Karen Turner PHD | Have Scientists Now Confirmed Stem Cells As A Possible Treatment For Stroke?
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Have Scientists Now Confirmed Stem Cells As A Possible Treatment For Stroke?

Have Scientists Now Confirmed Stem Cells As A Possible Treatment For Stroke?

Have Scientists Now Confirmed Stem Cells As A Possible Treatment For Stroke?

Have Scientists Now Confirmed Stem Cells As A Possible Treatment For Stroke?

by BoomerYearbook.com

Six years ago, scientists showed that stem cells had promise in treating strokes. They tracked the body’s own stem cells during brain repair; learned how to target stroke-damaged regions; expanded tests on animals; further refined their methods; and finally we have today’s study, in which the cells finally behaved with the reliability and safety that scientists need to achieve in people.

Stem cells have the potential to regenerate body parts. In prior stroke studies on animals, stem cells injected into the brain or bloodstream migrated to sites of damage, apparently drawn by signals from damaged cells. This migration may happen because the repair pathways initiated by the damaged cells are similar to pathways triggered during embryonic development, where stem cells are key, explains Re Neuron co-founder and chief scientific officer John Sinden. A major concern about stem cells centers on how unstable they can become when grown in the lab. Re Neuron can generate large numbers of stable cell lines by engineering cells with a modified version of the gene c-myc. This gene promotes cell division while activating genes that prevent chromosomal abnormalities. The scientists can switch c-myc on or off by introducing or withholding a synthetic compound.

Re Neuron developed cells for brain damage by splicing their modified c-myc into human fetal brain tissue obtained from a U.S. cell bank. They tested 120 neural stem cell lines in the lab for stability and robustness and in animals for the capacity to engraft with minimal immune rejection. Two lines showed potential: ReN001, which Re Neuron is aiming at stroke, and ReN005, which is under research for Huntington’s disease.

In studies with rats that experienced stroke, ReN001 significantly improved sensory and motor function. The stem cells probably did not replace the massive number of cells lost during stroke, Sinden clarifies. Rather the cells most likely pumped out chemicals that activated repair pathways, resulting in new blood vessels and brain cells.

If their Phase I clinical trial to test the safety and preliminary efficacy of this therapy gains approval, University of Pittsburgh researchers will test the therapy on 10 patients who suffer from chronic ischemic stroke–the most common form, in which clots block blood flow. Ten million to 20 million cells will be implanted directly in the brain through a small hole in the skull, and patients will be monitored over 24 months. Re Neuron has partnered with BioReliance in Glasgow, Scotland, to scale up cell production; the company has roughly one million ReN001 doses currently on hand, Sinden estimates.

Past clinical trials of stem cell therapies for chronic stroke patients used cells derived from tumors in humans and brain tissue from fetal pigs. Re Neuron’s fetal cells “are closer to the neurons in [healthy] people than others used before, so they might be more effective,” Zivin says. “What Re Neuron has done to create this cell line is ambitious and well thought out,” adds neurologist Sean Savitz of Harvard Medical School. Savitz notes, however, that c-myc is associated not only with stem cells and development but also with cancer. “This is definitely not to say that it will promote tumors,” he says, but the researchers “will have to continue to convince the scientific community that the cells will not divide unchecked the way they do in tumors.”

So can our stem cells be used to treat or even prevent us from stroke? At this point it is not perfectly clear, but only time will tell as the study continues.

We at Boomer Yearbook are excited and thrilled by the prospect of this type of stroke treatment. We’d love to hear your thoughts.

www.boomeryearbook.com is a social networking site connecting the Baby Boomer generation. Share your thoughts, rediscover old friends, or expand your mind with brain games provided by clinical psychologist Dr. Karen Turner. Join today to discover the many ways we are helping Boomers connect for fun and profit.

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