Monday, 14 April 2014

Center for Joint Regeneration in Arizona now offers stem cell procedures for arthritis, tendonitis and ligament injuries

Center for Joint Regeneration in Arizona
The orthopedic stem cell clinic in Arizona, Center for Joint Regeneration, is now offering stem cell procedures for arthritis, tendonitis and ligament injuries. The procedures have the ability to provide pain relief and help patients avoid the need for joint replacement or soft tissue surgery.

There are two Board Certified, Fellowship Trained Orthopedic Doctors at the Center for Joint Regeneration. Drs. Adam Farber and Sumit Dewanjee offer stem cell procedures for all types of joint arthritis along with soft tissue injuries. This includes hip, knee and shoulder arthritis along with rotator cuff tendonitis and tears, knee injuries and elbow tendonitis.

Silly Putty ingredient promotes stem cell growth

Researchers cultured stem cells on ultrafine carpets made
of  microscopic posts of a key ingredient in Silly Putty.
Credit: Ye Tao, Rose Anderson, Yubing Sun, Jianping Fu
The sponginess of the environment where human embryonic stem cells are growing affects the type of specialized cells they eventually become, a new study shows.

The researchers coaxed human embryonic stem cells to turn into working spinal cord cells more efficiently by growing the cells on a soft, ultrafine carpet made of a key ingredient in Silly Putty.

This study is the first to directly link physical, as opposed to chemical, signals to human embryonic stem cell differentiation. Differentiation is the process of the source cells morphing into the body’s more than 200 cell types that become muscle, bone, nerves, and organs, for example.

Jianping Fu, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at University of Michigan, says the findings raise the possibility of a more efficient way to guide stem cells to differentiate and potentially provide therapies for diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease), Huntington’s, or Alzheimer’s.

Friday, 11 April 2014

BrainStorm granted additional patent for its autologous stem cell technology

BrainStorm Cell Therapeutics, a developer of adult stem cell technologies for neurodegenerative diseases, today announced that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has granted the company an additional patent for its autologous stem cell technology. The patent covers the production method of the company's proprietary stem cells induced to secrete significantly elevated levels of neurotrophic factors for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.

Yale researchers search for earliest roots of psychiatric disorders

image of human brain
Credit: Michael Helfenbein
Newborns whose mothers were exposed during pregnancy to any one of a variety of environmental stressors -- such as trauma, illness, and alcohol or drug abuse -- become susceptible to various psychiatric disorders that frequently arise later in life. However, it has been unclear how these stressors affect the cells of the developing brain prenatally and give rise to conditions such as schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and some forms of autism and bipolar disorders.

Now, Yale University researchers have identified a single molecular mechanism in the developing brain that sheds light on how cells may go awry when exposed to a variety of different environmental insults. The findings, to be published in the May 7 issue of the journal Neuron, suggest that different types of stressors prenatally activate a single molecular trigger in brain cells that may make exposed individuals susceptible to late-onset neuropsychiatric disorders.

Researchers identify transcription factors distinguishing glioblastoma stem cells

Massachusetts General Hospital logo
The activity of four transcription factors – proteins that regulate the expression of other genes – appears to distinguish the small proportion of glioblastoma cells responsible for the aggressiveness and treatment resistance of the deadly brain tumor. The findings by a team of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigators, which will be published in the April 24 issue of Cell and are receiving advance online release, support the importance of epigenetics – processes controlling whether or not genes are expressed – in cancer pathology and identify molecular circuits that may be targeted by new therapeutic approaches.

"We have identified a code of 'molecular switches' that control a very aggressive subpopulation of brain cancer cells, so-called glioblastoma stem cells. Understanding what drives these aggressive cells will give us insights into alternative ways of eliminating them and potentially changing the course of this very deadly tumor." said Mario SuvĂ , MD, PhD, of the MGH Department of Pathology and Center for Cancer Research, co-lead author of the Cell article.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Mesenchymal stem cells show promise in stroke treatment

Neurologist Dr. Steven Cramer
In an analysis of published research, neurologist Dr. Steven Cramer and biomedical engineer Weian Zhao identified 46 studies that examined the use of mesenchymal stromal cells -- a type of multipotent adult stem cells mostly processed from bone marrow -- in animal models of stroke. They found mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) to be significantly better than control therapy in 44 of the studies.

Importantly, the effects of these cells on functional recovery were robust regardless of the dosage, the time the MSCs were administered relative to stroke onset or the method of administration. (The cells helped even if given a month after the event and whether introduced directly into the brain or injected via a blood vessel.)

"Stroke remains a major cause of disability, and we are encouraged that the preclinical evidence shows MSCs efficacy with ischemic stroke. MSCs are of particular interest because they come from bone marrow, which is readily available, and are relatively easy to culture. In addition, they already have demonstrated value when used to treat other human diseases." said Cramer, a professor of neurology and leading stroke expert.

Solving platelet 'puzzle' unveils blood disorder link

Dr Ashley Ng photo
Dr Ashley Ng 
Melbourne researchers have solved a puzzle as to how an essential blood-making hormone stimulates production of the blood clotting cells known as platelets.

Platelets are small, disc shaped clear cell fragments which are essential for stopping bleeding. They are produced by their ‘parent’ cells, called megakaryocytes.

The discovery, made by scientists at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, identified how bone marrow cells could become overstimulated and produce too many platelets. In blood diseases such as essential thrombocythemia, too many platelets can lead to clogging of the blood vessels, causing clots, heart attack or strokes.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

U.Va. researchers turn embryonic stem cells into a fish embryo

zebrafish from stem cells
The U.Va. researchers have created a zebrafish embryo
using stem cells.
Researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have overcome one of the greatest challenges in biology and taken a major step toward being able to grow whole organs and tissues from stem cells.

By manipulating the appropriate signaling, the U.Va. researchers have turned embryonic stem cells into a fish embryo, essentially controlling embryonic development.

The research will have dramatic impact on the future use of stem cells to better the human condition, providing a framework for future studies in the field of regenerative medicine aimed at constructing tissues and organs from populations of cultured pluripotent cells.

Light-activated neurons from stem cells restore function in paralyzed mice

A new method to artificially control muscles using light, with the potential to restore function to muscles paralyzed by conditions such as motor neuron disease and spinal cord injury, has been developed by scientists at UCL and King's College London.

The technique involves transplanting specially-designed motor neurons created from stem cells into injured nerve branches. These motor neurons are designed to react to pulses of blue light, allowing scientists to fine-tune muscle control by adjusting the intensity, duration and frequency of the light pulses.

In the study, published this week in Science, the team demonstrated the method in mice in which the nerves that supply muscles in the hind legs were injured. They showed that the transplanted stem cell-derived motor neurons grew along the injured nerves to connect successfully with the paralyzed muscles, which could then be controlled by pulses of blue light.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Evidence indicates that VSELs from human adult tissues are multipotent

Rare, very small embryonic-like stem cells (VSELs) isolated from human adult tissues could provide a new source for developing regenerative therapies to repair complex tissues damaged by disease or trauma. The ability of these most-primitive, multipotent stem cells to differentiate into bone, neurons, connective tissue, and other cell types, and the proper criteria for identifying and isolating VSELs, are described in two new papers published in Stem Cells and Development, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers.

Russ Taichman and coauthors, University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) and NeoStem (New York, NY), implanted human VSELs into the cavity created by a cranial wound and provided the first demonstration that they could generate tissue structures containing multiple cell types.

New hope for the treatment of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Kevin Eggan Harvard Stem Cell
Kevin Eggan
Harvard stem cell researchers have discovered that a recently approved medication for epilepsy might be a meaningful treatment for patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, a uniformly fatal neurodegenerative disorder. The researchers are now collaborating with Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) to design an initial clinical trial testing the safety of the treatment in ALS patients.

The investigators all caution that a great deal of work needs to be done to assure the safety and efficacy of the treatment in ALS patients before physicians should start offering it.

The work, laid out in two related advance online publications in April by Cell Stem Cell and Cell Reports, is the long-term fruit of studies by Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) principal faculty member Kevin Eggan, who in a 2008 Science paper first raised the possibility of using ALS patient-derived stem cells to better understand the disease and identify therapeutic targets for new drugs.

Cell-surface receptor offers promising breakthrough for patients with pancreatic cancer

Liang xu pancreatic cancer
Liang Xu
Pancreatic cancer rates in the U.S. have been on the rise over the past decade, and the disease takes a very heavy toll. The American Cancer Society estimates that in the last year alone about 45,220 people were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, while 38,460 died of the illness.

Numbers like this are of course discouraging. However, a researcher at the University of Kansas is striving to develop new hope for pancreatic cancer patients.

Liang Xu, Ph.D. member of the KU Cancer Center's Drug Discovery, Delivery and Experimental Therapeutics program and associate professor of molecular biosciences at KU, has discovered that targeting a cell-surface receptor called "CD44s" can block pancreatic tumor formation and recurrence after radiotherapy.

Pancreatic cancer rates in the U.S. have been rising over the past decade, and the disease takes a very heavy toll. The American Cancer Society estimates that in the last year alone about 45,220 people were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, while 38,460 died of the illness.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Researchers find a better way to grow motor neurons from stem cells

University of Illinois stem cell team
Prof Fei Wang (left), scholar Qiuhao Qu (center)  and
engineering professor Jianjun Cheng
Researchers reported today that they can generate human motor neurons from stem cells much more quickly and efficiently than previous methods allowed.

The finding, described in Nature Communications, will aid efforts to model human motor neuron development, and to understand and treat spinal cord injuries and motor neuron diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

The new method involves adding critical signaling molecules to precursor cells a few days earlier than previous methods specified. This increases the proportion of healthy motor neurons derived from stem cells (from 30 to 70 percent) and cuts in half the time required to do so.