Researchers in India have used an autologous stem cell treatment in a pilot pre-clinical study to completely reverse the adverse effects of a quickly progressing case of MS (multiple sclerosis). MS is an autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks its own nervous system by breaking down the myelin sheath on neurons. Proper myelination is responsible for faster transmission of nerve signals and aggressive forms of MS cause patients to lose motor functions in their limbs, as well as experience memory and cognition problems. The patient in this study was experiencing a particularly degenerative form of MS, with multiple relapses over the years, and he began losing his ability to walk. After receiving an injection of his own mesenchymal stem cells (the same type of stem cells found in teeth), as well as a monitored diet and physical therapy, the patient experienced immediate improvement. He was soon able to walk and even run again, which he had been unable to do for over five years.
Huntington's disease is a fatal neurodegenerative disease affecting the neuronal striatum and thus motor and behavioral control. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is an exciting avenue of research for Huntington’s because it has been shown to prevent neuronal death and stimulate the growth of brain cells. Additionally, Huntington’s post mortem brains indicate low concentrations of BDNF. For the first time, scientists have engineered mesenchymal stem cells(MSCs) as delivery agents for BDNF.
The UC Davis team isolated MSCs and engineered them to secrete elevated amounts of BDNF. The stem cells were then injected into immunosuppressed animal models, who were monitored for behavioral differences. The group treated with MSCs demonstrated less degeneration in the striatum, increased neuron growth activity, and an extended lifespan of 15 percent.
Researchers led by Dr. Su-Chun Zhang at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Waisman Center are utilizing stem cells in a pre-clinical trial to determine the role of human astrocytes in neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS, Huntington’s disease, and Rhett Syndrome. The team found that, upon integration into the central nervous system, stem cell-derived astrocytes from patients with ALS replace the astrocytes of the host while disrupting motor function, as though the host also had ALS.
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.
The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada has funded Canada’s first stem cell clinical trial to treat multiple sclerosis, conducted by researchers at the University of Ottawa. The trial, called MESCAMS [Mesenchymal Stem Cell Therapy for Canadian MS patients], will comprise MSC infusions to the central nervous system to utilize their ability to regulate autoimmune attacks and reduce inflammation in 40 MS patients.
Topics: ALS, Phase III, neural stem cells, multiple sclerosis, Brain, clinical trials, Debilitating Diseases, Stemcells, autologousstemcells, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Neurodegenerative disease, stemsaveblog
German scientists at the University of Bielefeld and Dresden University of technology have produced neurons from inferior turbinate stem cells [ITSC], a cell type that is typically discarded during sinus surgery, as a potential treatment for Parkinson’s disease. After transplanting the ITSCs into an animal model suffering from Parkinson’s, the researchers observed full functional restoration and significant behavioral recovery in the subjects without any adverse side effects.
A research team from the University of Washington has discovered a stem cell signal in Gambel’s white-crown sparrows that may lead to new regenerative treatments for patient suffering from neurodegenerative diseases. The team found that, in preparation for an upcoming mating season, the sparrow’s brain cells release a chemical signal that activates the division of neural stem cells, which facilitate peak singing performance to attract mates.
In a recently published study, a team of researchers from the University of Cambridge has shown that neural stem cells are able to communicate and alleviate damage in other cells by transferring vesicles filled with molecules that enable the cells to repair themselves. The cellular “first aid kits” contain proteins and nucleic acids that stimulate gene activation and signaling pathways to help the injured target cells survive.
A recent clinical trial conducted by the University of Genoa has determined that mesenchymal stem cell therapy to treat multiple sclerosis is indeed safe to perform on humans. 27 MS patients completed the study, which comprised an injection of the patient’s own [autologous] mesenchymal stem cells [MSCs] to reduce excessive inflammation caused by the patients’ own immune systems. None of the patients suffered any side effects from the injection.
Topics: limbs, Phase III, traumatic brain injuries, neural stem cells, multiple sclerosis, clinical trials, Debilitating Diseases, Phase II, Stemcells, autologousstemcells, Neurodegenerative disease, stemsaveblog
Jackie Ward, a PhD student at the University of California, San Diego, has devised a method for studying rare neurological diseases, such as spinocerebeller ataxia. Ward developed a disease-on-a-dish model by harvesting stem cells from ataxic patients, differentiating them into the type of cell that is degenerated by ataxia, and then studying the progression of the disease.