Complex chemical polymers are currently being developed by scientists at Stanford University to protect and support the proliferation of stem cells during spinal cord transplantation procedures. The gels are designed to provide padding for the cells during injection, while also varying in viscosity and the biochemical signals contained within to offer stem cells an optimal environment for differentiation.
In a recently published study by the University of Minnesota, researchers are utilizing skeletal muscle stem cells in an animal model designed to study the muscle-degenerative protein DUX4 found in patients with facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy [FSHD]. The team was able to harvest the muscle stem cells from one mouse with FSHD and transplant them into a recipient mouse, allowing the recipient to regenerate new muscle as long as DUX4 was not activated.
A recently published study by University of Illinois Kinesiology and Community Health Professor Marni Boppart has identified mesenchymal stem cells [MSCs] as a tool for rejuvenating muscle to prevent age-related injuries and disabilities. In addition to their ability to differentiate into other cell types, MSCs were found to secrete growth factors that stimulate the activation of the multiple cell types comprising skeletal muscle, including muscle precursor cells and satellite cells, which lose function with age.
Recent research from the University of Colorado Boulder has identified two stem cell signaling pathways that are directly related to the age-related degeneration of muscle tissue and the onset of a variety of muscle-wasting diseases, such as muscular dystrophy and sarcopenia. By altering these pathways, the investigators were able to enhance muscle stem cell renewal and improve muscle regeneration.
A medical team from the University of Calgary is now recruiting candidates to participate in the phase one clinical trial for a new stem cell therapy that aims to treat spinal cord injuries. The researchers plan to inject stem cells into the spinal cord two sites above and two sites below the point of injury to recreate lost or damaged tissue.
As the most common genetic neurological disease contributing to infant mortality, researchers have been exploring the utility of autologous stem cell therapies (or therapies that use a patient's own stem cells) in treating Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA).