Monthly Archives: September 2013

Patient’s Own Cells Might Be Used As Treatment For Parkinson’s Disease

Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) taken from a patient hold great therapeutic potential for many diseases. However, studies in rodents have suggested that the body may mount an immune response and destroy cells derived from iPSCs. New research in monkeys refutes these findings, suggesting that in primates like us, such cells will not be rejected by the immune system. In the paper, publishing September 26 in the ISSCR’s journal Stem Cell Reports, published by Cell Press, iPSCs from nonhuman primates successfully developed into the neurons depleted by Parkinson’s disease while eliciting only a minimal immune response. The cells therefore could hold promise for successful transplantation in humans. reach

iPSCs are cells that have been genetically reprogrammed to an embryonic stem-cell-like state, meaning that they can differentiate into virtually any of the body’s different cell types. iPSCs directed to differentiate into specific cell types offer the possibility of a renewable source of replacement cells and tissues to treat ailments, including Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury, heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis.

Studies in rodents have suggested that iPSC-derived cells used for transplantation may be rejected by the body’s immune system. To test this in an animal that is more closely related to humans, investigators in Japan directed iPSCs taken from a monkey to develop into certain neurons that are depleted in Parkinson’s disease patients. When they were injected into the same monkey’s brain (called an autologous transplantation), the neurons elicited only a minimal immune response. In contrast, injections of the cells into immunologically unmatched recipients (called an allogeneic transplantation) caused the body to mount a stronger immune response.

“These findings give a rationale to start autologous transplantation—at least of neural cells—in clinical situations,” says senior author Dr. Jun Takahashi, of the Kyoto University’s Center for iPS Cell Research and Application. The team’s work also suggests that transplantation of such neurons into immunologically matched recipients may be possible with minimal use of immunosuppressive drugs.


Source:, Cell Press


Regenerative medicine and stem cells focus of Mayo Clinic heart research

Researchers at Mayo Clinic in Rochester are looking for new ways to repair a heart that doesn’t beat properly in the days following a heart attack. heart

Traditionally, a person with an irregular heartbeat — a problem known medically as dyssynchrony — gets treated with a pacemaker to coach the heart back into normal rhythm.

But that’s ineffective for about a third of patients, said Dr. Andre Terzic, director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Regenerative Medicine.

That’s why researchers at Mayo turned their gaze toward regenerative medicine and adult stem cells, the kind that can be guided to become most any type of tissue.

The team has demonstrated in a proof-of-concept experiment that heart rhythm disruptions after a heart attack can be fixed with regenerative medicine.

The researchers conducted early-stage research with mice, which means there’s much study yet to be done. Although mouse studies do not always translate well for application into humans, the study, Terzic said, shows that it’s possible to repair a heart’s rhythm with stem cells.

“This extends the work that we are doing in defining what could be the most-useful applications for regenerative medicine,” whose team has already begun clinical trials in humans and has the ability to coax a patient’s own stem cells to become potentially reparative heart tissue.

The new study in mice “introduces — for the first time — stem cell-based ‘biological re-synchronization’ as a novel means to treat cardiac dyssynchrony,” Terzic said in a Mayo announcement.

It will take time to translate what has been found into use for humans, Terzic said in an interview with the Post-Bulletin. But, in the meantime, researchers can begin looking for signs of re-synchronization in other ongoing research studies, he said.

Heart chambers must beat in synchrony to ensure the proper pumping, which is why the possibility of stem-cell treatment when pacemakers don’t work seems so enticing.

“Typically one-third of patients do not respond favorably to pacing,” Terzic said. “So there is an absolute ‘must’ to find a solution for that one-third.”

Increasingly, he said, regenerative-medicine research considers the body’s own ability to heal and looks for ways to boost it. The new study, published in The Journal of Physiology, could change regenerative medicine’s concept of what is possible, if the current results get confirmed.

“We have developed essentially a new area of medicine of ‘biological re-synchronization,'” Terzic said. “We take advantage of stem cells to repair, rather than taking advantage of a device just to pace…in other words, the solution is coming from our own cells.”

Terzic said the study is but one example of what is essentially merging regenerative medicine with individualized medicine — picking a stem-cell or other regenerative-medicine treatment that will work best for a specific individual.

“We have seen major advances in what we call cardiac regeneration medicine. We started initially as science fiction and eventually over the years it has become reality,” Terzic said. “We have already brought it to patients.”

Mayo in Rochester, Florida and Arizona have current clinical trials for patients dealing with health medical conditions like Lou Gehrig’s disease, gastrointestinal issues, heart attack, angina, Crohn’s disease, multiple-system atrophy, kidney disease and pediatric heart problems. Study continues with orthopedics (could a hip bone be triggered to heal instead of needing surgery?), diabetes (what if a patient’s own cells could be triggered to become insulin-producers?) and neurology.

These days, patients of all ages who connect with Mayo directly or through their health provider can get referred to the Regenerative Medicine Clinic for consultation about options.

The idea is to fulfill the unmet needs of patients. Not to extend life, but to extend healthy life, Terzic said.

“That is the holy grail,” he said.

Source: Jeff Hansel,