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Paraplegic rats walk after receiving stem cell therapy

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Paraplegic rats have walked after receiving stem cell therapy, new research reveals. PHOTO CREDIT: http://i.dailymail.co.uk

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Paraplegic rats have walked after receiving stem cell therapy, new research reveals.

After just three weeks, 42 per cent of the rodents improved their ability to walk and support their weight, a study found.

Some 75 per cent of the animals were able to respond to stimuli on their back legs after being treated, the research adds.

Stem cells differentiate into specialised cells according to where they are in the body, however, for unclear reasons; the therapy was not successful in all of the study’s rats.

Nonetheless, study author Dr. Shulamit Levenberg from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, said: ‘Although there is still some way to go before it can be applied in humans, this research gives hope.’

Previous research by drug manufacturer Mesoblast in Melbourne found stem cell injections into the spine ease the discomfort of around half of chronic lower back pain sufferers for two years, with some even being symptom-free three years later.

The scientists believe injected stem cells reinflate vertebrae that have dried and cracked by causing water to trap between discs

The researchers inserted stem cells from humans’ mouths into rats with a tear in the spinal cord.

The stem cells, which differentiate into specialised cells according to their environment, then secreted substances for the growth and survival of the backbones’ nervous system.

The cells were implanted at various sites along the rats’ spinal cords. Proteins were also added to stabilise and support the rodents’ backbones.

Results reveal, three weeks after receiving the stem-cell treatment, 42 per cent of the rats improved their ability to walk and support their weight on their hind legs.

Some 75 per cent of the rodents responded to stimuli to their back limbs and tail. Damaged areas of their spinal cord showed some improvement, which suggests backbone healing.

Yet, for unclear reasons, not all of the rats were successfully treated, with additional research being required to uncover why only some rodents benefited.

Meanwhile, increasing levels of a certain protein in blood stem cells so that the immune system stops attacking insulin cells in the pancreas could be a way to halt type 1 diabetes, according to a new study reported in Science Translational Medicine.

Researchers led by those at Harvard Medical School’s Boston Children’s Hospital in Massachusetts found that they could reverse hyperglycemia in diabetic mice by modifying their defective blood stem cells to increase production of a protein called PD-L1.

In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin. Without sufficient insulin, the body cannot convert blood sugar, or glucose, into energy for cells, with the result that it builds up in the bloodstream.

Over time, high blood sugar, or hyperglycemia, leads to serious complications such as vision problems and damage to blood vessels, nerves, and kidneys.
Immune system attacks beta cells

Now, in the new study, the researchers — who were led by senior investigator Paolo Fiorina, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School’s Boston Children’s Hospital — might have discovered why treatments that use the person’s own blood stem cells may not always work.

“We found that in diabetes,” explains Prof. Fiorina, “blood stem cells are defective, promoting inflammation and possibly leading to the onset of disease.”

The defect that they discovered is that the blood stem cells — that is, the progenitor cells that give rise to mature cells — do not produce enough of a protein called PD-L1 that reigns back attack by T cells.

After just three weeks, 42 per cent of the rodents improved their ability to walk and support their weight, a study found.

Some 75 per cent of the animals were able to respond to stimuli on their back legs after being treated, the research adds.

Stem cells differentiate into specialised cells according to where they are in the body, however, for unclear reasons; the therapy was not successful in all of the study’s rats.

Nonetheless, study author Dr. Shulamit Levenberg from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, said: ‘Although there is still some way to go before it can be applied in humans, this research gives hope.’

Previous research by drug manufacturer Mesoblast in Melbourne found stem cell injections into the spine ease the discomfort of around half of chronic lower back pain sufferers for two years, with some even being symptom-free three years later.

The scientists believe injected stem cells reinflate vertebrae that have dried and cracked by causing water to trap between discs

The researchers inserted stem cells from humans’ mouths into rats with a tear in the spinal cord.

The stem cells, which differentiate into specialised cells according to their environment, then secreted substances for the growth and survival of the backbones’ nervous system.

The cells were implanted at various sites along the rats’ spinal cords. Proteins were also added to stabilise and support the rodents’ backbones.

Results reveal, three weeks after receiving the stem-cell treatment, 42 per cent of the rats improved their ability to walk and support their weight on their hind legs.

Some 75 per cent of the rodents responded to stimuli to their back limbs and tail. Damaged areas of their spinal cord showed some improvement, which suggests backbone healing.

Yet, for unclear reasons, not all of the rats were successfully treated, with additional research being required to uncover why only some rodents benefited.

Meanwhile, increasing levels of a certain protein in blood stem cells so that the immune system stops attacking insulin cells in the pancreas could be a way to halt type 1 diabetes, according to a new study reported in Science Translational Medicine.

Researchers led by those at Harvard Medical School’s Boston Children’s Hospital in Massachusetts found that they could reverse hyperglycemia in diabetic mice by modifying their defective blood stem cells to increase production of a protein called PD-L1.

In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin. Without sufficient insulin, the body cannot convert blood sugar, or glucose, into energy for cells, with the result that it builds up in the bloodstream.

Over time, high blood sugar, or hyperglycemia, leads to serious complications such as vision problems and damage to blood vessels, nerves, and kidneys.
Immune system attacks beta cells

Now, in the new study, the researchers — who were led by senior investigator Paolo Fiorina, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School’s Boston Children’s Hospital — might have discovered why treatments that use the person’s own blood stem cells may not always work.

“We found that in diabetes,” explains Prof. Fiorina, “blood stem cells are defective, promoting inflammation and possibly leading to the onset of disease.”

The defect that they discovered is that the blood stem cells — that is, the progenitor cells that give rise to mature cells — do not produce enough of a protein called PD-L1 that reigns back attack by T cells.



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