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New Way to Track Stem Cell Migration Could Advance Treatments for Brain Tumors and More
Date:9/6/2013

Durham, NC (PRWEB) September 06, 2013

A new study in the current issue of STEM CELLS Translational Medicine shows how a team of scientists led by Rex Moats, Ph.D., and Karen Aboody, M.D., discovered a safe, effective way to track the migration and distribution of neural stem cells used in treating invasive brain tumors. Their method, which involves “pre-loading” the cells before transplantation with ultra-small, super paramagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles that can then be detected via magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), has been approved for clinical trials in humans and has the potential to greatly accelerate the search for new treatments for deadly brain tumors and other diseases.

Numerous stem cell-based therapies are currently under investigation, including an FDA-approved clinical trial focused on employing neural stem cells (NSCs) in delivering drugs targeting invasive brain tumors. “The ability to monitor the time course, migration and distribution of stem cells following transplantation into these patients would provide critical information for optimizing treatment regimens,” Dr. Moats said. “However, no effective cell-tracking methodology had yet garnered clinical acceptance.”

A labeling and imaging protocol using clinical grade ferumoxytol — an iron replacement product currently approved to treat iron deficiency anemia in patients with chronic kidney disease — has shown promise in some studies as a possible tracking agent. The Moats-Aboody team, in conjunction with Dr. Joseph A. Frank, a co-investigator at NIH, had previously demonstrated that the combination of ferumoxides with protamine sulfate showed promise in labeling the NSCs for this purpose.

In this most recent study, they wanted to build upon their work by testing how adding heparin to the ferumoxytol and protamine sulfate mix (a combination called HPF) might affect the NSC labeling.

The results showed great promise in the lab.
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