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.
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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.
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."