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Thursday, September 21, 2017
Tuesday, September 19, 2017
A promising report from India appears to bolster the case that stem cell therapies might one day reverse the progression of multiple sclerosis (MS), but experts say there remain many more questions than answers when it comes to the potential treatment option.
Earlier this month, Indian research firm Advancells announced the results of a single-patient pilot study. The firm said they used an autologous adult stem cell therapy to successfully reverse MS symptoms in a patient from New Zealand.
The patient said he was able to regain the ability to climb stairs following the procedure, something he hadn’t done in five years. The company says they plan to track MRI scans and other data over the next several months in order to understand and document the full impact of the treatment on the disease.
Despite the apparent improvement in symptoms for the Advancells patient, researchers say there’s still much not know about stem cell-based therapies.
Bruce Bebo (pictured), PhD, the executive vice president of research at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, said it’s far too early to be able to draw any concrete conclusions about the promise of stem cell treatments for MS.
“There’s a lot of unanswered questions that need to be answered in a rigorous methodical way in order for us to really understand the full potential and all the risks,” Bebo said.
Among the questions, according to Bebo: what are the best sources for cells, what’s the best delivery method for cells, how many cells need to be transplanted, and which candidates are most likely to benefit from such a treatment?
Advancells took cells from the patient’s bone marrow, isolated adult stem cells, and then injected them back into the body at strategic points to induce natural repairs mechanisms in the body to act.
In addition to the method used by Advancells, other researchers are working on a therapy known as autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, in which stem cells are withdrawn from a patient and then chemotherapy is used to weaken the patient’s immune system. Once the immune system is weakened, the stimulated stem cells are transplanted back into the patient in hopes of essentially “rebooting” the patient’s immune system so it will no longer attack the central nervous system.
One other method being studied involves growing or reprogramming cells to induce myelin repair. The National MS Society published a paper last month outlining the status of various stem cell research.
The bottom line is that, in the case of all of these methods, there have yet to be any rigorous large-scale human-based studies to demonstrate or refute the therapies.
Bebo also noted that while stem cells have been used successfully to treat macular degeneration, studies attempting to use cell-based therapies to treat Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases have proven less successful.
“There’s promise but a lot of work that needs to be done in order to fully understand both the promise and pitfalls of this approach,” Bebo said.
A significant intake of iron may contribute to multiple sclerosis (MS) in children, according to a new report.
Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco examined 312 pediatric MS patients and 456 controls in order to to determine the association between dietary factors and MS in the population. The children were recruited from 16 US centers, and were diagnosed with MS before reaching 18 years old.
The patients and their parents also completed the Block Kids Food Screener questionnaire 2011-2016. The 41-question survey asked about development, environmental exposures, medical history, demographic information, and race.
There are anecdotal reports of amelioration of MS symptoms when a patient adopts a “healthy” diet such as Mediterranean or low-fat/ high fiber, researchers wrote. However, there are currently no dietary guidelines for patients with MS and their at-risk relatives. And so far, dietary studies for MS patients have centered on vitamin D and obesity, but not overall diets.
The researchers observed an average dietary intake of fiber, iron, and dairy was significantly lower in MS patients compared to controls. When the investigators categorized their data by males vs. females, the only average dietary difference was dietary fiber in males.
The mean calorie intake for cases and controls was similar between the groups, and the percentage energy intake from protein, carbohydrates, and fat did not present and differences between MS patients and controls.
However, the data did suggest a presence of lower iron intake among cases of pediatric MS, Dr. Julia Pakpoor told MD Magazine. The study is the first of its kind to examine the diets of pediatric MS patients, researchers wrote, while other studies looked at dietary factors in MS patients, such as fat intake, or fruit and vegetable intake, and gut microbiota modulation.
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Friday, September 15, 2017
Thursday, September 14, 2017
Nortis Inc. was awarded a $688,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health. The money will fund the third year of a Small Business Innovation Research fast-track grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
Kevin Banks, PhD, Nortis’ vice president of sales and marketing, told MD Magazine that the technology dovetails nicely with efforts by drug developers to reduce animal testing and lower the rate of clinical trial failures. Banks noted that about 4 of every 10 Phase III studies are failures, a ratio that translates to expensive losses for drug companies.
“This is primarily due to efficacy and safety failures of the drugs, which have been primarily tested to that point using animal models and not human models,” Banks said. “The vision of using human 3D tissue models is to reduce clinical trial failure rates by using more relevant human models early in the drug development process.”
Drug delivery to the brain has long been a challenge for pharmaceutical companies. The blood-brain barrier, which is composed of endothelial tissue, protects the brain from foreign substances and helps maintain a constant environment, but the barrier also can stop drug molecules from getting into the brain.
Thus, companies developing drugs that require entry into the brain to trigger the desired pharmacological response have a major interest in efficiently and reliably figuring out how their therapies hold up against the barrier.
A randomized trial of clitoral vacuum suction versus vibratory stimulation in neurogenic female orgasmic dysfunction.