“As a result, there has been significant interest in developing RPE culture systems both to study AMD disease mechanisms and to provide substrate for possible cell-based therapies. Because of their indefinite self-renewal, human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) have the potential to provide an unlimited supply of RPE-like cells,” noted Donald Zack, M.D., Ph.D., who with Julien Maruotti, Ph.D., led the team of researchers from the Wilmer Institute, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Md., and the Institute of Vision in Paris in conducting the study.
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ALS (commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) is characterized by the degeneration and death of the body’s motor neurons, leading to muscle atrophy, paralysis and death due to failure of the respiratory muscles. Despite studies that have improved our understanding of how ALS develops, there are no effective treatments. However, stem cell based-therapies have emerged as a potential solution.
“NK cells show promise for cancer therapy,” said Dan Kaufman, M.D., Ph.D., of the Stem Cell Institute, University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. “They are part of the innate immune system and exhibit potent antitumor activity without the need for donor matching and prior treatment.
“Moreover, the derivation of NK cells from pluripotent stem cells could provide an unlimited source of lymphocytes for ‘off-the-shelf’ therapy.”
Dr. Kaufman was the lead investigator on the study that included colleagues from UM as well as from the Integrated Center of Cellular Therapy and Regenerative Medicine, St. Anne's University Hospital Brno, Brno, Czech Republic; and the University of Texas, Houston.
Interestingly, the regenerated bone is also hard, rather than the spongy kind normally found in the jaw.
The new study is a follow-up to previous investigations by an international team of researchers in which they discovered that mesenchymal stem cells taken from dental pulp and seeded on a collagen scaffold successfully repaired the mandible bone. In this latest work, they checked on patients who had received the mandible bone grafts three years earlier to assess the stability and quality of the regenerated bone and vessel network.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a rapidly deteriorating neurological condition affecting five out of every 100,000 people worldwide, mainly after the age of 50. The average survival time is only three years.
While no effective treatment exists, preliminary studies suggest that the quality of life and even life expectancy itself could be improved in patients who receive stem cell infusions. However, questions remain about the capacity of these cells to “take hold” and turn into neurons.
Kidney transplants have long been the treatment of choice for many patients with end-stage renal disease, and the short-term results are excellent. But unfortunately, the viability of these kidneys over time has not improved accordingly, often due to fibrosis, which is a scarring of the transplanted organ generally caused by the immune system rejecting it.
The LUMC team, led by Marlies E.J. Reinders, M.D, Ph.D., and Ton J. Rabelink, M.D., Ph.D., decided to test whether stem cells might keep fibrosis in check. They focused on mesenchymal stromal cells, a type of stem cell found throughout the body, including in bone marrow.
In DMD, the most common form of muscular dystrophy, patients lack a large, rod-like protein called dystrophin located primarily in muscles used for movement and in heart muscle. The dystrophin is part of a group of proteins that acts as an anchor, connecting each muscle cell's structural framework with the lattice of proteins and other molecules outside the cell. Without dystrophin, many of the muscle cells in the heart are damaged, subsequently die and are replaced by connective tissue.
Scientists Daniel Peterson and Laura Shin used MSC cells extracted from human bone marrow and grafted them into wounds of healthy mice and mice with diabetes. Mice in both groups each had two separate wounds to better allow the researchers to study the precise role the cells played in healing.
Some mice in each group received MSC cells in one wound while others did not receive the cells at all.
After studying the differences in healing, signaling and cell populations in the mice, Peterson and Shin learned that both normal and impaired mice given MSC cells healed more quickly, even in wounds that did not receive direct MSC cell grafts.
The study, funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), Medical Research Council (MRC) and Wellcome Trust, outlines a way for scientists to get the cells they need to make induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells (3) from a routine blood sample. Previously scientists have struggled to find an appropriate type of cell in the blood that can be turned into a stem cell, and often make iPS cells from skin or other tissues, which can require a surgical procedure, like a biopsy.
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“STEM CELLS Translational Medicine’s inclusion in MEDLINE/PubMed is significant in enhancing the visibility of our authors’ work and to achieving the journal’s vision – to help speed expertly executed translations of emerging lab discoveries into legitimate clinical trials and bedside application which ultimately will improve patient outcomes,” said Managing Editor, Ann Murphy.
“Just as remarkable is the fact that the Journal has been fully accepted by MEDLINE within its first year of publication … a feat that few journals earn,” adds Anthony J. Atala, Editor.