Case Western Identifies Drugs That Activate Brain Stem Cells To Reverse Multiple Sclerosis

Source: Case Western Reserve School of Medicine / Photo: Medical Campus

(CLEVELAND, Ohio) — A pair of topical medicines already alleviating skin conditions each may prove to have another, even more compelling use: instructing stem cells in the brain to reverse damage caused by multiple sclerosis.

Led by researchers at Case Western Reserve, a multi-institutional team used a new discovery approach to identify drugs that could activate mouse and human brain stem cells in the laboratory. The two most potent drugs – one that currently treats athlete’s foot, and the other, eczema – were capable of stimulating the regeneration of damaged brain cells and reversing paralysis when administered systemically to animal models of multiple sclerosis. The results are published online ( Monday, April 20, in the scientific journal Nature.

“We know that there are stem cells throughout the adult nervous system that are capable of repairing the damage caused by multiple sclerosis, but until now, we had no way to direct them to act,” said Paul Tesar, PhD, the Dr. Donald and Ruth Weber Goodman Professor of Innovative Therapeutics, and associate professor in the Department of Genetics & Genome Sciences at the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine. “Our approach was to find drugs that could catalyze the body’s own stem cells to replace the cells lost in multiple sclerosis.”

The findings mark the most promising developments to date in efforts to help the millions of people around the world who suffer from multiple sclerosis. The disease is the most common chronic neurological disorder among young adults, and results from aberrant immune cells destroying the protective coating, called myelin, around nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.

Without myelin, neural signals cannot be transmitted properly along nerves; over time, a patient’s ability to walk, hold a cup or even see is inexorably eroded. Current multiple sclerosis therapies aim to slow further myelin destruction by the immune system, but the Case Western Reserve team used a new approach to create new myelin within the nervous system. Their work offers great promise of developing therapies that reverse disabilities caused by multiple sclerosis or similar neurological disorders.

“To replace damaged cells, much of the stem cell field has focused on direct transplantation of stem cell-derived tissues for regenerative medicine, and that approach is likely to provide enormous benefit down the road,” said Tesar, also a New York Stem Cell Foundation Robertson Investigator and member of the National Center for Regenerative Medicine. “But here we asked if we could find a faster and less invasive approach by using drugs to activate native stem cells already in the adult nervous system and direct them to form new myelin. Our ultimate goal was to enhance the body’s ability to repair itself.”

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By |April 20th, 2015|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Stem Cell Injection Repairs Damage To London Man’s Heart After Attack

Source: International Business Times

(LONDON, UK) – A London family man has become one of the first patients to receive an injection that “heals” damaged hearts.

The prognosis for Owen Palmer, 52, was poor after he suffered a heart attack.

Palmer says that afterwards he was barely able to walk and was unable to climb stairs. “I would just sit in a chair watching TV,” he says. Before revolutionary new treatment the outlook was grim: “I had to come to terms with the prospect of not getting better.”

Treating the damage to heart tissue caused by cardiac arrests has often involved risky surgery and a lifelong reliance on medication. The new treatment being developed by Barts NHS Trust at the London Chest Hospital uses stem cells.

From hip to heart

First doctors extracted bone marrow from Palmer’s hip and separated white blood cells from it. Stem cells were then extracted from the white blood cells, which were injected into his heart muscle. This began a process of tissue regeneration which has now strengthened the muscle considerably.

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By |April 18th, 2015|Uncategorized|0 Comments

“Body on a Chip” Project Update: Video of Mini Hearts and Livers

Source: Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center / Photo: A cardiac organoid marked to show vascularization

(WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.) − As part of a “Body on a Chip” project funded by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, scientists at Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, a part of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, in collaboration with partners from around the country, are developing miniature hearts, livers, blood vessels and lungs that will be used to predict the effects of chemical and biologic agents and used to test the effectiveness of potential treatments. The organoids will be connected to a system of micro-fluid channels and sensors to provide online monitoring of individual organoids and the overall organoid system. This approach has the potential to reduce the need for testing in animals, which is expensive, slow and provides results that aren’t always applicable to people.

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By |April 15th, 2015|Uncategorized|0 Comments

UM Stem Cell Research Could Grow Bone, Potentially Treat Obesity

Source: Miami Herald / Photo: Dr. Joshua Hare, courtesy Miami Herald

(MIAMI, Fla.) — A new stem cell study conducted at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine has isolated a trigger in stem cells which could be the key to growing bone and combating conditions like osteoporosis and obesity.

Published in March, the study is the culmination of years of work to define a specific biochemical switch that determines whether stem cells become bone or fat. The discovery, led by the Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute at UM, focused on specific types of stem cells, called mesenchymal stem cells, which are found in the bone marrow.

“We could pin it down to a specific amino acid on a specific protein,” said Dr. Joshua Hare, founding director of the institute and senior author on the study. “This was a really exciting and elegant body of work.”

The study extracted stem cells from genetically modified mice whose cells created more bone and less fat. The stem cells were analyzed to determine the specific checkpoint that, like a switch, can be triggered to cause stem cells to change into bone cells rather than fat cells. The treated mice were thinner and had a higher percentage of lean mass compared to wild mice, signals that Hare said reflect the possible implications of the research.

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By |April 15th, 2015|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Stem Cell Injection May Soon Reverse Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Source: Medical Express

(LOS ANGELES, Ca.) — An injection of stem cells into the eye may soon slow or reverse the effects of early-stage age-related macular degeneration, according to new research from scientists at Cedars-Sinai. Currently, there is no treatment that slows the progression of the disease, which is the leading cause of vision loss in people over 65.

“This is the first study to show preservation of vision after a single injection of adult-derived human cells into a rat model with age-related macular degeneration,” said Shaomei Wang, MD, PhD, lead author of the study published in the journal Stem Cells and a research scientist in the Eye Program at the Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors Regenerative Medicine Institute.

The stem cell injection resulted in 130 days of preserved vision in laboratory rats, which roughly equates to 16 years in humans.

Age-related macular degeneration affects upward of 15 million Americans. It occurs when the small central portion of the retina, known as the macula, deteriorates. The retina is the light-sensing nerve tissue at the back of the eye. Macular degeneration may also be caused by environmental factors, aging and a genetic predisposition.

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By |April 14th, 2015|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Hockey Legend Gordie Howe After ‘Life-Changing’ Stem Cell Therapy For Stroke

Source: The Dallas Morning News / Photo: Gordie Howe, AP

(LUBBOCK, Texas) — Ravaged by a stroke that left him unable to walk and barely able to speak, Gordie Howe had decided it was time to quit.

His sons didn’t want to hear it. Not from Mr. Hockey, whose 25-year career in the NHL was defined by his indomitable style of play and blend of grit and finesse.

“He was saying, ‘Take me out back and shoot me,“’ recalled Murray Howe, a diagnostic radiologist. “He was serious. It wasn’t like a joke. I said, ‘Dad, let’s just see if we can help you first.“’

They found it in Mexico, where experimental stem cell treatments produced what his family called a “life changing” turnaround that has put the 87-year-old Howe back on his feet. A second round of treatments is planned in June.

Recent years have been challenging for Howe, who set NHL marks with 801 goals and 1,850 points — mostly with the Detroit Red Wings — that held up until Wayne Gretzky surpassed him. He retired from hockey for good, but not until he was 52.

The body he counted on as an athlete has stayed relatively strong, but memory loss from the early stages of dementia became a problem even before his wife’s death in 2009 after battling Pick’s disease, a rare form of dementia similar to Alzheimer’s. Colleen Howe’s death was a blow and seemed to hasten Howe’s decline, Murray Howe said.

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By |April 14th, 2015|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Lung Cells Can Regenerate Themselves, Finding Could Bring New Disease Cures

Source: Tech Times / Photo: Type 1 (green) and Type 2 (red) Cells in lung tissue, courtesy University of Pennsylvania

(PHILADELPHIA, Pa.) — Lung tissue is better at regenerating itself after injury than previously thought, a discovery that could improve the treatment of some lung and breathing disorders, researchers say.

In addition, lung cells — which come in two distinct types in the alveoli, where lungs perform their gas-exchange function — can be regenerated from more than one kind of cell, scientists at Duke University and the University of Pennsylvania report.

Long, thin Type 1 cells are where the gases oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged during breathing. Type 2 cells secrete surfactant, a slippery substance that helps keep airways open.

Both types grow from common stem cells in the embryo.

While previous research has demonstrated that Type 2 cells can differentiate into gas-exchanging Type 1 cells in response to injury, the new study suggests the opposite — Type 1 cells becoming Type 2 cells — is also possible, the scientists say.

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By |April 13th, 2015|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Encapsulated Stem Cells Accelerate Wound Healing

Source: Cornell Chronicles / Photo: Mesenchymal stem cells captured in microcapsules

(ITHICA, New York) — A team of Cornell scientists has shown that stem cells confined inside tiny capsules secrete substances that help heal simulated wounds in cell cultures, opening up new ways of delivering these substances to locations in the body where they can hasten healing.

The capsules need to be tested to see if they help healing in animals and humans, but they could eventually lead to “living bandage” technologies: wound dressings embedded with capsules of stem cells to help the wound regenerate.

“Microencapsulated equine mesenchymal stromal cells promote cutaneous wound healing in vitro” appeared in the April 10 Stem Cell Research & Therapy.

“The encapsulation seems to increase the stem cells’ regenerative potential,” said Gerlinde Van de Walle of the Baker Institute for Animal Health in the College of Veterinary Medicine, adding that the reasons why are not yet known. “It’s possible that putting them in capsules changes the interactions between stem cells or changes the microenvironment.”

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By |April 13th, 2015|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Gut Instinct: How Intestinal Stem Cells Find Their Niche

Source: / Photo: Adult intestinal stem cells at base of chick embryo villi, credit: Tabin lab

(BOSTON, Mass.) — Mommy, where do intestinal stem cells come from? All right, it’s not likely a kindergartner would ask such a question. But evolutionary biologists want to know.

Adult intestinal stem cells live at the bases of our villi, the tiny, fingerlike protuberances that line the intestines and absorb nutrients.

There, the stem cells constantly churn out new intestinal cells to replace those being destroyed by corrosive digestive juices.

The researchers asked: How and when do these stem cells appear in the right place so they can do their job?

Studying mice and chicks, whose intestinal formation is similar to ours, the team found that the entire intestinal lining has stem cell properties at first. As the embryo develops, all but a few cells lose this potential.

“This lends support to the theory that adult stem cells are remnants of a more general pool of cells in the embryo,” said Amy Shyer, who conducted the work as a graduate student in the lab of Cliff Tabin at Harvard Medical School and is now a Miller Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley.

As for why these cells are restricted to the villi bases, or crypts, the researchers believe the structure of the developing intestine determines which cells receive signals from neighboring tissues that say, “Stop being stem cells.”

About two weeks into development, the intestine, initially a smooth tube, starts to form mountainous zigzags that will ultimately become villi. Cells at the peaks are exposed to signals that suppress stem cell properties, while cells in the valleys don’t receive them.



By |April 10th, 2015|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Girl With High-Risk Leukemia Saved With Stem Cells From Umbilical Cord Donation

Source: ABC News / Photo: Jenna and mom Julie, courtesy Robert Hood.

(MAPLE VALLEY, Wash.) — A Washington girl is celebrating being cancer-free after she was diagnosed with high-riskleukemia at just 9 years old. When doctors failed to find a traditional bone marrow or stem cell donor for transplant, they turned to stem cells taken from donated umbilical cords to try and save her life.
Jenna Gibson, now 12, kept catching colds and feeling sick when her mother took her to her pediatrician, who was immediately concerned.

“I’ll never forget these words,” recalled Gibson. “Our doctor knew her and…she turned around and looked at Jenna and said, ‘You don’t look well.”

After a battery of tests and blood work, Gibson said Jenna’s pediatrician told them to go straight to the Emergency Room at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Jenna was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia and almost immediately put into chemotherapy.
“You don’t go home with this type of leukemia, it doesn’t work that way,” said Gibson. “The chemo they use on the body takes away your immune system.”

For over a month Jenna had to stay at the hospital with the family hoping that tests after her first treatment would show that the medication was working. But a month after she arrived, doctors told the family that Jenna had enough cancer cells remaining to make her high risk. She would need a bone marrow transplant to survive.

Gibson said the family was terrified because Jenna was adopted and there was little chance a sibling or family member could help her with a transplant.

“We knew her siblings would not be an option [which] is incredibly scary,” said Gibson. Gibson said they then learned match rates for minorities was also low, causing more complications for Jenna, who was born in Guatemala.
“Then to find out she was high-risk we were defeated even more,” said Gibson.

After weeks of searching with no luck, the medical staff at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center decided to try using stem cells taken from donated umbilical cords. While not as frequent an option, using stem cells from cord blood has become more popular in recent years.

Dr. Colleen Delany, director of the Cord Blood Transplant Program at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, said it’s easier to treat children with cord blood because they are smaller and do not need as many stem cells and that it can be easier to find a donor because there aren’t as many markers that must be matched for a successful transplant.
“Cord blood is so naïve and uneducated it’s more tolerant to be in a new environment,” said Delany. “We can find a donor for nearly everyone to find a transplant.”

Delany and her team were able to find a cord blood match for Jenna that was a 6/6 match, when the search failed to find a traditional bone marrow donor.

“What blows me away is that cord blood went into the garbage…every day it is happening thousands and thousands of times, there is a woman out there somewhere who said donate it,” said Gibson. “It saved our daughter’s life.”

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By |April 10th, 2015|Uncategorized|0 Comments