A team of researchers led by Professor Jeanne Loring of the Scripps Research Institute have advanced a potential treatment option for autoimmune diseases similar to multiple sclerosis by utilizing human stem cells to reregulate the immune system. In an animal model paralyzed by MS symptoms, the scientists differentiated human stem cells into early stage neural cells that, when transplanted into the spinal cords of the compromised mice, secreted proteins that halted the autoimmune attack and enabled the mice to walk and run again.
In a recent publication, biologists in the Immune Tolerance Network have used autologous [the patient’s own] stem cells to refurbish the immune systems of Multiple Sclerosis [MS] patients to no longer favor autoimmunity. The ITN researchers suppressed the patients’ immune systems, transplanted the stem cells, and in a 12 month follow-up, identified key distinctions between the patients’ T-cells before and after the transplant, indicating that the procedure was a success.
A team of researchers at the University of Illinois led by doctors Fei Wang, Qiuhao Qu, and JianJun Cheng, have developed a fast and efficient technique for differentiating stem cells into motor neurons. The researchers added critical signaling molecules and growth factors to the cells much earlier than previous methods, resulting in twice the amount of neurons derived from the cells in half the time.
As reported by the Wall Street Journal, adult stem cell therapies are advancing rapidly; with researchers utilizing stem cells to treat an expanding range of disease, trauma and injury. The article highlights the increasing use of cord blood to treat a variety of ailments such as; Cerebral Palsy, Traumatic Brain Injury and immune deficiencies such as diabetes.
A team of researchers led by Dr. Cecilia Laterza and Dr. Gianvito Martino at the San Raffaele Hospital have found a novel use of neural stem cells to modulate damage caused by multiple sclerosis. Stem cells injected into mice with MS travelled to sites of inflammation and secreted factors to promote growth of myelin-producing cells and limit the inflammation caused by the strong immune attack.
Scientists in the US (UC, UCSD) and China (Wuhan) have found a way to convert stem cells into functional neurons. The researchers were able to suppress an RNA-binding protein, inducing the stem cells to become neurons. This gives hope for a treatment for neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington’s, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis, and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease), which will afflict one in four Americans over their lifetime.