DirectMoneyNow.com's Home Business Report
-Friday April 27, 2007
Publisher: Ephran Price
By Dr Jill Ammon-Wexler
Pioneer Brain/Mind Researcher
© 2006 All Rights Reserved
Many researchers today are looking at the possibility of using of
human stem cells to repair of various organs in the human body.
And more recently, this research has begun to look toward perhaps
replacing missing and dying nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.
Spinal Cord Repair
Researchers at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts Institute of
Technology recently used human stem cells to attempt to repair spinal
cord injuries in rats. They bridged breaks in the cord with stem cells
placed on scaffolds composed of a polymer similar to the dissolvable
suture material used by surgeons to close wounds.
The implanted stem cells, which can develop into many other cell types,
did manage to replace enough of the spinal cord cells needed for movement
to allow the rats to regain some limited ability to walk.
Brain Damage Repair
At Harvard medical School researchers implanted stem cells in mice with
brain damage. According to neurologist Evan Snyder, the stem cells rescued
the injured nerve cells of aged mice whose brains were compromised by the
equivalent of Parkinson's disease and normal aging in humans.
"If the experiments had been done in humans, it is difficult to know if we
would have gotten the same results," Snyder admits. "But I think there's a
possibility that stem cells might help re-form some of the lost connections
between cells sufficiently to promote restoration of function."
The researchers were surprised to see that stem cells not only replaced
missing brain tissue, but also provided protection for cells disabled by age.
"It's not unreasonable to think that in humans the early implantation of
stem cells might forestall or even pre-empt degenerative diseases such as
Parkinson's and Alzheimer's," Snyder says. "Perhaps, attacks by such diseases
could be made less ferocious and mild enough for patients to adapt."
The researchers implanted a scaffold full of neural stem cells – stem cells
that had already begun the process of developing into brain cells – near
the damaged brain cells.
“We observed a rich complexity of 'cross talk' between the implanted cells
and the injured brain," Snyder relates. "They exchanged signals and built
nerve-fiber connections to each other. Each changed the fate of the other
in such a way that lost brain tissue gave the appearance of being reconstitut
ed. Blood vessels even grew and the new brain tissue became nourished by
the animal's own brain."
The tissue replacement reportedly seemed spontaneous. The researchers did
not add chemicals or genes to the stem cells or to the brain, and did not
manipulate them in any way. The scaffolding degraded in about four-to-six
weeks, and the mice had no seizures, no further brain damage, and went about normal behavior patterns.
"It's not unreasonable to think about doing this with humans someday,"
Snyder says. "However, before that happens we need to know immensely more
about what the cells are doing. In the re-created parts of the brain, for
example, are there undesirable as well as beneficial connections that could
potentially make things worse?"
Can Senility be Slowed?
Another Snyder-led team reports on experiments to test whether neural stem
cells might restore disabled cells in an aging brain.
Mice were treated with chemicals to trigger the slow loss of brain function
typical of diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. About 10 percent
of the implanted cells spontaneously became new brain cells active in
producing a chemical missing in people with afflictions like Parkinson's.
But, surprisingly, most of the stem cells became “supporters” for endangered
brain cells, preventing them from dying.
"We could see areas of the brain whose function would have been lost to
disease but whose nerve cells were now alive and active," Snyder says.”We
may be seeing a process even more powerful and effective than replacement -
protection as a potent alternative or additional mechanism."
"We have obtained some compelling preliminary results," Snyder says. "If we
are successful, we might consider beginning experiments with some ALS
patients within five years. We might also consider trying stem cell therapy
on Parkinson's patients within five years.”
Other Exciting Research
Dr John Yu, an expert in stem cell technology at the Cedars-Sinai Maxine
Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute in Los Angeles, has shown that brain cells
can be made in the laboratory from bone marrow cells.
"By making neural cells in a petri dish, we may provide bone marrow cell
with the environment to be made into neurons more efficiently, thereby
allowing us to treat diseases such as stroke, Alzheimer's and brain tumours.
Another team of scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the
University of Bonn Medical Center have also shown that stem cells from early
human embryos can, in a laboratory dish, become precursor brain cells.
Transplanted into the brains of baby mice, the precursor cells subsequently
showed their ability to further differentiate into neurons and astrocytes –
the types of cell that populate the different regions of the brain and
At this point the research community does not agree about the potential for
replacing neural elements lost to neurodegenerative diseases, stroke, or
trauma using either embryonic or mature stem cells
But still – this early research is important for at least two reasons: One,
it establishes the fact that both embryonic and adult stem cells can be
guided down a developmental pathway to becoming brain cells. And two, it
shows that they can be transplanted into animals to further develop into
the more specific types of cells necessary for normal brain function.
But obviously, additional research is necessary to study the implications,
and the possibility that such implants will lead to normal behavior and
lasting positive effects. Come and Discover How to Build Your Brain!
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