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A "cure" for strokes may soon be a simple as growing new brain tissue

An intriguing new study reiterates the promise that stem cells hold for curing many diseases.  Stem cells in the human body can be transformed into a variety of types of cells, depending on what biologic agents they're exposed to.  Initially, stem cells were the subject of much more debate as they were harvested from fetuses, but now scientists are beginning to produce them in the lab by transforming patients' normal tissue cells into stem cells.

In the recent study, a team led by Dr. Mike Modo of the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London investigated replacing stroke-damaged tissue in rats with new tissue from stem cells.  Strokes, caused by blockages in brain blood vessels lead to dead areas of brain tissue.  Past studies have looked at replacing this dead tissue with stem cells, which would grow into new brain tissue.  However, they have met with little success.

The new study, though, shows such growth is possible; the cells just need a scaffolding to grow.  In past studies, the cells migrated to other areas of the brain, making them essentially useless in fixing the problem.  In the new study researchers attach them to a tiny scaffold made of a biodegradable polymer called PLGA, and coated this scaffolding in neural stem cells.  The result is that the damaged brain tissue is regrown successfully in just 7 days.  The technique has a strong likelihood of being able to be applied in humans.

States Dr. Modo, "We would expect to see a much better improvement in the outcome after a stroke if we can fully replace the lost brain tissue, and that is what we have been able to do with our technique.  This works really well because the stem cell-loaded PLGA particles can be injected through a very fine needle and then adopt the precise shape of the cavity.”

“In this process the cells fill the cavity and can make connections with other cells, which helps to establish the tissue.  Over a few days we can see cells migrating along the scaffold particles and forming a primitive brain tissue that interacts with the host brain. Gradually the particles biodegrade leaving more gaps and conduits for tissue, fibres and blood vessels to move into," Dr. Modo continued.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans are used in the study to locate the damaged tissue and the optimal injection site for the scaffolding/stem cell mix.  Subsequent MRI scans track the development of the brain tissue.

The researchers' next step will be to permeate the growing tissue with VEGF, a factor which promotes blood vessels to permeate a tissue.  This will help bring blood flow to the developing brain mass, keeping it alive. 

Professor Douglas Kell, chief executive of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) which funded the project, states, "Stroke is a leading cause of disability in industrialised countries. It is reassuring to know that the technology for treating stroke by repairing brain damage is getting ever closer to translation into the clinic. This crucial groundwork by Dr Modo and his colleagues will surely be a solid foundation of basic research for much better treatments in the future."

Joe Korner, Director of Communications at The Stroke Association (UK) adds, "This research is another step towards using stem cell therapy in treating and reversing the brain damage caused by stroke. It is exciting because researchers have shown they are able to overcome some of the many challenges in translating the potential of using stem cells into reality.  The potential to reverse the disabling effects of stroke seems to have been proved. However the development of stem cell therapy for stroke survivors is still in the early stages and much more research will be needed before it can be tested in humans or used in practice.  Every five minutes someone in the UK has a stroke and it is vital that we do all we can to help those affected by stroke."

The new research is published in the journal Biomaterials.



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RE: Stem cell research...
By Myg on 3/11/2009 7:51:35 AM , Rating: 2
"Oh really? special concern for the wellness of ALL human life.

Like Iraqi life huh?
Like Muslim life?
Like all the innocent people (amongst the guilty) you have locked up in guantanamo and refuse to release or compensate?"

"While I am far from approving of all abortion, it is sometimes neccesary to prevent loss of life."

Hypocrite much?


RE: Stem cell research...
By shin0bi272 on 3/11/2009 8:10:11 AM , Rating: 2
You are also confusing murder with war fighting and self defense. Our soldiers under the rules of engagement do not fire on anyone unless they are fired upon first or there is an immanent threat (like a guy with an rpg aimed at them)of being shot at. Yes some times innocent civilians get shot in the process and that is a tragedy but it cannot be helped all the time. It's also better that those people who are innocent but no one can identify and/or we arent sure they are completely innocent stay locked up until we can determine whether or not they are hostile. back in jan I think it was they let 2 guys go from gitmo and they went right over to yemin and took over the al qaeda operations the next week. So would it have been better for everyone to have been stuck there till we were absolutely sure they werent hostile or let the guilty and the innocent go because we didnt college forensic evidence on the battle field?

I think that he was referring to aborting the pregnancy when in those rare cases it would also kill the mother.


RE: Stem cell research...
By Myg on 3/11/2009 11:00:58 AM , Rating: 2
Heh, you his lawyer or something? You don't need to cover his mistakes with pointless details.

- First quote:
"Oh really? special concern for the wellness of ALL human life.

Like Iraqi life huh?
Like Muslim life?
Like all the innocent people (amongst the guilty) you have locked up in guantanamo and refuse to release or compensate?"

- Second quote
"While I am far from approving of all abortion, it is sometimes neccesary to prevent loss of life."

If you cant see the contradiction in that, I pity you.


RE: Stem cell research...
By shin0bi272 on 3/11/2009 8:15:47 PM , Rating: 2
the difference between murder and self defense is not a pointless detail. If you are too obtuse to see that there is a difference between killing an unborn child and a terrorist then I would be inclined to invite you to travel over to Iraq and try talking to the terrorists... see if you dont get beheaded in short order. You can re quote your opposition to his points all you want it doesnt make you any more correct. Maybe we should start experimenting on muslims how about that? They want America and Israel to cease to exist at any costs and you defend them... so open minded your brain fell out I guess.


RE: Stem cell research...
By shin0bi272 on 3/11/2009 8:20:55 PM , Rating: 2
oh while I was on here I noted the related articles section of the page and found this: http://www.dailytech.com/Researchers+Make+Leap+in+...

So if they can make stem cells from any tissue now and the terrorists still want us to die we CAN use them for experimentation! Illustrating absurdity by being absurd I am.


RE: Stem cell research...
By MrPoletski on 3/16/2009 7:34:51 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
"Oh really? special concern for the wellness of ALL human life.

Like Iraqi life huh?
Like Muslim life?
Like all the innocent people (amongst the guilty) you have locked up in guantanamo and refuse to release or compensate?"

"While I am far from approving of all abortion, it is sometimes neccesary to prevent loss of life."

Hypocrite much?


Yes congratulations you have noticed me pointing out the hypocrisy of your views.

Pro lifers are so ready to save the foetus's from abortion they do things like murder abortion doctors, leave nailbombs outside abortion clinics. On top of that they are the same people that advocate invading other countries causing the deaths and suffering of millions of innocent people.

yeah, THAT'S hypocrisy, yes.


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