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FDA APPROVED SCHWANN CELL TRANSPLANT

In ALL ARTICLES, SCIENCE & STEM CELLS, STEM CELLS IN THE NEWS on January 29, 2013 at 9:00 am

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Doctors Perform First FDA Approved Schwann Cell Transplant in Patient with New Spinal Cord Injury

Doctors at The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, a Center of Excellence at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, performed the first-ever Food and Drug Administration approved Schwann cell transplantation in a patient with a new spinal cord injury. The procedure, performed at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center, is a Phase 1 clinical trial designed to evaluate the safety and feasibility of transplanting the patient’s own Schwann cells.

“This historic clinical trial represents a giant step forward in a field of medicine where each tangible step has tremendous value. This trial, and these first patients in this trial specifically, are extremely important to our mission of curing paralysis,” said neurosurgeon Barth Green, M.D., Co-Founder and Chairman of The Miami Project, and Professor and Chair of Neurological Surgery. “The Miami Project team includes hundreds of scientists, clinicians, and technicians who have joined hands to make the ‘impossible possible,’ for which this trial is a key goal and dream now being realized. This achievement reaffirms that the tens of millions of dollars and the incalculable work hours were well invested in this first of a kind human Schwann cell project.”

Led by W. Dalton Dietrich, Ph.D., Scientific Director of The Miami Project and Professor of Neurological Surgery, Neurology and Cell Biology & Anatomy, the Schwann cell clinical trial team at The Miami Project is composed of a multidisciplinary group of basic science and clinical faculty members, scientific staff, and regulatory personnel focused on advancing the trial. The transplantation procedure was conducted by the Principal Investigators of the trial, Dr. Allan Levi, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Neurological Surgery, Orthopedic, and Rehabilitation, and James Guest, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Neurological Surgery. The patient had a neurologically complete thoracic spinal injury and received the transplantation of autologous Schwann cells about four weeks post-injury. There have been no adverse events and the team is moving forward with the trial.

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This image shows a cultured Schwann cell stained for the actin cytoskeleton with phalloidin-Rd.

SCHWANN CELL:

“a cell that forms spiral layers around a myelinated nerve fiber between two nodes of Ranvier and forms the myelin sheath consisting of the inner spiral layers from which the protoplasm has been squeezed out.”   (Source)

“As a basic scientist, the hope is always to increase knowledge and discovery,” said Dietrich. “Not every day are you able to see that translated into the clinical realm with the hopes of bettering the lives of those suffering, so this Phase I clinical trial is a vital step for the field of SCI research, and for The Miami Project team that has been working diligently on this therapeutic concept for more than a quarter of a century. This trial, when completed successfully, will lay the critical foundation for future cell-based therapies to target spinal cord injuries.”

The Miami Project clinical trial will enroll a total of eight participants with acute thoracic SCI. Newly injured patients brought to the trauma center would have to meet the stringent inclusion criteria. The participants will undergo a biopsy of a sensory nerve in one leg to obtain the tissue from which to grow their own Schwann cells. The Schwann cells are then grown in a state-of-the art culturing facility for three to five weeks to generate the number of cells necessary for transplantation, and to undergo the strict purification process. By the time the Schwann cells are surgically transplanted into the injury site, participants will be 26-42 days post-injury.

All procedures will be conducted at UM/Jackson and The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, with colleagues at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. Each participant will be followed intensively for one year after receiving the transplantation surgery, and their neurologic status, medical status, pain symptoms, and muscle spasticity will be evaluated. It is expected that it could be two to three years from the time the first subject is enrolled until the final subject is one year post-transplantation. All participants will continue to be monitored for an additional four years under a separate clinical protocol. This Phase I trial is the foundation upon which The Miami Project will develop future cell transplant trials targeting different types of injuries, times post-injury, and therapeutic combinations.

Posted on January 24, 2013 By Neuroscience News Featured, Neurology (Source)

Bacteria’s hidden skill could pave way for stem cell treatments

In ALL ARTICLES, SCIENCE & STEM CELLS, STEM CELLS IN THE NEWS on January 18, 2013 at 9:00 am

Bacteria’s hidden skill could pave way for stem cell treatments

A discovery about the way in which bugs spread throughout the body could help to develop stem cell treatments.  Researchers at the University of Edinburgh have found that bacteria are able to change the make-up of supporting cells within the nerve system, called Schwann cells, so that they take on the properties of stem cells.  Because stem cells can develop into any of the different cell types in the body – including liver and brain cells – mimicking this process could aid research into a range of degenerative conditions.

Scientists made the discovery studying bacteria that cause leprosy, which is an infectious neurodegenerative disease.  The study, carried out in mice, found that in the early stages of infection, the bacteria were able to protect themselves from the body’s immune system by hiding in Schwann cells or glial cells.  Once the infection was fully established, the bacteria were able to convert the Schwann cells to become like stem cells.

Like typical stem cells, these cells were pluripotent, meaning they could then become other cell types, for instance muscle cells. This enabled the bacteria to spread to tissues in the body.  The bacteria-generated stem cells also have another unexpected characteristic. They can secrete specialized proteins – called chemokines – that attract immune cells, which in turn pick up the bacteria and spread the infection.

Scientists believe these mechanisms, used by leprosy bacteria, could exist in other infectious diseases.   Knowledge of this newly discovered tactic used by bacteria to spread infection could help research to improve treatments and earlier diagnosis of infectious diseases.

The study is published in the journal Cell.

Professor Anura Rambukkana, of the Medical Research Council (MRC) Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh, who led the research, said: “Bacterial infections can completely change a cell’s make up, which could have a wide-range of implications, including in stem cell research.

“We have found a new weapon in a bacteria’s armory that enables them to spread effectively in the body by converting infected cells to stem cells. Greater understanding of how this occurs could help research to diagnose bacterial infectious diseases, such as leprosy, much earlier.”

The study, carried out in Professor Rambukkana’s laboratories at the University of Edinburgh and the Rockefeller University, was funded by the US National Institutes of Health.  It showed that when an infected Schwann cell was reprogrammed to become like a stem cell, it lost the function of Schwann cells to protect nerve cells, which transmit signals to the brain. This led to nerves becoming damaged.  Professor Rambukkana added: “This is very intriguing as it is the first time that we have seen that functional adult tissue cells can be reprogrammed into stem cells by natural bacterial infection, which also does not carry the risk of creating tumorous cells.

“Potentially you could use the bacteria to change the flexibility of cells, turning them into stem cells and then use the standard antibiotics to kill the bacteria completely so that the cells could then be transplanted safely to tissue that has been damaged by degenerative disease.”

Dr Rob Buckle, Head of Regenerative Medicine at the MRC, added: “This ground-breaking new research shows that bacteria are able to sneak under the radar of the immune system by hijacking a naturally occurring mechanism to ‘reprogramme’ cells to make them look and behave like stem cells. This discovery is important not just for our understanding and treatment of bacterial disease, but for the rapidly progressing field of regenerative medicine. In future, this knowledge may help scientists to improve the safety and utility of lab-produced pluripotent stem cells and help drive the development of new regenerative therapies for a range of human diseases, which are currently impossible to treat.”

Professor Rambukkana, who is Chair of Regeneration Biology at the MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine, is also a member of the University’s Centre for Neuroregeneration and Centre for Infectious Diseases.

http://www.sciencecodex.com/bacterias_hidden_skill_could_pave_way_for_stem_cell_treatments-105265

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