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.
Treatment options for gliomas, the most common type of primary brain tumors, are very limited due to their diffuse invasive nature and their ability to evade conventional chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Stem cells have shown great promise as a therapy, but how best to deliver them to the tumor site has proven a challenge.
The most frequently used method, surgical implantation, has a low survival rate for the stem cells plus the procedure itself can lead to complications such as inflammation. Injecting the cells into the blood stream is another way, but it carries an increased risk of the cells accumulating in peripheral organs, which could cause side effects and also means that not enough of the stem cells are getting to the targeted tumor.
“Researchers have been seeking a way to control the initiating cancer stem cell population, considered key to realizing the long-term survival of these patients,” said Drs. Chifumi Kitanaka and Atsushi Sato, who led the team of scientists from Yamagata University in Japan on the study. “Previous reports have underscored the idea that differentiation therapy, which involves controlling stem cells’ development into particular cells or tissue, is a promising approach to depleting the tumor-initiating cells in glioblastomas and in preventing their recurrence.”
Monika Ehrhart-Bornstein, Ph.D., of Dresden University of Technology’s Center for Regenerative Therapies (Germany), was a lead investigator on the team. “Chromaffin progenitor cells seem to be a promising cell source due to the potential use in autologous transplantations, which avoids the possibility of immune rejection,” she explained. “Our team had recently described how we isolated chromaffin progenitor cells from the adrenal glands of cows and then treated them so that they differentiated into functional neurons. In this subsequent study, we wanted to learn whether these cells could also be obtained from adult human adrenal glands and then forced to differentiate into neurons, as a prerequisite for future use in transplantation trials.”
"In China, hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection accounts for the highest proportion of liver failure cases. While liver transplantation is considered the standard treatment, it has several drawbacks including a limited number of donors, long waiting lists, high cost and multiple complications. Our study shows that mesenchymal stem cell (MSCs) transfusions might be a good, safe alternative," said Fu-Sheng Wang, Ph.D., M.D., the study's lead author and director of the Research Center for Biological Therapy (RCBT) in Beijing.
Now, researchers at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn., think they might have found an answer. Reporting in the October issue of STEM CELLS Translational Medicine, they detail a low-cost, highly-effective way to detect and then purge at-risk cells during an early stage in the differentiation process.
Scientists testing the treatment on brain-injured rats grafted neural stem cells from the brain's subventricular zone into the hippocampus in one group of animals but not another. Mood, memory and mobility significantly improved in the rats that received the stem cells.
"Our procedure brought back key functions in the part of the brain that regulates emotional outlook, learning, memory and spatial navigation," said Ashok Shetty, director of neurosciences at the Texas A&M institute, senior investigator who helped lead the study.
"We also learned that the neural stem cells we grafted into the brain's hippocampus had the ability to survive, migrate, differentiate and thrive where there had been neural loss before."
Several recent clinical trials have shown how stem cells can help the heart heal after an attack, but to date the investigations have focused on transplanting cells directly into the site of the attack itself. However, a heart attack has a ripple effect, much like how an earthquake reaches beyond its epicenter to affect outlying regions, too. As the heart attempts to shift the workload from the damaged section to surrounding healthy muscle, the tissue abutting the attack site gets caught in the middle. This often results in the tissue being overstressed and leads to cardiac failure.
In this new study, the researchers evaluated the effects of expanding the stem cell treatment beyond the heart attack site to include the surrounding region.
Pluripotent stem cells can develop into various kinds of cells in the body, such as muscle, blood vessels, and bone cells; however, there are several barriers to culturing adult stem cells in a petri dish. It has been especially difficult to generate blood stem cells in the lab without using animal serum, which can carry viruses that interfere with cell reproduction and create other complications.
Schiedlmeier and Klump used mouse embryonic stem cells to grow blood-forming stem cells in low-oxygen conditions in the lab without using any serum or supportive cells known as stroma. When they transplanted the blood-forming cells into mice, they found the cells were capable of rebuilding the mice's blood-forming system.