Stem cell understanding advances.

Discuss stem cells, adult and embryonic, and their therapeutic potential for MS here.

Stem cell understanding advances.

Postby TwistedHelix » Mon Mar 12, 2007 6:48 am

I posted this on the General Discussion board, but suppose it should be here:
This must be the most encouraging news about stem cells I've read in a long time...

[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 11-Mar-2007
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Contact: Nancy Beddingfield
nbeddingfield@burnham.org
858-646-3146
Burnham Institute
Stem cells act through multiple mechanisms to benefit mice with neurodegenerative disease
Stem cell study, including the first successful use of human embryonic stem cells in a degenerative disease, lays groundwork for clinical bridge

(La Jolla, CA, March 11, 2007) Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) hold great promise for benefiting degenerative diseases, and do so by invoking multiple mechanisms. Such cells can be grown in a manner compatible with clinical use (i.e., without animal feeder layers) and even without the need for immunosuppression. These were a few of a number of conclusions arrived at by an international collaboration led by Evan Y. Snyder, M.D., Ph.D., and spearheaded by a member of his lab, Jean-Pyo Lee, Ph.D., of the Burnham Institute for Medical Research ("Burnham"). The study, to be published in Nature Medicine, will be made available by advanced publication at the journal's website on March 11, 2007.

To determine whether stem cell biology might play a role in benefiting degenerative diseases, the investigators first chose to approach, as proof-of-concept, a mouse model of a representative lethal neurodegenerative disease. Next, they used mouse neural stem cells (NSCs), a type of "adult" stem cell, to establish the parameters of what might or might not be achievable in this disease. Then, having demonstrated success with mouse cells, they extended those insights to stem cells of human origin, both human neural stem cells and human embryonic stem cells, and, in fact, had the opportunity, for the first time, to compare those two types of controversial stem cells head-to-head in the same model. The results, described in more detail below, in fact prove to be the first successful use of human embryonic stem cells in treating a degenerative disease, significantly preserving function and extending life.

The mouse model chosen falls in a class of genetic diseases that afflicts 1 in 5000 patients, typically children (called lysosomal storage diseases, described in more detail below), but which is often used to model an array of adult neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's, ALS, Alzheimer's - particularly those with a genetic component. The mouse used here has mutation in a gene that makes the housekeeping enzyme hexosaminidase ("hex") deficient and, therefore, has Sandhoff's Disease, a lethal genetic disease related to Tay-Sachs Disease. When stem cells were implanted -- at simply one time point -- into brains of newborn Sandhoff mice, the onset of symptoms was delayed, well-being and motor function was preserved, and lifespan was extended by >70%.

The researchers discovered that their implanted neural stem cells, which migrated and integrated extensively throughout the brain, did much more than replace brain tissue destroyed by the disease. Some of the transplanted cells replaced damaged nerve cells and transmitted nerve impulses, offering the first evidence that stem cell-derived nerve cells may integrate electrically and functionally into a diseased brain. The transplanted cells also boosted the brain's supply of the enzyme Hex, which reduced the lipid accumulations in the treated animals. The experimental treatment also dampened the inflammation that typically occurs in the brains of most degenerative diseases, including Sandhoff's, and likely contributes to disease progression.

"Our studies suggest that functional neuronal replacement can be complemented and, under some conditions, eclipsed by a range of other stem cell actions that nevertheless exert a number of critical stabilizing forces," said Dr. Snyder, director of Stem Cells and Regeneration at Burnham. "In fact, our study offers the first evidence that stem cells employ multiple mechanisms -- not just cell replacement - which collaborate to benefit disease. These findings also raise the possibility - somewhat counter-intuitively -- that stem cells may inherently exert an anti-inflammatory influence in degenerative diseases," said Snyder.

To demonstrate that a better understanding of the fundamental mechanisms of stem cell action may permit the development of rational combined synergistic therapies, the investigators then gave the mice a simple oral drug that permitted the amount of enzyme provided by the engrafted stem cells to work even more efficiently by presenting them with a smaller burden of material to metabolize. The lifespan of the mice doubled. (Neither treatment could work as effectively on its own. In fact, the effect was more than simply additive). This was a demonstration that stem cell efficacy could be enhanced even without the need for genetic engineering. (The drug, a glycosphingolipid biosynthesis inhibitor, is in a class of compounds called "substrate reduction therapy" drugs.) This part of the study not only represented the first "multidisciplinary" use of stem cells against a degenerative disease, but also highlighted the fact that, in the future, the most successful therapies - including those employing stem cells -- will likely invoke the use of multiple strategies in concert. Indeed, the stem cell may be the "glue" that ultimately holds these therapies together in an effective manner by virtue of its fundamental biology.

The researchers then sought to extend their insights to the use of human stem cells - either stem cells turned into neural progenitors from human embryonic stem cells - or isolated directly from the nervous system (called "adult" stem cells to distinguish them from embryonic stem cells even though they are taken from developing brain tissue). Both types of human stem cells were actually somewhat more effective than the mouse neural stem cells. And, they were equally as good as each other - in the first head-to-head comparison ever done between embryonic and "adult" stem cells, although the embryonic stem cells were somewhat easier to "scale up" into large quantities. Both types of human stem cells invoked the same range of multiple, collaborative mechanisms. Neither type of human stem cell created tumors, deformation, a worsening of symptoms, or gave rise to inappropriate cells types. Neither cell type was rejected by the immune system. In fact, no immunosuppression was needed at all. Finally, the human embryonic stem cells were grown without mouse feeder layers and in a "defined" culture medium that is compatible with clinical use and demonstrating for the first time that such preparations are consistent with a therapeutic impact.

Sandhoff results from a genetic mutation that reduces the body's supply of an enzyme, called hexosaminidase ("hex"), used by brain cells to metabolize excess fatty material called lipids. Onset is typically at six months in human infants. The accumulation of lipids in brain tissue destroys the brain cells instrumental in controlling and coordinating body movement and results in inexorable deterioration of the brain and spinal cord. Children suffering with Sandhoff rarely see their sixth birthday. Sandhoff mice are similarly affected. Tay-Sachs is predominant to Ashkenazi Jewish populations, while Sandhoff, a severe form of Tay-Sachs, is not limited to any ethnic group. Both diseases are marked with deficient Hex enzyme functioning and are among a known group of about 50 diseases rooted in the inability to metabolize lipids or other materials. While Sandhoff and Tay-Sachs are relatively rare, one person in 5,000 is affected by a disease that falls into a category of lysosomal storage diseases.

Currently there is no treatment for Sandhoff or Tay-Sachs. Given that the human stem cells used in this study-both human neural and embryonic stem cells-were safe and effective in so many mice, the researchers believe that their study may serve as a springboard for development into a clinical trial.

These diseases are part of a much more common group of diseases called "neurogenetic diseases". These findings contribute fundamental basic knowledge about stem cell biology that will help inform medical scientists in their quest for understanding diseases such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, ALS, and a host of other neurological diseases.

"Dr. Snyder's team has extended the promise of stem cell therapies to children with special-needs, including those with Sandhoff disease." said Fia Richmond, founder of Children's Neurobiological Solutions Foundation and mother of a brain-injured child. "The CNS Foundation is proud to have contributed major funding for this research along with A-T Children's Project on behalf of the 14 million special-needs children in this country alone."

###

This study is the culmination of a long-standing collaboration between Drs. Frances Platt and Mylvaganam Jeyakumar of the University of Oxford in Oxford, UK and the Drs. Evan Snyder and Jean-Pyo Lee of Burnham.

Support for this study includes grants from the National Institute of General Medicine, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and National Institute of Child Health Development, of National Institutes of Health; the Glycobiology Institute, University of Oxford; and the Wellcome Trust. Private philanthropy played a significant role in supporting these studies, with funding from National Tay-Sachs and Allied Diseases Foundation; the Late-Onset Tay-Sachs Foundation; Children's Neurobiological Solutions; the A-T Children's Project; the Barbara Anderson Foundation for Brain Repair; Project ALS; March of Dimes; and Hunter's Hope.

About Burnham Institute for Medical Research

Burnham Institute for Medical Research conducts world-class collaborative research dedicated to finding cures for human disease, improving quality of life, and thus creating a legacy for its employees, partners, donors, and community. The La Jolla, California campus was established as a nonprofit, public benefit corporation in 1976 and is now home to three major centers: a National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center, the Del E. Webb Center for Neurosciences and Aging, and the Infectious and Inflammatory Disease Center. Burnham today employs over 750 people and ranks consistently among the world's top 20 research institutes. In 2006, Burnham established a presence at the University of California, Santa Barbara, led by Dr. Erkki Ruoslahti, Distinguished Professor. Burnham is also establishing a campus at Lake Nona in Orlando, Florida that will focus on diabetes and obesity research and will expand the Institute's drug discovery capabilities. For additional information about Burnham and to learn about ways to support its research, visit www.burnham.org.


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Dom.
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Postby Toyoterry » Mon Mar 12, 2007 1:46 pm

No immunosuppression ? Is that as significant as I think it is?
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References to "degenerative disease"

Postby lyndacarol » Mon Mar 12, 2007 7:02 pm

Tt--I think it is VERY significant! In this and other papers the reference is to "degenerative diseases." I think there is a swing from thinking MS is an autoimmune disease to neurodegenerative. I expect the drug companies will jump on that wagon soon.
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Postby CureOrBust » Tue Mar 13, 2007 12:43 am

Toyoterry wrote:No immunosuppression ? Is that as significant as I think it is?
I thought it has always been known that embryo stem cells didnt require immunosuppression.
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Embryonic stem cells

Postby lyndacarol » Tue Mar 13, 2007 4:40 am

Cure, I always thought embryonic stem cells worked like any other transplant (not from your own body) and WOULD require anti-rejection drugs (immunosuppression) for the rest of your life. If I'm wrong, it wouldn't be the first time!
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Postby CureOrBust » Wed Mar 14, 2007 1:59 am

Nope, your right.

http://www.bioethics-today.org/archives/files/Embryonicstemcells2005main.htm
August 2005
Embryonic stem cells trigger immune rejection
August 29 - Scientists from Stanford University in the States and Hannover Medical School in Germany have found that embryonic stem cells are rejected by the recipient's immune system after being implanted. Previously researchers have speculated about the possibility that embryonic stem cells may have an immune-privileged state, but new research shows that any future use of ESC is likely to require the use of systemic immunosuppression. This is a major disadvantage. Adult stem cells by contrast do not require immunosuppression if they are taken from the patient's own body. European Journal of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery Volume 28, Issue 3, September 2005, Pages 461-466
Corethics

I obviously was working from something I read much before this.

And this site suggests another way around it:
http://www.reeve.uci.edu/anatomy/stemcells.php
Many potential stem cells therapies will require immunosuppression, as transplanted stem cells would be seen as "not-self." Another way around this is to use somatic nuclear transfer to create stem cells that the body would recognize as self, and thus people receiving transplants would not need immunosuppression.
I didnt research what "somatic nuclear transfer" actually is.
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Postby Toyoterry » Wed Mar 14, 2007 2:53 pm

If I ever need a transplant I've got a perfect source since I have an identical twin. The bad part is he is having MS symptoms too but has yet to be diagnosed. So much for his stem cells but I guess he's got some other organs they could harvest for me.
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Postby TwistedHelix » Thu Mar 15, 2007 7:16 am

Don't quote me on this, but I'm sure I've read somewhere about experiments in which stem cell transplants generate new tissue, yet after a certain amount of time, the new tissue is genetically identical to the recipient and NOT the donor. It's as if the stem cells grow, then they are gradually replaced, (rejected?), by the body's own cells using the stem cells as a kind of bridge. This article doesn't mention anything like that, but it is a pathway which would obviate the need for immunosuppression.

By the way TT, is your twin brother aware of your evil intentions towards his organs?!

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Postby Toyoterry » Thu Mar 15, 2007 3:30 pm

Absoulutely! Competition is a byword for twins. Trouble is while I've been working out and eating right he has been systematically degrading his organs by his bad habits. I think he's doing it as a defense manuever.
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