Multiple Sclerosis (MS) affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide. It is a progressive autoimmune disease which targets a patient’s neurological system. To date, drugs designed to slow the progression of this debilitating disease have not lived up to their promise.
As an alternative to medications, a patient’s faulty immune system can be eradicated by chemotherapy and then reset by the same patient’s Blood Stem Cells. This treatment is referred to as “Autologous Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation” (AHSCT). In a study published this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association Neurology the authors reviewed data from 281 patients who underwent AHSCT for MS between 1995 to 2006. Most of the patients included in the study had aggressive forms of MS. The study authors led by Dr. Paolo Muraro of the Imperial College of London specifically examined the rate of patient survival and lack of disease progression.
The study results showed a mortality of 2.8%, however almost half (46%) of the patients did not show progression of their symptoms from Multiple Sclerosis. The authors believe the results to be very encouraging and call for further larger scale clinical trials using AHSCT for MS.
1. Paolo A. Muraro, MD et al. Long-term Outcomes After Autologous Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation for Multiple Sclerosis. JAMA Neurol., February 2017 DOI: 10.1001/jamaneurol.2016.5867
A new study from the Perelman School of Medicine and University of Pennsylvania published in the Journal Stem Cell this month revealed that adult stem cells that were collected from human fat have the potential to be used in anti-aging treatments. These Stem Cells are referred to as “Adipose Derived Stem Cells” and include a mix of unique Stem Cells commonly available in human fat tissue.
The research study led by Dr. Ivona Percec from the Perleman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania examined the normal aging process of Fat Stem Cells, referred to as “chronological aging”. The study showed that fat stem cells were able to make more proteins as once thought, which gives them the ability to replicate and maintain their stability. “Our study shows these cells are very robust, even when they are collected from older patients,” said Dr. Percec. Compared to other cells such as skin cells (fibroblasts), fat stem cells were able to multiply at the same rate in older and younger individuals.
This finding may imply that these particular stem cells are able to resist the aging process more than others and may be useful as an anti-aging treatment.
As a next step in this ongoing study, researchers are hoping to find ways to make these cells even less resistant to aging by manipulating the stem cell’s DNA structure. Stay tuned for more.
Adipose Derived Stem Cells
Glioblastoma Cancer Cells
Researchers from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill have conducted successful experiments to use Stem Cells as a Cancer fighting tool for an aggressive form of brain cancer. Glioblastoma is one of the deadliest forms of brain cancer, with a median survival of less than 18 months. Currently available treatment options such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiation are generally unsuccessful.
The researchers, led by Dr. Shawn Hingtgen from the department of Neuropathology at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, had inserted human Glioblastoma Cancer Cells into mice. As a next step, the same patient’s skin cells, called “fibroblasts” were converted to Nerve Stem Cells (h-iNSC). This process, by itself, is revolutionary and involves specific, recently discovered proteins, called “transcription factors”. These factors can literally reprogram a patient’s skin cell in the laboratory into a fully functional Nerve Stem Cell, which can then be delivered back to the patient. The process takes only a few days. In the case of this study, the Nerve Stem Cells were also genetically programmed to track and destroy Glioblastoma Cancer Cells.
The study results showed that the specially programmed Nerve Stem Cells were highly efficient at tracking killing the Cancer Cells. The Glioblastoma tumors shrunk 250-fold over the course of 3 weeks, which by itself more than doubled the survivor time. In a related experiment, Dr. Hingtgen and his team used the same Nerve Stem Cells to deliver an additional drug to the Cancer Cells, which further improved the treatment.
The team from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill believes that the finding are so convincing and groundbreaking that human trials are only one or two years away. They fully recognize that new treatments for patient afflicted by Glioblastoma are desperately needed. Neural Stem Cells show great promise.
Neural Stem Cells derived from Skin Cells
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