Stem cells used to treat a brain disease

Summary

While this latest research is a proof of concept, it’s a pretty impressive and important one. Scientists started out putting stem cells into mouse brains that were genetically modified to produce less myelin, essentially an electrical insulator of neuronal connections, and thus have various cognitive and motor deficits (abstract). Similar problems plague people through various demyelination diseases of the central nervous system (CNS), like multiple sclerosis, or of the peripheral nervous system (PNS), like Guillain-BarrĂ© syndrome. New cell growth was detected in the mouse brains, with a great proportion of the new cells being oligodendrocytes which are the cells responsible for covering neuronal connections with myelin (in the CNS). Substantial additional myelination was also observed with no clear negative effects.

Following these results the scientists ran a case study (abstract) on 4 boys with the genetic disorder Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease which produces defective oligodendrocytes. The scientists injected stems cells, along with immunosuppression drugs, into the boys and saw substantial improvement in myelination near the implantation sites with no apparent adverse effects. Future studies will involve more patients and hopefully will lead to treatments of a number of highly debilitating diseases.

For another review ...

While this latest research is a proof of concept, it’s a pretty impressive and important one. Scientists started out putting stem cells into mouse brains that were genetically modified F1.mediumto produce less myelin, essentially an electrical insulator of neuronal connections, and thus have various cognitive and motor deficits (abstract). Similar problems plague people through various demyelination diseases of the central nervous system (CNS), like multiple sclerosis, or of the peripheral nervous system (PNS), like Guillain-BarrĂ© syndrome. New cell growth was detected in the mouse brains, with a great proportion of the new cells being oligodendrocytes which are the cells responsible for covering neuronal connections with myelin (in the CNS). Substantial additional myelination was also observed with no clear negative effects.

Following these results the scientists ran a case study (abstract) on 4 boys with the genetic disorder Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease which produces defective oligodendrocytes. The scientists injected stems cells, along with immunosuppression drugs, into the boys and saw substantial improvement in myelination near the implantation sites with no apparent adverse effects. Future studies will involve more patients and hopefully will lead to treatments of a number of highly debilitating diseases.

For another review of the studies, see this article from the LA Times.

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