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tomk at unwired.com.au
Thu Jul 26 02:51:49 AEST 2012
In case Google ever fails, it's reassuring to know that...
Stem cells can restore memory
By Janet Fang | July 24, 2012, 10:20 PM PDT
Using human stem cells, one biotech has restored memory in rodents bred
to have an Alzheimer's-like condition.
California-based StemCells Inc. hopes this will lead to a clinical trial
with human patients with Alzheimer's. This is the first time human stem
cells have been shown to improve memory.
They focused their efforts on the hippocampus, responsible for learning
and memory. They injected human stem cells in both sides of the brain. A
month later, io9 explains, they reinvestigated the memory capabilities
of these mice, comparing their performances to their previous levels,
and those of a control group.
The animals that received stem cells performed as well as mice without
any previous neural pathology.
The researchers speculate that the stem cells alleviated the detrimental
effects of protein build-up, which cause the brain to lose connections
between neurons. The mice that received stem cells had 75 percent more
synapses between connections.
The company prepares their stem cells using fetal brain tissue from
donated aborted fetal tissue. This neuronal stem-cell product has
already shown potential to protect vision in diseased eyes, act as brain
support cells, or improve walking ability in rodents with spinal cord
injury. Technology Review reports:
* In 2006, the company implanted up to a billion of these stem cells
into the brains of patients with a neurological disorder called Batten.
* In another small trial, children with a genetic disease that
prevents their brains from producing the sheath on neurons received the
* In 2011, spinal-cord injury patients received a transplant of 20
million stem cells directly into the spinal cord. Patients reported
changes in their sensitivity to touch.
* Last month, StemCells announced the beginning of a trial for dry
age-related macular degeneration, a disease that gradually destroys
vision; there are currently no FDA-approved treatments.
"Now we are really in the exciting phase, because now we are looking at
human clinical data, as opposed to just small animals," says StemCells
CEO Martin McGlynn.
It might work in animals, but when you get to clinical trials for
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