Muscle Building Stem Cells for Regenerative Therapy

Responsible for producing the almost bursting biceps of body builders and the wash board abs of fitness fanatics, a new report confirms the existence of some uncommitted stem cells residing amongst those of the muscle. For people that suffer from muscular dystrophies and an assortment of other muscle-wasting diseases, the discovery could show the way to new muscle-regenerating therapies. These would include stem cell-replenishing drugs and cell transplantation regimens. According to researchers, these treatments could also serve a dual purpose by also keeping people strong as they age.

A mix of cells already dedicated to their muscular destiny and other cells that behave more like versatile stem cells make up part of the so called satellite stem cells. The breakthrough was made by an Ottawa Health Research Institute team led by Michael Rudnicki. The cells had commonly been considered by scientists as a homogeneous population of devoted muscle progenitors. In the lab, the regenerative reservoir of cells that mice have was successfully replenished when Rudnicki’s team injected the “satellite stem cells” into the muscles of the mice.

“We’ve found that there are two types of satellite cell–90% that are already committed to becoming muscle and another 10% with characteristics normally attributed to stem cells,” Rudnicki said. “It’s not been shown yet, but these muscle stem cells might even have the capacity to make other tissues, such as bone and fat.”

“We’ve also shown that these satellite stem cells, when transplanted into muscle, can repopulate the regenerative cell niche. This is a very significant advance in our understanding of satellite cell biology that will require us to rethink decades of research. It also opens new avenues for therapeutic treatment of muscular diseases.”

Each of which includes hundreds of nuclei, skeletal muscle fibers are essentially long tubular cells. Satellite cells are found in between the coating of glycoproteins and collagen that surrounds the muscle fiber. Responsible for the repair, growth, and maintenance of skeletal muscle after birth, the existence of satellite cells were first revealed in the 1960’s. When the stress of trauma or weight-bearing presents itself, the cells which are by and large quiet, jump into action.

Still, Rudnicki said that uncertainty still exists in regards to the mechanisms that control the development and identity of the satellite cells. Muscle cells that had changed back into a more primitive state by reverting or dedifferentiating was once thought to be the path that satellite cells followed from their original muscle cell state. This was suggested by earlier studies.

Isolated from mouse muscle, the molecular profiles of the satellite cells was closely observed by researchers in the new study.

Defined by the inactivity or activity of a gene called Myf-5, the satellite cells consist of two classes.

A significant difference in the satellite cells’ behavior was made clear by the genetic difference. A characteristic commonly seen among stem cells, asymmetric division, was observed in the satellite cells without active Myf-5. Exhibiting another Myf-5 positive cell and stem cell-like capacity for self renewal, the lopsided cell division produced one “daughter” like its parent.

The satellite cells continued on the path to becoming muscle tissue when they were injected into the muscles of mice with the Myf-5 switched on.

In contrast, transplantation of Myf-5 negative cells “extensively contributed to the satellite cell reservoir throughout the injected muscle.”

Diseased muscle can be directly transplanted with satellite stem cells. Researchers made this conclusion while noting that the identification of markers enabling their prospective isolation from human muscle tissue could be found in the molecular characterization of satellite stem cells.

“Alternatively,” they added, “understanding the molecular regulation of satellite stem cell symmetric versus asymmetric cell division will lead to identification of biologics or small drugs that specifically target the relevant pathway leading to satellite stem cell expansion.”

2007-05-31T00:00:00+00:00 May 31st, 2007|News, Stem Cell Research, Stem Cells, Stem Cells, Uncategorized|

False Hope Comes with Embryonic Stem Cells

Lobbying for the passage of a bill authorizing federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research, Rekha and others who have been affected by Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS), were in Washington D.C. earlier this month. On May 18th, Rekha wrote a column titled, “ALS Activists Fight for Research, Cling To Hope”. The material was infuriating and heartbreaking at the same time; Rekha believes that embryonic stem cells “may hold the key to finding a cure.” However, she was mistaken.

For the treatment of injuries and diseases, only adult stem cell have been proven effective.

Even the American College of Pediatricians (ACP) called for an end to embryonic stem-cell research, “which prolongs needless suffering by delaying the development of more promising adult stem-cell treatments and cures.” On May 14th, this entire medical organization backed up the fact that embryonic stem cells are just not necessary.

Exclusive use of adult stem cells has resulted in the successful treatment of dozens of conditions and diseases over the last decade. The ACP cites these strong pro-adult stem cell results further noting, “catastrophic results…producing the wrong tissue, forming tumors and triggering immune rejection,” when describing the abysmal failure that embryonic stem cell trials have produced. Asserting that it, “steals resources away from the established utility and potential of adult stem-cell research”; the medical group denounced embryonic stem cell research as a tremendous waste of money and resources.

Afflicted patients and their families continue their journey on a path that leads to nowhere because of people like U.S. Senator Tom Harkin who is a sponsor of the embryonic stem cell bill.

Heartless and cruel are only a few of the words being used to describe opponents of embryonic stem-cell research. But offering false promises to millions of desperate people who are suffering from diseases and conditions that could be treated with adult stem cells right now may be even more heartless.

2007-05-31T00:00:00+00:00 May 31st, 2007|Heart Failure, News, Stem Cell Research, Stem Cells, Uncategorized|

U.S. Citizens Denied at Home Leave Country for Stem Cell Treatment

Two years ago, Tori suffered brain injury when she was caught up in a car accident. She was left powerless to talk or walk, and her family decided to do anything they could to help her be who she once was. The opted for a trip to China for adult stem cell therapy. It is now three months after her treatment, and 16-year-old Tori can take a cookie out of her father’s hand. A task that would have only been a dream prior to the stem cell treatment.

Tori’s family is not alone with their frustration and impatience towards U.S. scientists. The number of American’s the feel the U.S. is too sluggish in determining whether stem cells are safe and effective is growing, and to get treatment, more are leaving the country as an alternative. Tori’s family chose China because of the limited options in the United States.

Tori’s treatment consisted of acupuncture, aggressive physical therapy, and 50 million adult stem cells which were spread over a course of five injection. The family paid $20,000 in advance for the therapy.

Tori’s father Tim says that it could take up to eight months to see progress. Her last injection was on February 12th. But already her chewing, eating, and swallowing have substantially improved.

The family hopes for even more improvement in Tori, who can now vocalize more and can finish of an entire apple.

Tori was trapped underwater for about 20 minutes when a car she was a passenger in rolled over and ended up in a canal. It was June 2005, and 14 year old Tori had dreams of becoming a Stanford educated doctor. She enjoyed snowboarding and dancing.

Tori’s story has helped other families to make the decision to travel overseas. The website prompted at least eight other families to make the decision. On Utah girl who suffered brain injury due to a car accident is currently at the same hospital in China with her family at this very moment.

Tori’s family plans to do another round of stem cells therapy next year.

“It is the thing that will help (Tori) the most eventually, I’m convinced of that,” said Tim, who urges increased funding for research.

“In the end, it’s just going to help so many people. I don’t see how we can not do it.”

2007-05-27T00:00:00+00:00 May 27th, 2007|News, Stem Cell Research, Stem Cells, Stem Cells, Uncategorized|

Adult Stem Cells Engineered to Produce Insulin

Friday, U.S. and British researchers reported that diabetes could be treated by using stem cells taken from the umbilical cords of newborns. The cells could be engineered to produce insulin.

Insulin-producing cells in the pancreas are damaged by diabetes. Researchers were able to take stem cells, expand them into a large number, and direct them to be similar to the insulin producing cells. The cells could potentially be used to fill the void left in the pancreas due to the damage that is caused by diabetes.

2007-05-25T00:00:00+00:00 May 25th, 2007|News, Stem Cell Research, Stem Cells, Stem Cells, Uncategorized|

3-Year-Old Fights Leukemia with Umbilical Cord Stem Cells

A stem cell transplant was the final option that a three-year old girl had to save her life. She is now secluded in an isolation unit of the same hospital she received stem cell treatment in.

A worldwide donor search was initiated when Eva was diagnosed with leukemia 5 months ago.

A compatible match was found in the United States, and bone marrow was created using the stem cells from the donor baby

2007-05-23T00:00:00+00:00 May 23rd, 2007|News, Stem Cell Research, Stem Cells, Stem Cells, Uncategorized|

Parkinson’s Disease Seemingly Cured with Indian Stem Cell Therapy

America citizen Andrew traveled to Manipal hospital in Bangalore for stem cell treatment and recovered from Parkinson’s disease after U.S. doctors were of no help.

The trip to India was a last resort for Andrew, who had been suffering with Parkinson’s for more than 15 years. Treatment at U.S. hospitals had provided zero results so he decided to try stem cells as a last go. His personal comfort and feeling of well-being have increased, but more noticeable to others is the fact that his tremors have reduced significantly and he can now walk without support one year following the treatment. The last few months have brought the elimination of his Parkinson’s medication as well. For those suffering with Parkinson’s disease, Andrew’s recovery will give them plenty of hope.

Said R Basil, M.D. and CEO, Manipal Health System, “The successful clinical outcomes from our stem cell research program have given us the confidence to share this new hope with the public at large so that a greater number of people can participate in the clinical research for getting relief from major diseases and disabilities.”

To determine the full ability of stem cells in treating disabilities and diseases that no current treatments offer much hope for is the goal for the team of accomplished stem cell research clinicians, led by Chief Scientific Officer of Stempeutics Research Pvt Ltd, Dr. Satish Totey. Using human adult stem cells, the development of stem cell based therapies is the goal of the Stem Cell Research Center.

While delivering his presentation about the remarkable recovery of Andrew, Dr. Venkataramana said, “Stem cell research seems to be promising in regenerating hope to cure PD. This will motivate innumerable patients across the world to explore this new modality. However, we need to observe the long-term clinical effects in large number of patients to decide its role in the treatment of the degenerative diseases.”

According to Dr. Nagendra Swamy, Group Director- Medical Services, Manipal Health Systems, “Stem cell research has attracted wide attention from all medical fields in the world. The research involving human pluripotent stem cells promises new treatment and possible hope for many devastating diseases. This research Centre will promote cutting edge research which can be translated into clinical applications. This would support the in treating the diseases affecting heart, brain, liver, kidney, bone, spinal cord and vascular. This promises to be the future of medicine in coming years and Manipal is proud to be a leader in this science.”

People over the age of 50 make up the majority of those suffering from Parkinson’s. Current treatments cannot halt the progression of the disease, but can only alleviate a few of the symptoms.

2007-05-22T00:00:00+00:00 May 22nd, 2007|Heart Disease, News, Stem Cell Research, Stem Cells, Uncategorized|

U.S. Researchers Still Question Stem Cell Therapy, But Can’t Deny Effectiveness

Some U.S. researchers warn that much remains unknown, still, local patients are going overseas to put their hopes and spend their money on stem cell treatment.

Currently, adult stem cells are being used in numerous clinical trials worldwide to establish their effectiveness in treating patients with cardiovascular diseases. 67 trials are acknowledged by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute for investigating how to regenerate damaged heart tissue. But a biotechnology firm is saying that they have already accomplished just that.

The company TheraVitae operates in Thailand and Israel, with pre and post treatment care performed by Dr. Zannos Grekos, a Bonita Springs cardiologist.

Stem cell researchers said that before putting their confidence in procedures like the ones Southwest Floridians are seeking, they want to discern much more about stem cells. The cardiovascular experts contacted for this report did not want to discuss TheraVitae directly.

“There are little niches here and there doing various types of treatments without much science,” said Dr. Carl Pepine at the University of Florida. UF is part of the Cardiovascular Cell Therapy Research, a five-member consortium conducting research with the backing of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Treating those diagnosed with heart failure and those who have had heart attacks using stem cells is the focus of Pepine’s research.

“Nobody knows what the proper dose is,” Pepine said. “How many cells should you give?”

How soon a patient should receive cells following a heart attack will also be investigated by Pepine’s study.

Sonia Skarlatos says that researchers are trying to determine which variety of stem cell is really responsible for tissue regeneration. Sonia is the acting director for the division of cardiovascular diseases at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

“We are still not sure what is the right cell, what is the right delivery and what is the right dose,” Skarlatos said.

Skarlatos says that it is tough to draw conclusions from the small-scale studies that have been conducted all over the world. Various doses of cells and different types have been used on patients who all have varying degrees of heart functionality.

“It makes it very hard to compare all the trials,” Skarlatos said.

But the one thing that Skarlatos does agree with is that stem cell treatment is safe. And that is good news for patients wanting to at least give the cells a shot at healing their ailments.

Part of the explanation that patients see progress could be due to the development of new vessels that stem cells encourage says Dr. Johnny Huard, the director of stem cell research at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. Huard said that too much vascular growth could also be a problem.

Huard is also curious to find out if other parts of the body could also be affected by stem cells injected into the heart.

“One thing is very important: You may inject cells in the heart, but are they migrating?” he said.

50-year-old Neim flew to Bangkok last November for stem cell treatment to heal his deteriorating heart.

He has gotten used to people and their questions about the treatment.

“(My cardiologist) just kept hoping for improvement. Finally, he broke the news. He gave me my time

2007-05-20T00:00:00+00:00 May 20th, 2007|Heart Failure, News, Stem Cell Research, Stem Cells, Uncategorized|

Stem Cells Regrow Hair, Baldness Treatment Possible

The pleas of millions of balding men could soon be answered.

Scientists have revealed for the first time that hair can be grown by coaxing stem cells.

A comb-over, a toupee, or a transplant, is what the 7.4 million balding Britons have to choose from if they are unhappy about the condition of their hair.

But they may have the chance to re-grow their lost hair thanks to advances in stem cell science; all inside of the next decade.

For the condition alopecia where hair falls out in patches, new treatments could result from the latest research as well.

New hair follicles were grown in adult mammals during the course of the study. The results have been published in the journal Nature.

Previously held viewpoints maintained that baldness resulted from the gradual death of hair follicles that were only formed before birth. But the research shows that the tiny structures can be developed by using stem cells later in life. This should open the door for new hair loss treatments.

While studying the wound healing process in mice, researchers made the discovery at the University of Pennsylvania.

Allowing new hair to develop, new hair follicles from beneath the new skin would form as the wound healed.

Capable of turning into different cells and tissues, stem cells were responsible for the formation of the follicles as close examination proved.

Usually only active in the womb, the use of a protein called wnt was imperative to the process. More hair grows as the level of the protein is increased. No hair grows in the absence of wnt.

Wound healing was also enhanced with the addition of wnt. Allowing new and completely functional follicles to form, it is thought that when the skin heals itself, it returns to a condition that is comparable to what is found in the developing fetus.

A similar treatment for humans could be developed. Researchers are confident of this even though all the work has involved only mice thus far.

For a wnt-based drug to be administered, the skin in the area would likely need to be grazed. This is because wounding the area seems to be crucial to the method.

New hair would more than likely need to be dyed to match the color of existing hair because all the hair that has been grown so far has been white. But any cure for baldness should not be expected for at least a decade since a two year wait stands in the way just to begin the first human trials.

Experts have described the breakthrough as “remarkable”.

“Up to now we thought that the number of hair follicles we have is set before we were born and can only go downhill from there,” said Dr. Denis Headon, a developmental biologist from Manchester University.

“This work shows that new hair follicles are made in adult skin, at least when it is healing a wound. The implication is that it might be simpler than we thought to make new hair follicles as a treatment for hair loss.”

A series of injections may be a stand in option for those unwilling to wait for the treatment to come to market. British scientists believe other remedies such as this would appear on the market more quickly.

2007-05-17T00:00:00+00:00 May 17th, 2007|News, Stem Cell Research, Stem Cells, Stem Cells, Uncategorized|

UK/Israeli Join Efforts to Develop Stem Cell Therapies for Lung Disease

Aimed at developing cell therapies for lung regeneration and repair, Israeli and UK stem cell specialists announced collaborative efforts today.

Working with clinicians at the UK based Papworth Hospital, the Israeli Gamida Cell and the UK NovaThera Ltd. will combine their expertise and technology. For tissue regeneration and the treatment of blood diseases, Gamida uses proprietary technologies to expand the populations of hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells for the development of therapeutics from cord blood. Applications for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine by applying stem cell biology and bio-materials is the specialty of NovaThera.

Using cord blood stem cells that have been expanded with Gamida

2007-05-16T00:00:00+00:00 May 16th, 2007|News, Stem Cell Research, Stem Cells, Stem Cells, Uncategorized|