Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Human stem cells delay start of Lou Gehrig's disease in rats

17.10.2006
Researchers at Johns Hopkins have shown that transplanting human stem cells into spinal cords of rats bred to duplicate Lou Gehrig's disease delays the start of nerve cell damage typical of the disease and slightly prolongs life.

The grafted stem cells develop into nerve cells that make substantial connections with existing nerves and do not themselves succumb to Lou Gehrig's, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The study is published in this week's issue of Transplantation.

"We were extremely surprised to see that the grafted stem cells were not negatively affected by the degenerating cells around them, as many feared introducing healthy cells into a diseased environment would only kill them," says Vassilis Koliatsos, M.D., an associate professor of pathology and neuroscience at Hopkins.

Although all the rats eventually died of ALS, Koliatsos believes his experiments offer "proof of principle" for stem cell grafts and that a more complete transplant of cells - already being planned -- along the full length of the spine to affect upper body nerves and muscles as well might lead to longer survival in the same rats.

"We only injected cells in the lower spine, affecting only the nerves and muscles below the waist," he noted. "The nerves and muscles above the waist, especially those in the chest responsible for breathing, were not helped by these transplanted stem cells."

The research team used so-called SOD-1 rats, animals engineered to carry a mutated human gene for an inherited form of ALS. As in human ALS, the rats experience slow nerve cell death where all the muscles in the body eventually become paralyzed. The particular SOD-1 rats in the study developed an "especially aggressive" form of the disease.

Adult rats not yet showing symptoms were injected in the lower spine with human neural stem cells - cells that can in theory become any type found in the nervous system. As a comparison, the researchers injected rats with dead human stem cells, which would not affect disease progression. Both groups of rats were treated with drugs to prevent transplant rejection.

The rats were weighed and tested for strength twice a week for 15 weeks. Weight loss, according to Koliatsos, indicates disease onset. On average, rats injected with live stem cells started losing weight at 59 days and lived for 86 days after injection, whereas control rats injected with dead stem cells started losing weight at 52 days and lived for 75 days after injection.

The rats were coaxed to crawl uphill on an angled plank, and their overall strength was calculated by considering the highest angle they could cling to for five seconds without sliding backwards. While all the rats grew progressively weaker, those injected with live cells did so much more slowly than those injected with dead cells.

Close examination of the transplanted cells also revealed that more than 70 percent of them developed into nerve cells, and many of those grew new endings connecting to other cells in the rat's spinal cord.

"These stem cells differentiate massively into neurons," says Koliatsos, "a pleasant surprise given that the spinal cord has long been considered an environment unfavorable to this type of transformation."

Another important feature of the transplanted cells is their ability to make nerve-cell-specific proteins and growth factors. The researchers measured five-times more of one particular factor, known as GNDF (short for glial cell derived neurotrophic factor) in spinal cord fluid. The transformation of the transplanted cells also may allow them to deliver these growth factors to other cells in the spinal cord through physical connections.

Cautioning that clinical applications are still far from possible, Koliatsos hopes to take further advantage of his rodents with ALS to learn as much as possible about how human stem cells behave when transplanted.

Audrey Huang | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.jhmi.edu

Further reports about: Gehrig' Koliatsos Nerve rats stem cells transplant transplanted

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Water world
20.11.2017 | Washington University in St. Louis

nachricht Carefully crafted light pulses control neuron activity
20.11.2017 | University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Antarctic landscape insights keep ice loss forecasts on the radar

20.11.2017 | Earth Sciences

Filling the gap: High-latitude volcanic eruptions also have global impact

20.11.2017 | Earth Sciences

Water world

20.11.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>