Stem cells from muscle tissue may hold key to cell therapies for neurodegenerative diseases

Oct 12, 2012

Scientists at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center have taken the first steps to create neural-like stem cells from muscle tissue in animals. Details of the work are published in two complementary studies published in the September online issues of the journals Experimental Cell Research and Stem Cell Research.

"Reversing brain degeneration and trauma lesions will depend on cell therapy, but we can't harvest from the brain or spinal cord without harming the donor," said Osvaldo Delbono, M.D., Ph.D., professor of internal medicine at Wake Forest Baptist and lead author of the studies.

", which makes up 50 percent of the body, is easily accessible and biopsies of muscle are relatively harmless to the donor, so we think it may be an alternative source of neural-like cells that potentially could be used to treat brain or spinal cord injury, neurodegenerative disorders, and other diseases, although more studies are needed."

In an earlier study, the Wake Forest Baptist team isolated neural precursor cells derived from skeletal muscle of adult (PLOS One, Feb.3, 2011).

In the current research, the team isolated neural from in vitro adult skeletal muscle of various species including non-human primates and aging mice, and showed that these cells not only survived in the brain, but also migrated to the area of the brain where neural stem cells originate.

Another issue the researchers investigated was whether these neural-like cells would form tumors, a characteristic of many types of stem cells. To test this, the team injected the cells below the skin and in the brains of mice, and after one month, no tumors were found.

"Right now, patients with glioblastomas or other brain tumors have very poor outcomes and relatively few treatment options," said Alexander Birbrair, a doctoral student in Delbono's lab and first author of these studies. "Because our cells survived and migrated in the brain, we may be able to use them as drug-delivery vehicles in the future, not only for brain tumors but also for other central nervous system diseases."

In addition, the Wake Forest Baptist team is now conducting research to determine if these neural-like cells also have the capability to become functioning neurons in the central nervous system.

Explore further: Microbes provide insights into evolution of human language

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Cell division speed influences gene architecture

Apr 23, 2014

Speed-reading is a technique used to read quickly. It involves visual searching for clues to meaning and skipping non-essential words and/ or sentences. Similarly to humans, biological systems are sometimes ...

Secret life of cells revealed with new technique

Apr 23, 2014

(Phys.org) —A new technique that allows researchers to conduct experiments more rapidly and accurately is giving insights into the workings of proteins important in heart and muscle diseases.

In the 'slime jungle' height matters

Apr 23, 2014

(Phys.org) —In communities of microbes, akin to 'slime jungles', cells evolve not just to grow faster than their rivals but also to push themselves to the surface of colonies where they gain the best access ...

Queuing theory helps physicist understand protein recycling

Apr 22, 2014

We've all waited in line and most of us have gotten stuck in a check-out line longer than we would like. For Will Mather, assistant professor of physics and an instructor with the College of Science's Integrated Science Curriculum, ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

New breast cancer imaging method promising

The new PAMmography method for imaging breast cancer developed by the University of Twente's MIRA research institute and the Medisch Spectrum Twente hospital appears to be a promising new method that could ...

Research proves nanobubbles are superstable

The intense research interest in surface nanobubbles arises from their potential applications in microfluidics and the scientific challenge for controlling their fundamental physical properties. One of the ...

Using antineutrinos to monitor nuclear reactors

When monitoring nuclear reactors, the International Atomic Energy Agency has to rely on input given by the operators. In the future, antineutrino detectors may provide an additional option for monitoring. ...