Should we use stem cell therapy to treat brain disease?
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Human neural stem cells transplanted into brains of four boys with rare fatal brain disease

Human neural stem cells transplanted into brains of four boys with rare fatal brain disease | Should we use stem cell therapy to treat brain disease? | Scoop.it

Four young boys with a rare, fatal brain condition have made it through a dangerous ordeal. Scientists have safely transplanted human neural stem cells into their brains. Twelve months after the surgeries, the boys have more myelin — a fatty insulating protein that coats nerve fibers and speeds up electric signals between neurons — and show improved brain function, a new study in Science Translational Medicine reports. The preliminary trial paves the way for future research into potential stem cell treatments for the disorder, which overlaps with more common diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.

 

Without myelin, electrical impulses traveling along nerve fibers in the brain can’t travel from neuron to neuron says Nalin Gupta, lead author of the study and a neurosurgeon at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Signals in the brain become scattered and disorganized, he says, comparing them to a pile of lumber. “You wouldn’t expect lumber to assemble itself into a house,” he notes, yet neurons in a newborn baby’s brain perform a similar feat with the help of myelin-producing cells called oligodendrocytes. Most infants are born with very little myelin and develop it over time. In children with early-onset Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease, he says, a genetic mutation prevents oligodendrocytes from producing myelin, causing electrical signals to die out before they reach their destinations. This results in serious developmental setbacks, such as the inability to talk, walk, or breathe independently, and ultimately causes premature death.

 

Although researchers have long dreamed of implanting human neural stem cells to generate healthy oligodendrocytes and replace myelin, it has taken years of research in animals to develop a stem cell that can do the job, says Stephen Huhn, vice president of Newark, California-based StemCells Inc., the biotechnology company that created the cells used in the study and that funded the research. However, he says, a separate study by researchers at Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, found that the StemCell Inc. cells specialized into oligodendrocytes 60 percent to 70 percent of the time in mice, producing myelin and improved survival rates in myelin-deficient animals. So the team was able to test the cells’ safety and efficacy in the boys.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Jooyeon Cho's curator insight, January 8, 2013 1:07 AM

This article is about human neural stem cell transplants that were done on the brains of 4 boys with rare, fatal brain conditions. The transplant was a success and has shown to improve the conditions of the boys. This transplant shows the potential that stem cell therapy holds and how it could vastly advance medical treatments.

Claire P-C's curator insight, January 23, 2013 7:26 AM

Promising results for patients! It would be highly interesting to assess the transplantation effects on these boys in few years.

 

For more information:

N. Gupta, et al., Neural Stem Cell Engraftment and Myelination in the Human Brain. Sci. Transl. Med. 4, 155ra137 (2012).

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Stem cells: Painkillers caught in blood-cell trafficking - Nature.com

Nature.com Stem cells: Painkillers caught in blood-cell trafficking Nature.com Stem and progenitor cells of the blood system reside in the safe haven of their immediate surroundings — a microenvironment that contains a complex network of 'niche'...
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Neurons made from stem cells drive brain activity after transplantation

Neurons made from stem cells drive brain activity after transplantation | Should we use stem cell therapy to treat brain disease? | Scoop.it
Researchers at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute have found a way to stimulate stem cell-derived neurons to direct cognitive function after transplantation to an existing neural network by using optogenetic stimulation — getting us a step closer to using these cells to treat Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative conditions.

 

Researchers and patients look forward to the day when stem cells might be used to replace dying brain cells in Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative conditions.

 

Lipton and his team — including colleagues at Sanford-Burnham and Stanford University — transplanted human stem cell-derived neurons into a rodent hippocampus, the brain’s information-processing center. Then they specifically activated the transplanted neurons with optogenetic stimulation, a relatively new technique that combines light and genetics to precisely control cellular behavior in living tissues or animals.

 

To determine if the newly transplanted, light-stimulated human neurons were actually working, Lipton and his team measured high-frequency oscillations in existing neurons at a distance from the transplanted ones. They found that the transplanted neurons triggered the existing neurons to fire high-frequency oscillations. Faster neuronal oscillations are usually better — they’re associated with enhanced performance in sensory-motor and cognitive tasks.

 

The transplanted human neurons not only conducted electrical impulses, they also roused neighboring neuronal networks into firing — at roughly the same rate they would in a normal, functioning hippocampus.

 

The therapeutic outlook for this technology looks promising. “Based on these results, we might be able to restore brain activity — and thus restore motor and cognitive function — by transplanting easily manipulated neuronal cells derived from embryonic stem cells,” Lipton said.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Devices aim to deliver on stem-cell therapies

Devices aim to deliver on stem-cell therapies | Should we use stem cell therapy to treat brain disease? | Scoop.it
Bendable needle increases reach of a single injection to the brain.

 

Several laboratories are investigating ways to treat neurological diseases by injecting cells into patients’ brains, and clinical trials are being conducted for Parkinson’s disease, stroke and other neurodegenerative diseases. These studies follow experiments showing dramatic improvements


Via TEAM Mike Lopez Memorial Foundation |Find us on Twitter:@TEAMCUREALS
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Stem Cells Freak: Mesenchymal stem cells against brain cancer

Stem Cells Freak: Mesenchymal stem cells against brain cancer | Should we use stem cell therapy to treat brain disease? | Scoop.it
Researchers from the Johns Hopkins University show in a new study that mesenchymal stem cells could one day be used in personalised treatments for Glioblastoma.
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How stem cell implants help heal traumatic brain injury

How stem cell implants help heal traumatic brain injury | Should we use stem cell therapy to treat brain disease? | Scoop.it
Researchers have identified key molecular mechanisms by which implanted human neural stem cells aid recovery from traumatic axonal injury.

Via Sakis Koukouvis
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Is a trial of stem cell therapy in autism scientifically and ethically justified?

Is a trial of stem cell therapy in autism scientifically and ethically justified? | Should we use stem cell therapy to treat brain disease? | Scoop.it
Houston, we have a problem. Oh, wait. I’m not talking about Stanislaw Burzynski this time. But we do still have a problem, and it’s a problem that resembles the Burzynski problem I recently discussed.

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Targeted therapy of cancer stem cells: science or fiction, Therapeutic Delivery, Future Science

RT @jimtill: Targeted therapy of cancer stem cells: science or fiction (OA) http://t.co/1nTtIQEcGE #cancerSC
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