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Precision with stem cells a step forward for treating MS, other diseases
Date:10/13/2011

CD140a on their surface seemed to be most likely to become the desired cells oligodendrocytes.

"Characterizing and isolating the exact cells to use in stem cell therapy is one key to ultimately having success," said Sim. "You need to have the right cells in hand before you can even think about getting to a clinical trial to treat people. This is a significant step."

Central to the team's success is its encyclopedic knowledge of the hundreds of molecules that direct brain stem cells to become the specific cell types of the adult brain. That knowledge is the product of a decade of work in the Goldman lab.

In the experiments described in Nature Biotechnology, for instance, the team was able to use a molecule called BMP4 to direct the stem cells to become support cells of the brain astrocytes while another molecule called Noggin led them to become oligodendrocytes.

"These cells are very responsive to cues in their local environment," said Goldman. "It's crucial to select the right type of stem cell, but it's just as important to create an environment with the molecular signals necessary to produce the type of cell needed for a particular condition or illness."

The current work focuses on the creation of myelin; besides it loss in multiple sclerosis and childhood disorders, myelin loss plays a role in diseases as diverse as cerebral palsy, diabetes, high blood pressure, and some cases of stroke. While Goldman's team has had previous success remyelinating the brains of mice born without the substance, the new results identify a specific subset of cells that appear to be the most efficient yet at producing myelin and improve the hope of developing cell therapy as a way to treat these diseases.

An eventual treatment of a disease like M.S. might involve injecting stem cells to create myelin in the brains of patients. Along those lines, Martha Windrem, Ph.D., an author of the paper and assistant professor in Ro
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Contact: Tom Rickey
tom_rickey@urmc.rochester.edu
585-275-7954
University of Rochester Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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