facilitated by stem cells. Animals with Parkinson’s were injected with human mesenchymal stem cells. The treatment improved the animals’ cognitive behavior and suppressed alpha-synuclein, a toxic protein in the brain.
Scientists led by Mathias Hoehn at the Max Planck Institute for Metabolic Research have devised a novel method for documenting the process by which human stem cells transplanted into the cerebral cortex of an animal model develop into mature nerve cells. The researchers inserted optical image reporters into the cells to emit different shades of light when certain genes were activated. By observing the sequence in which the light was emitted, the group determined the timeline of the stem cell’s transformation in vivo.
Researchers at Gutenberg University Mainz have found a way to generate human neurons from pericytes, cells found in the central nervous system, through the use of stem cells. The researchers have observed the process of differentiation that stem cells undergo when they become a new type of cell, and have induced stem cells to go through this process. Therefore, these cells have been directed to become new neuronal cells.