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The only hope for central nervous system disorder patients

The only hope for central nervous system disorder patients

Publish date: 2014-12-09

Stem cells have been already applied both in research and clinical trials seeking for new therapies of diseases affecting the central nervous system. Although they have long been a subject of ethical discussions, their potential in neuroscience research is constantly growing.

Tags: nanotechnologia , pharma

Central nervous system diseases affect both brain and spinal cord. Among those, neurodegenerative diseases caused by progressive loss of structure or function of neurons include Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. In Parkinson’s disease, a fetal tissue transplantation has proven that dopaminergic neurons can take over the functions that have been lost due to the disease. There is more to stem cells than only replacement – this type of cells serves as a tool for understanding the biology of the human body. It is estimated that there are about 30 million people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease worldwide, and the number will be constantly growing due to the rapid aging of the society.

According to professor Eva Sykova, there is a big advantage in using stem cells. Why? Because there are diseases of central neurone system which medicine has not been able to cure yet. So far, only symptoms of the diseases have been treated. Stem cells and their potential can give hope for developing a new treatment for some major diseases, or at least a way to slow down their progression.

 

The ongoing research at the Institute of Experimental Medicine in Czech Republic focuses on numerous CNS diseases, such as Alzhaimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and brain injuries. Spinal cord injuries are already advanced in the research, where adult stem cells are used in clinical trials. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis ALS is now also a subject of research – a spinal motor neurons disease that recently has become famous for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, spread on the Internet. Experiments conducted on animals have proven that stem cells from bone marrow can slow down this disease.

Stem cells and their unique ability to convert into any type of other cell are considered by scientists as a potential replacement for degenerated neurons in some diseases. By modifying the in vitro culture conditions, stem cells can be grown and differentiated, on both 2D and 3D matrices. The key is to understand how to control the conditions to direct the development in the desired direction. One should bear in mind, that there are still years of research ahead before the promises of rapid clinical cures will be fulfilled.

 

Aleksandra Kowalczyk

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