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Stem cell transplant breakthrough
Registered: 23 November 2006
Posts: 29
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British researchers have successfully transplanted brain stem cells to obese mice with leptin deficiency. The transplant was successful showing that nerve cells can be regrown.
The abstract said, "These experiments serve as a proof of concept that transplanted neurons can functionally reconstitute complex neuronal circuitry in the mammalian brain".
This could have repercussions in treatment of motor neuron disease like Parkinson's, and, (in my words) potentially KD.
Our researchers are preferring to ignore stem cell therapy for KD, which has a bad reputation. But the pendulum must swing back to reconsider this valuable tool.
The experiment was written up in Science Magazine, specifically
Science 25 November 2011:
Vol. 334 no. 6059 pp. 1133-1137
DOI: 10.1126/science.1209870
Registered: 07 May 2007
Posts: 40
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Allan, This is certainly an interesting paper and does indicate that stem cells can develop as 'normal' cells when transplanted in developing brains. While technically, this is a breakthrough, I am not sure the concept that this approach works is that surprising. I would expect that the transfer of neuronal stem cells into the developing brain should develop normally. At this state of development, they are essentially just doing 'what come naturally' for those cells, turning into functional nerve cells. It seems to me that they did not show "reconstitution" of neuronal circuitry (as in their abstract)but simply the development of this circuitry.

What these researchers did not do (and I do not believe any have ever done) was to inject the stem cells in an adult brain and observe the reconstitution of complex neuronal circuitry in the adult. This is what needs to be done to treat KD, at least in those showing symptoms. This is a very different and much more complicated problem than what was addressed in this paper. Nonetheless, thanks for highlighting this study.

I would, however, take issue with the comment that "our" researchers ignore stem cell therapy, as it seems to imply some sort of plot in which they are deliberately not pursuing a viable treatment. There are several researchers who are working with stem cells (I personally have donated cells to one group). It is just that it is unlikely that an effective stem cell therapy will be developed in the next 10 years (and may take even longer). The obstacles to overcome in such therapy are quite large and these obstacles are not KD specific. In the meantime, most of the studies you read about with regard to KD are attempts at finding a treatment for those of us with major symptoms, a treatment that can be developed in a much shorter time period. This most likely will be through the use of some drug/chemical that attenuates the symptoms.

I do not mean to be negative about stem cells, they have the possibility of being very, very important in the treatment of diseases such as KD. It is just that such treatments (like I would need) are still a long time away.
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