Skin cells morph into brain cells
Researchers at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine have discovered a technique that directly converts skin cells to the type of brain cells destroyed in patients with multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and other so-called myelin disorders.
This breakthrough now enables “on demand” production of myelinating cells, which provide a vital sheath of insulation that protects neurons and enables the delivery of brain impulses to the rest of the body. In patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), cerebral palsy (CP), and rare genetic disorders called leukodystrophies, myelinating cells are destroyed and cannot be replaced.
The new technique involves directly converting fibroblasts — an abundant structural cell present in the skin and most organs — into oligodendrocytes, the type of cell responsible for myelinating the neurons of the brain.
This discovery appears in the journal Nature Biotechnology. Read the rest….
Vatican honors teen for adult stem cell treatment
The Vatican will honor 14-year old Elizabeth Lobato on Thursday, April 11, with one of four pontifical hero awards given to children and adults who benefit from adult stem cells or promote their use.
Elizabeth was born with a severe form of osteogenesis imperfecta, also known as brittle bone disease. Several doctors said she probably would die within 10 months, said her father, Terry Lobato, 50, a teacher.
Her head hadn’t fully hardened. Her bones were so frail that she regularly suffered breaks or fractures to her legs, ribs and other parts of her body, even when she made gentle movements, such as rolling over, said Elizabeth’s mother, Mary, 43. Most of her body was placed in casts to help prevent further breaks.
Elizabeth stopped growing at age 5 or 6. At 11, she was about 2 feet, 6 inches tall.
Every day carried risks for Elizabeth, Mary Lobato said. About once a month, she ended up in the hospital because of a bone fracture. A bad fall could have killed her.
Three years ago, Elizabeth began receiving stem cells from her father and from another donor as part of a study involving four children.
Stem cells provide hope for glaucoma treatment
People with glaucoma could receive a simple injection in the near future to halt – or even reverse – the eye condition.
Scientists at Cambridge University believe the technique, which uses stem cells, could even cure blindness one day. They have already had success in rats and hope to start trials in humans within five years.
The method involves taking stem cells from bone marrow and injecting them in a solution into the back of the eye. Read the rest here.