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New Stem Cell Growth Strategy Could Yield Better Way to Treat Brain Lesions

Durham, NC (PRWEB) May 16, 2013

Researchers have found a new way to increase the survival of stem cells injected into the brain. The discovery might one day prove useful in developing new treatments for neurological disorders — especially brain lesions, which among other things can provoke seizures and indicate multiple sclerosis or certain forms of cancer.

The study was performed by Sushma Chaubey, Ph.D., and John H. Wolfe, V.M.D., Ph.D., of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia’s Research Institute and the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. It appears in the current issue of STEM CELLS Translational Medicine.

Many medical experts have long believed that neural stem cells (NSCs) have great potential for treating neurological diseases. However, the problem is that just a small number of NSCs can be transplanted into the brain, yielding relatively low levels of new cell growth and, thus, a limited effect. “We wanted to investigate whether using a specific population of neural cells would help increase the number of mature brain cells that the stem cell graft yields,” Dr. Wolfe explained.

The team began by harvesting NSCs from the brains of baby mice and used a process known as fluorescence activated cell sorting to identify cells with markers for CD15, a type of carbohydrate found on a cell’s surface that plays an important role in cell migration, adhesion and in the growth factor signaling involved in cell maintenance and differentiation.

Cells sorting allowed the scientists to achieve a population of cells in which 98 percent were CD15-positive. This process resulted in six times more CD15-positive cells than when cell sorting is not used. These cells were then differentiated in the lab into neurons, astrocytes and oligodendrocytes, which are types of cells found in the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord). The team next tested both sorted and non-sorted neural cells by injecting them into baby mice. One week later, a time when the brain is still growing, they found that cells from both groups had populated the animals’ brains at a similar level.

“However, in the adult brain the survival of donor cells was significantly higher in the CD15-positive grafts than it was in the unsorted group,” Dr. Wolfe said. In addition, the engrafted stem cells had differentiated into all three types of neural cells with the CD15-positive ones showing a significant tendency to differentiate into oligodendrocytes. This type of cell plays a vital role in protecting neurons.

“This strategy may allow for better delivery of therapeutic cells to the brain,” said Anthony Atala, MD, editor of STEM CELLS Translational Medicine and director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

“The fact that the CD15-positive cells show a significant increase in oligodendrocytic differentiation suggests that they may be particularly useful for treating diseases involving white matter lesions.”


The full article, “Transplantation of CD15-enriched murine neural stem cells increases total engraftment and shifts differentiation towards the oligodendrocyte lineage,” can be accessed at

About STEM CELLS Translational Medicine:

STEM CELLS TRANSLATIONAL MEDICINE (SCTM), published by AlphaMed Press, is a monthly peer-reviewed publication dedicated to significantly advancing the clinical utilization of stem cell molecular and cellular biology. By bridging stem cell research and clinical trials, SCTM will help move applications of these critical investigations closer to accepted best practices.

About AlphaMed Press:

Established in 1983, AlphaMed Press with offices in Durham, NC, San Francisco, CA, and Belfast, Northern Ireland, publishes two other internationally renowned peer-reviewed journals: STEM CELLS® (, celebrating its 31th anniversary in 2012, is the world's first journal devoted to this fast paced field of research. The Oncologist® (, also a monthly peer-reviewed publication, entering its 18th year, is devoted to community and hospital-based oncologists and physicians entrusted with cancer patient care. All three journals are premier periodicals with globally-recognized editorial boards dedicated to advancing knowledge and education in their focused disciplines.

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