Chemotherapy saves lives, but it also kills healthy tissue like bone marrow. According to a new study involving three patients with glioblastoma, a deadly cancer of the brain, stem cells from cancer patients’ own blood may protect their bone marrow from the toxic effects of treatment.
Glioblastomas often carry an active form of a gene called MGMT, which is a DNA repair enzyme that protects the cancer cells against chemotherapy. To overcome that protective effect, doctors use benzylguanine, a drug that blocks MGMT – but that drug also makes bone marrow and blood cells vulnerable. For this study, scientists at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Washington took a different approach by transplanting gene-modified stem cells into study participants.
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Muscle wasting linked to old age might one day be treated using stem cells, claim US scientists.
A University of Colorado team transplanted cells into mice and saw the muscle more than double in size - staying that way even into old age.
They say their work, reported in Science Translational Medicine, may have promise in treating muscle-wasting conditions such as muscular dystrophy.
A UK expert said producing a human treatment might be difficult.
Stem cells are cells found in the body which can divide and become a variety of different types of tissue.
Scientists believe they could potentially help treat a large number of problems by helping to re-populate areas of tissue damaged by disease or injury.
A common problem in older people is muscle weakness, linked to a loss of muscle mass in the arms and legs.
This can lead to a swift fall in the quality of life for older people and in some cases increase the need for extra care and support.
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Imagine that a police bomb squad comes upon a diabolically designed bomb controlled by a tangled mass of different wires, lights and switches, some of which have a real function while others are decoys. The police don’t know how to begin defusing the bomb because they don’t know which parts are important. Then imagine the police discover the bomb-making factory and are able to see hundreds of these bombs at various stages of construction. With this information, they can reconstruct how the bomb was put together, and therefore how to disarm it.
For a team of researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine, the bombs they need to defuse are killer leukemias. The researchers report that they have used advanced techniques to survey what’s in the “bomb factory:” the stem cells that produce all blood cells. In the process, they have proven a controversial theory that blood cancers — and perhaps all cancers — arise only when mutations accumulate over long periods of time in stem cells.
The research, published Aug. 29 in Science Translational Medicine, also sets the stage for the discovery of more effective therapies for defeating deadly cancers.
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