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Saturday, March 7, 2009

A novel way to make human stem cells from skin without the risk of disease caused by genetic manipulation

Stem Cell Research Takes Another Step Forward

By Michael Smith, North American Correspondent, MedPage Today
Published: March 05, 2009
Reviewed by Zalman S. Agus, MD; Emeritus Professor University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., March 5 -- For the second time in a week, researchers are reporting a novel way to make human stem cells from skin without the risk of disease caused by genetic manipulation.

Using skin fibroblasts from people with Parkinson's disease, Rudolf Jaenisch, M.D., of the Whitehead Institute and colleagues used now-established methods to create what are called induced pluripotent stem cells.

The new wrinkle, they reported in the March 6 issue of Cell, is that they were then able to remove all traces of the factors used to reprogram the skin cells.

The report comes only days after two collaborating groups -- one in Great Britain and one in Canada -- reported on a way to generate such cells without using viruses to insert the reprogramming factors. (See: Two Teams 'PiggyBAC' Stem Cell Research)

Skin cells can be a fertile source of pluripotent cells, as several research groups have shown. But the method -- using a virus to carry four genes into skin cells -- is thought to carry the risk of disease. (See: Adult Skin Cells Reprogrammed into Stem Cells for Disease Research)

The four genes -- c-Myc, Klf4, Oct4 and Sox -- reprogram skin cells to act as stem cells, but the virus itself is considered a potential danger, since it could disrupt the DNA of a patient's cell and possibly cause cancer. In addition, c-Myc is an oncogene and some of the other genes involved can also cause cancer.

There are also concerns that the viral vector may affect what genes are on or off in the newly created stem cells, so that the use of viruses is a major limitation of current technology, Dr. Jaenisch said in a statement.

To get around that limit, he said, "we used a modified virus you can excise. After they've done their job, you can get rid of them."

The researchers took skin fibroblasts from five patients with idiopathic Parkinson's disease and two healthy volunteers. Using either all four of the reprogramming factors or a subset lacking c-Myc, they employed a lentivirus to carry the genes into the cells.

The trick was that the lentivirus had been modified so that it could be found and excised by an enzyme called Cre recombinase.

After a line of stem cells had been created, they could be treated with the enzyme to establish a daughter line that retained no trace of the original reprogramming factors or the viral vector, the researchers said.

Both sets of cell lines -- with and without the reprogramming factors -- were shown to have the genetic markers of pluripotency and could be made to grow into dopaminergic neurons, Dr. Jaenisch and colleagues said.

The establishment of in vitro lines of neurons derived from Parkinson's patients should be a boon to research on the disease, Dr. Jaenisch and colleagues said.
"Such in vitro models could be utilized for large-scale genetic or drug-based screens since large numbers of (stem cells) can be generated and robustly differentiated into dopaminergic neurons," they said.

But the new method of getting rid of the transforming factors is also important, since one aspect of the experiments showed that they affect the genetic profile of the new stem cell.

Dr. Jaenisch and colleagues used genome-wide expression analysis to see what genes were active in human embryonic stem cells, induced pluripotent stem cells, and the induced stem cells without the transforming factors.

They found 271 genes whose expression was significantly different (at P<0.05)>
In contrast, they found, only 48 genes were differentially expressed between embryonic stem cells and the factor-free pluripotent cells -- a reduction of 80%.
"The vector-free cells are much more closely related to embryonic stem cells than to the parental cells," Dr. Jaenisch said. The finding "argues that even low vector expression somehow changes the transcriptional profile of cells."

The factor-free stem cells may also form a source of neurons for transplant, the researchers said, especially since they were derived from patients regardless of age.
The research was supported by the Life Science Research Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Udall Parkinson's Disease Center of Excellence, and the Michael Stern Foundation.
Dr. Jaenisch is an adviser to Stemgent, which has obtained a license from MIT to distribute some of the reagents used in this paper.


SEE ACTION POINTS with regards to this form of Stem Cell procedure (pertaining to this article) by clicking here

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"Second Life" virtual world for patients living with MS


I’ve been reading your blog and thought your readers might be interested in this two-part video about a woman, Alice Kreuger, an MS advocate, who has created a Second Life virtual world for patients living with MS. The videos can be viewed on the Johnson & Johnson Health Channel on YouTube. Here are the links to the videos:

Part One:

Part Two:

All the best,

Justine Massiello

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Paroxysmal Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis: They Come and They Go

Denise I. Campagnolo MD, MS––Interim Multiple Sclerosis Program Director, Barrow Neurological Institute, Phoenix, Arizona

MS Attack
A multiple sclerosis (MS) attack, also called a relapse or exacerbation, is the sudden onset of new neurological symptoms or the reoccurrence of previous resolved symptoms. Further, true attacks typically last at minimum 24 hours, usually days to weeks, and generally are agreed to have to occur at least 30 days from a previous attack, so that they are separated in time.

The underlying cause of the MS relapse is inflammation in the nervous system. The inflammatory immune response strips the nerves of their insulation, or myelin, allowing the electrical signals to “short out” as they move about the nervous system. When inflammation causes the myelin to be damaged, the medical community refers to the process as demyelination. Demyelination occurs at focal points, termed “lesions” on MRI, resulting in many of the symptoms associated with MS.

Inflammation can vary in strength and location, which results in a wide-array of symptoms. Symptoms from an attack can vary from mild, such as a blurring of vision, to severe, such as complete loss of vision. They also vary in functional outcome by location: inflammation in the brain can cause problems with thinking whereas inflammation in the sensory tracts of the spinal cord may cause numbness. Typically, the formation of a new neurological symptom results from a new focal area of demyelination, or MS lesion. The deterioration of previous symptoms results from the reactivation, and subsequent worsening, of an old MS lesion. (

» Read More

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The Future of Multiple Sclerosis Treatments

This Feature Presentation will discuss how damage occurs in MS, how myelin repairs itself, transcription factors, and nervous system repair.
Click here to view the webcast, or
copy into your browser: If you have a pop-up blocker, you will need to disable it prior to participating in a MS Learn Online webcast.

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Myelin Repair Foundation

Tell a Friend about Myelin Repair and MS

This month many of you will be participating in activities to raise awareness among your individual communities about multiple sclerosis—its impact on your life and the lives of others you care about, and the state of scientific knowledge about the disease that may lead to treatments and cures. In spite of considerable investments by the federal government, non-profits and industry, the exact cause of MS remains unknown, there are no diagnostic laboratory tests available and there is no cure.

I hope you will take a few minutes this month, as you get together with friends and family, to talk about myelin repair and the hope it offers so many with MS for whom immunosuppressant therapies alone have failed to hold the disease at bay.

As recently as 7 or 8 years ago the prospect of myelin repair was pretty much science fiction. Over the last 4½ years, our team of collaborative scientists has demonstrated in animal models of MS that myelin repair is a viable therapeutic strategy for multiple sclerosis. And with your support, we are investing in validating those discoveries for commercial development and creating a new level of interest among biotech and pharmaceutical companies in myelin repair.

In 2004, we set out, within five years, to partner with a biotech or pharmaceutical company to develop a myelin repair treatment based on the discoveries made by our collaborative scientific team. Today, as the world’s largest medical research organization with a singular focus on myelin repair, we are on a direct course toward meeting this ambitious goal. In large measure this has been made possible by all of you.

We are grateful for your continued interest and support and ask you once again to share the MRF’s story with your friends and family. Send this link to a friend or two and help us to reach others who may wish to support our research and prove that medical research for all diseases can and should be accelerated,.

Scott Johnson

Myelin Repair Foundation

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Friday, March 6, 2009

Embryonic Stem Cell Research ban being lifted after almost (8) year restriction

Obama to Lift Ban on Funding for Embryonic Stem Cell Research

By Rob Stein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 6, 2009; 3:52 PM

President Obama is planning to sign an executive order on Monday rolling back restrictions on federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research, according to sources close to the issue.

Although the exact wording of the order has not been revealed, the White House plans an 11 a.m. ceremony to sign the order repealing one of the most controversial steps taken by his predecessor, fulfilling one of Obama's eagerly anticipated campaign promises.

The move, long sought by scientists and patient advocates and opposed by religious groups, would enable the National Institutes of Health to consider requests from scientists to study hundreds of lines of cells that have been developed since the limitations were put in place -- lines that scientists and patient advocate say hold great hope for leading to cures for a host of major ailments.

» Read More

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Multiple sclerosis (MS) in children is being recognized with increasing frequency

Source: United Spinal Association - March 2009 Newsletter

Jean Marie B. Ahorro, MD––The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario Canada; Brenda L. Banwell, MD––Director, Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis Clinic The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario Canada

Multiple sclerosis (MS) in children is being recognized with increasing frequency. The first descriptions of MS in children were published by Charcot between 1829 and 1849, though it was not for another 50 years that MS in children was again described in the literature (Hanefeld, 2007). There are now several national programs focused on the research and clinical management of children with MS. Recently, an International Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis Study group was constituted with the goal of fostering collaborative efforts (for more information, email:

Demographics and Epidemiology of Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis
How common is MS in children?
Analysis suggests that 2% to 5% of all patients with MS are diagnosed before their 16th birthday (Ness et al., 2007). These estimates, however, are based on retrospective review of established adult MS populations and may underestimate the true prevalence of the disease in the pediatric population. The annual average incidence of a first demyelinating event in Canadian children is 0.9/100,000, but has been reported as lower in other parts of the world (Banwell et al., 2007; Pohl, 2008). The incidence of MS diagnosis following an acute demyelinating event is the subject of ongoing research.

Continue to read article directly from United Spinal's Quarterly Report

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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Skin Patches Pose MRI Risk

Source: MS Foundation

Skin Patches Pose MRI Risk

FDA issues warning
March 5, 2009

Wearing skin patches, including those used to aid in smoking cessation, may pose a burn risk for people undergoing MRI, the FDA has warned.

The agency has issued a public health advisory cautioning that aluminum and other metals used in the backings of some patches available over the counter or by prescription may conduct electricity during the procedure, resulting in a burn.

The risk of a burn may not be raised on the package insert for such items, the FDA has warned.

Patients undergoing MRI should inform healthcare staff if they wear a medicated patch prior to the procedure.

For more information about this warning, visit

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An Un-Expected Gift from A Good-Samaritan

I just received the letter found below. This tore me up. I couldn't speak for almost (5) minutes.

I do not know Erica nor her family. Wished I could reach out and give Erica and her family a hug from the guy whose eyes welled with wetness, when having opened the envelope and read what is found here:. (I have removed her confidential info)

February 27, 2009


Hello. My name is Erica and my Mom has MS too. I made my Confirmation in October and as a family rule my Parents have us take some of our Confirmation money and support a charity. Picking the Ms Society was an easy choice. My Mom showed me your article and Website and I decided to send it to you.

My Mom was diagnosed when I was just 3 and now I am 15. She has been doing very well just like you.. She takes Copaxone everyday and I give her a lot of credit for giving herself a shot everyday ... I am afraid of needles! As she says .. "I would rather give myself a shot every morning and each night thank God that he has given me another day.'''

I hope that they will find a cure soon. Her Mom had MS also and back then they really didn't have anything for the disease. She died before I was born but we hear so many stories about her I feel like I knew her!

Good Luck.




I hope after you read Erica's message to me, that you felt as I did.

By the way everybody -- Her check was for $ 100.00 !!!!!!!
Goodness Gracious

We should all have (or have had) children like Erica...
- My additional thanks to her mom and dad. -

Appreciatively and Fondly,

Stuart Schlossman

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Genetics Studies Yield New Clues to Why People Get MS

National MS Society
Mar 05, 2009

Genetics Studies Yield New Clues to Why People Get MS

New studies are deciphering the complex picture of genetic characteristics that make people susceptible to MS, thanks to international collaborations and unique population studies. Each gives important new clues about why people get MS. Additional large-scale studies, the first stages of which are already underway, promise to uncover the great majority of genes that convey risk for MS, which would pave the way for understanding the basic cause of MS and developing more rational therapies.

» Read More

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Workshop on Strategies to Find Cause of MS

Mar 04, 2009

Society Convenes International Workshop on Strategies to Find Cause of MS, Factors Driving Progression, and Ways to Develop Better Estimates of MS Frequency

What triggers MS, and when? While most develop symptoms in adulthood, many scientists believe that people whose genes make them susceptible to MS encounter the unknown trigger years before symptoms occur, but no one knows when. Is it in the teen years? Before birth?

A recent international workshop convened by the National MS Society, co-chaired by epidemiologist Lorene Nelson, PhD (Stanford University) and neurologist Leslie Weiner, MD (University of Southern California), considered these and other questions to develop strategies to identify MS triggering and risk factors that cause MS (or protect against it), factors that drive MS progression and predict prognosis, and studies to determine its prevalence and incidence in the U.S.

re-direct to NMSS webpage for further information, click here

Have a Question, Comment or information for others? If so, please use the post comment link found below. Your name and email address would be appreciated but is not necessary unless you want a response from others. Thank You

MS Awareness Week

MS Awareness Week March 2 – 8

is the time for the nation to go orange and Move It to end multiple sclerosis, a disease where someone is newly diagnosed each hour. Supported by a Congressional Resolution, this year MS Awareness Week and the state of MS research aptly coincide: Move It to create a world free of MS.

Research Moving People with MS Forward with Their Lives

This is a watershed year in MS research with more than a dozen new therapies moving through the MS pipeline including the first two oral disease modifying drugs and the first symptom management drug that improves walking;

  • Exciting new research is also underway into Vitamin D and MS which is revealing an ever stronger tie between susceptibility to MS and reduced levels of Vitamin D;
  • Recent discoveries of new genes that make people susceptible to MS are providing clues to stopping and preventing the disease
  • The six Pediatric MS Centers established across the country offer the potential for finding the cause of MS by studying children with the disease, who could still harbor clues to what caused their MS because the environmental triggers may still be present.
CLICK here to be redirected to the National MS Society webpage

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Choosing a Therapy That's Right for You

Info provided by Joe, in Miami

We are pleased to inform you that February's new online
video from Talk MS is available for viewing!

View February's Talk MS online video:
Choosing a Therapy That's Right for You
Gather important information that can help you and your healthcare team consider which therapy for relapsing MS may be right for you.
Remember, when you join Talk MS the day a new=2 0program is released, you will have an opportunity to submit a question to Dr. Randy Schapiro, who may answer it in a future event.
Do you want to hear more about MS LifeLines Access Made Simple?
Tune in to this month's Talk MS or learn more online!
Save the date for upcoming Talk MS video releases!
Download the Talk MS schedule
MS LifeLines® is Here for You!
Check out our Symptoms Checklist
Keeping track of your symptoms is one way to stay in touch with your relapsing MS. Use this convenient form to track and share your symptoms with your healthcare provider.

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Have you ever been affected by: Painful paroxysmal symptoms?

Written By: Stuart Schlossman
March 4, 2009

Definition: Painful paroxysmal symptoms (PPS) were defined as transient painful symptoms in any area of the body, with abrupt onset, brief duration, from a few seconds to a few minutes, with repetitive and stereotyped features.

PAIN is My problem this week. Brought on probably by my "over-doing" of things this past weekend. On Saturday, I attempted to play what is known as a game of Golf in Mid 80 Temperature. What my game looked like and became, was trying to keep the ball from landing 10-20 feet in front of me or keeping it out of the water hazards along each fairway. An utter disaster at the heat caused almost imminent fatigue, not allowing my arms to correctly swing at that little ball.

» Read More

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Stem Cell transplant trial results - The Lancet Neurology

Stem Cell transplant trial results - The Lancet Neurology

The Lancet Neurology has published the results of a trial involving stem cell transplantation in people with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (MS).

The results of the Chicago study of around 20 people show that the treatment halted progression of disability and could potentially reverse the damage caused in MS.

» Read more

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Monday, March 2, 2009

Wheelchair Kamikaze's next Video: The Amster-DASH

This video is just over (5) minutes in length and has a nice announcement at the very end, when there are words to be read.

You will enjoy this newest video from Marc in NYC.. It is Entertaining and so real, for so many people who need to depend on wheelchair or scooter accessibility.

Click this:
to view this exceptional short-film.

THIS VIDEO CAN ALSO be Found our website's homepage at:
and by scrolling down this blog to the lower right of this blog page.

Leave a comment for Marc or for others who face the same challenges each day

Oh, My achin’….! Could this be Spasticity?

By Cherie C. Binns, RN BS MSCN 3/1/09

Those of us who have played sports, worked out rigorously, are parents of young children or grandchildren, have suffered a major injury or accident….know what pain is. And that pain often comes back to haunt us at the most inconvenient times. We are caught in the act of lifting something out of the trunk of a car or picking up a child, or taking something off a high shelf, or trying to get a good night’s sleep only to have pain keep us awake and aware.

For years (with a history of a couple of automobile accidents, injuries while working on the family farm, a broken tailbone, a torn ACL in my left knee) I suffered short and long term bouts of discomfort and out right pain that at times, interfered with my level of activity or my quality of sleep. For years my docs listened to the history and threw mild muscle relaxants and Ibuprofen or mild narcotic pain meds my way to alleviate this. For years they said something to the effect of, “Well, you know….now that you have MS, all these old injuries will come back to haunt you. The body has a long term memory.” And for years I accepted that rationale.

Continue reading this in depth story by clicking here then scrolling down to "Oh my achin'..."

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What do you know of the Myelin Repair Foundation?

Dianne in Pittsburgh writes:

I am writing to tell you about the Myelin Repair Foundation and how their work is speeding progress toward new treatments for MS. Myelin repair is the newest and most promising pathway toward curbing the symptoms of MS and exponentially improving the quality of life of those living with the disease today.

Please take a moment to register with the MRF and learn more about their work and the hope their work holds for so many of us living with MS.

Help the MRF reach the millions who care about MS.

Register here: now.

Thanks so much!


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