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Stem-cell therapy may provide new approach to fight infection
Date:7/1/2010

A new study from researchers in Ottawa and Toronto suggests that a commonly used type of bone marrow stem cell may be able to help treat sepsis, a deadly condition that can occur when an infection spreads throughout the body. The study, published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, shows that these cells can triple survival rates in an experimental model of sepsis.

This work was a collaboration between research groups led by Dr. Duncan Stewart at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI), Dr. Arthur Slutsky at St. Michael's Hospital and Dr. W. Conrad Liles at the University Health Network in Toronto.

The cells used in this study are called mesenchymal stem cells. In addition to their stem cell properties, they are also known to influence the immune system and help repair tissue damage. They are found in adult bone marrow and they have been used extensively in clinical trials for other diseases.

The researchers tested these cells in mice with sepsis. Bacteria from the gut were released into the abdomen, resulting in severe infection, inflammation and organ damage throughout the body. Six hours after inducing the infection, approximately half the mice were given an intravenous injection of mouse mesenchymal stem cells, while the other half received a control injection of a salt solution. Both groups of animals also received antibiotics, which is the standard treatment for sepsis in the clinic. After five days, 50 per cent of the animals that received the cells were alive, compared to just 15 per cent of the control animals that did not receive the cells.

Other experiments showed that mice that were treated with mesenchymal stem cells had healthier lungs and other organs, lower levels of bacteria and a more moderate level of inflammation. Further analysis revealed that the treatment caused a global change in the expression of genes that are associated with inflammation, such that the da
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Contact: Jennifer Paterson
jpaterson@ohri.ca
613-798-5555 x73325
Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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