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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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Blood Carries Stem Cells to Brain
16 April 2003 (All day)
Injecting adult neural stem cells into the bloodstream of mice eases the debilitating symptoms of a disease similar to multiple sclerosis (MS). Although any application for humans is uncertain, scientists are intrigued by the possibility of simply delivering these cells via the bloodstream, rather than into the brain.
MS prompts the body's immune system to attack the myelin sheaths that help guide signals between neurons. Without sufficient myelin, patients develop brain lesions, have trouble walking, and suffer fatigue. Today, drugs that suppress the immune system are the treatment of choice, but researchers are also experimenting with stem cells and other cell types to rebuild the myelin sheath. Injected right into a lesion, such cells can fix the problem. The trouble is that patients tend to have many lesions, rendering direct injection impracticable.
Neurologist Gianvito Martino and his colleagues at San Raffaele Hospital in Milan, Italy, wanted to know whether adult neural stem cells could migrate to multiple brain lesions. To find out, they gave these cells to mice suffering from experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, a disease that closely resembles MS. Injected into either the bloodstream or spinal fluid, the stem cells found their way to the damaged areas where they turned into the more specialized oligodendrocytes cells and rebuilt the myelin sheaths. Forty-five days after injection, treated mice could walk again, the scientists report in the 17 April issue of Nature. The successful repair of myelin by intravenously injected neuronal stem cells could be a big step toward an improved therapy for humans, says Martino.
“The notion that you can target not just focal lesions but disseminated lesions using this type of delivery system is very powerful,” says Ian Duncan, a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. “That's what I think the real take-home message would be.”