Jab inside your ear to restore hearing! New drug prompts stem cells to grow into hair-like cilia cells to reverse hearing loss

By ALICE JAFFE

A gel that’s injected into the ear could reverse hearing loss. Called FX-322, the one-off jab works by encouraging dormant stem cells inside the ear to grow into healthy new auditory cells capable of transmitting sounds to the brain.

Stem cells are immature cells found throughout the body, and many have the capacity to grow into virtually any type of tissue.

The new drug prompts these dormant cells to grow into cilia. These tiny hair-like cells pick up sounds and turn them into electrical impulses that are sent along the auditory nerve to the brain for processing.

Around 11 million people in the UK are affected by hearing loss, eight million of whom are aged 60 or older. Short-term hearing loss can occur as a result of ear infections or wax build-up.

Stem cells are immature cells found throughout the body, and many have the capacity to grow into virtually any type of tissue. The new drug prompts these dormant cells to grow into cilia

But while this is treatable, hearing loss due to damage to the cilia — for example, from repeated exposure to loud noise or changes in the inner ear as we age — is largely untreatable because the cells cannot repair themselves.

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Chinese experts first make human stem cell via chemical reprogramming

Chinese scientists have translated human somatic cells back into pluripotent stem cells with chemical molecules. /CFP

Chinese scientists have translated human somatic cells back into pluripotent stem cells, an “adult” version of early embryonic cells, using chemical molecules.

A group of researchers led by Deng Hongkui from Peking University reported finding the chemical cellular reprogramming technique for the first time ever.

The technique can be developed into universal knowhow on how to efficiently cultivate human cells of various functions, offering new possibilities for treating critical illnesses, the researchers said.

Previously, the cell-intrinsic components, including oocyte cytoplasm and transcription factors, were used to reprogram cells in human tissue or organs into pluripotent stem cells that can propagate to give rise to every other cell type in the body.

Inspired by how lower animals like axolotl regenerate its limb, the researchers demonstrated that the highly differentiated human somatic cells could experience plastic changes, triggered by certain chemical molecules, according to the study published recently in the journal Nature.

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Blood stem cells treat brain disease after transplant

By Anette Breindl

Researchers at Stanford University have developed a method to efficiently replace microglia, which are brain-specific immune cells, via a modified bone marrow transplant.

They used their approach to ameliorate a mouse model of prosaposin deficiency, an early-onset neurodegenerative disorder that is an atypical form of the lysosomal storage disorder Gaucher disease.

“We have developed a protocol, a way, to essentially replace all microglia in the brain with very similar cells, [and] We have shown that this replacement can be used for a therapeutic application,” Marius Wernig told BioWorld. “By using genetically normal cells, you can rectify the problem. Cure is too much of a word, but certainly treat.”

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Researchers produce fully functional pancreatic beta cells from stem cells for the first time

Beta cells (green) produce the hormone insulin.

by  University of Helsinki

Insulin is a vital hormone produced by pancreatic beta cells. Type 1 diabetes is caused by the destruction of these cells, which results in patients having to replace the lost insulin with multiple daily injections.

Insulin secretion can be restored in diabetic patients by transplanting beta cells isolated from the pancreas of a brain dead organ donor. However, this treatment has not been widely introduced, since cells from at least two donors are needed to cure one diabetic.

For a long time, attempts have been made to produce functional beta cells from stem cells, which could make this treatment increasingly common. However, the beta cells produced from stem cells have so far been immature, with poorly regulated insulin secretion. This may be a partial explanation for why no breakthroughs have been achieved in the clinical trials based on immature cells ongoing in the United States.

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Israeli study: Stem cells may help multiple sclerosis brain ‘repair itself’

Eight of 15 patients who receive NG-01 therapy as spinal injection see better disability scores; inventors say therapy may ‘dramatically improve’ patients’ lives

By NATHAN JEFFAY

A new Israeli stem cell therapy, intended to make the brain of multiple sclerosis sufferers “repair itself,” has shown promise in a small clinical trial, with several patients experiencing hopeful biological changes and reduced disability.

NeuroGenesis, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, tested its personalized NG-01 therapy on patients, administering it in two different ways. An intravenous injection had some effect, but doctors observed particularly positive changes among patients who received an injection into the spinal cord fluid.

Of the 15 patients who received spinal injections, nine subsequently experienced a drop in levels of neurofilament light chain (NfL), a protein that is heightened among MS patients as disability progresses. In a control group that received placebo injections, only one of the 15 patients experienced such a drop.

Of the nine patients who received the therapy as a spinal injection and had reduced NfL levels, all but one went on to have improved disability scores, even 12 months later when the research finished. The study has been peer-reviewed and published in the journal Stem Cells Translational Medicine.

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Newly Discovered Stem Cell Resembles Cells in Early Human Embryo

Researchers from the Reik lab have today published their latest work describing a new subset of human embryonic stem cells that closely resemble the cells present at the genomic ‘wake up call’ of the 8-cell embryo stage in humans. This new stem cell model will allow researchers to map out the key genomic changes during early development, and  help move towards a better understanding of the implications of genome activation errors in developmental disorders and embryo loss.

In all mammals, the early embryo undergoes a number of molecular events just after fertilisation that set the stage for the rest of development. During this key ‘wake up call’ the genome of the embryo takes over control of the cell’s activities from the maternal genome. In humans, this happens at the 8-cell stage and is called zygotic genome activation (ZGA). 

Before the findings of this study, investigating the details of human ZGA could only be done in human embryos; existing human stem cell models represented the embryo only at later stages of the developmental process. In the UK, experiments using embryos are permitted but highly regulated, meaning that research into early development relied in part on alternative, non-human models.

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Stem cells instead of drugs? Northwestern trial testing a way to help strengthen transplant patients’ immune systems

By MADELINE BUCKLEY

Before her mother’s kidney transplant, Arianna Barrett watched a medical professional carefully extract stem cells from her own neck with a feeling that she was observing scientific developments in real time.

Since her mother was diagnosed with kidney disease, Barrett, a 36-year-old Chicago teacher, always knew she wanted to donate a kidney to her mother, even though her mother, Margaret Rainey, had reservations about her daughter having a major surgery.ADVERTISEMENT

But the mother-daughter pair did more than share an organ. Doctors transplanted stem cells from Barrett into her mother to teach Rainey’s immune system to recognize her new kidney.

“It was a little daunting, but so cool to see how far the medicine has come,” Barrett said.

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Decades of research show common stem cells could fuel advances in regenerative medicine

Adult stem cells (indicated by the white arrows) show promise in treating a variety of conditions, according to research by Dr. Eckhard Alt of the School of Medicine. These cells were obtained from adult adipose, or fat tissue. Credit: Dr. Eckhard Alt

by  Tulane University

Could naturally occurring stem cells throughout the body hold the key to unlocking the next generation of advances in regenerative medicine?

Absolutely, according to Tulane University Professor of Medicine Dr. Eckhard Alt, who recently published a perspective in the journal Cells that outlines how a type of adult stem cell holds tremendous promise to fuel advances in treating everything from knee joint restoration to helping paraplegics regain mobility after severe spinal cord injuries.

The article provides strong evidence supporting the existence of a small, vascular-associated, pluripotent stem cell type (vaPS cells) that is ubiquitously distributed throughout all organs of the adult body. Pluripotent stem cells can transform into any type of cell.

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Using Young Stem Cells to Restore Old Stem Cells

The restored cells regain many, but not all, of their youthful abilities.

By Josh Conway

In a study published in Aging, researchers have found that younger hematopoietic cells can restore older hematopoietic cells through microvesicles, which are facilitators of intercellular communication.

WHY WE AGE: ALTERED INTERCELLULAR COMMUNICATION.

Altered intercellular communication, as described in the Hallmarks of Aging, is the change in signals between cells that can lead to some of the diseases and disabilities of aging.


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Building Stronger Anti-Cancer Therapies With Stem Cells

Cancer therapies have seen great development over the decades. Radiotherapies and chemotherapies have saved countless lives, but the latest arsenal, adoptive cell therapies (ACT), has stirred most excitement. In ACT, cells are processed to enhance their anti-cancer immune effects and injected into the patient. A new study by CiRA Professor Shin Kaneko and colleagues shows how iPS cell technology can produce some of the most potent anti-cancer immune cells for ACT yet.

T cells are the primary cells used in ACT, as they are the immune cells in the body most capable of killing cancer. However, current strategies using T cells have several, limiting the number of patients who can benefit from ACT. The Kaneko lab is exploring iPS cell technology as a solution.

“We have to process the T cells before injecting them into the patient. This processing affects the quality. If we first process the cells as iPS cells and then differentiate them into T cells, we can avoid many of these problems,” he said.

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Scientists Use Nanotechnology To Detect Bone-Healing Stem Cells

Researchers at the University of Southampton have developed a new way of using nanomaterials to identify and enrich skeletal stem cells — a discovery which could eventually lead to new treatments for major bone fractures and the repair of lost or damaged bone.

Working together, a team of physicists, chemists, and tissue engineering experts used specially designed gold nanoparticles to ‘seek out’ specific human bone stem cells — creating a fluorescent glow to reveal their presence among other types of cells and allow them to be isolated or ‘enriched’.

The researchers concluded their new technique is simpler and quicker than other methods and up to 50-500 times more effective at enriching stem cells.

The study, led by Professor of Musculoskeletal Science, Richard Oreffo and Professor Antonios Kanaras of the Quantum, Light and Matter Group in the School of Physics and Astronomy, is published in ACS Nano — an internationally recognized multidisciplinary journal.

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New Blood: Lab-Grown Stem Cells Bode Well for Transplants, Aging Research

Newswise — Hematopoietic stem cells — the precursors to blood cells — have been notoriously difficult to grow in a dish, a critical tool in basic research. Scientists at University of California San Diego School of Medicine have identified the underlying issue and developed a method to keep cultured cells healthy. These findings, they say, are positive news for patients seeking stem cell transplants — and may hint at a new way to ward off aging.

The findings will be published in the August 12, 2021 online issue of Cell Stem Cell.

In bone marrow transplants, hematopoietic stem cells are infused intravenously to reestablish blood production in patients whose bone marrow or immune system is damaged. The procedure is used to treat diseases such as leukemia, lymphoma, aplastic anemia and immune deficiency disorders. However, donor stem cells are not always available for patients who need them.

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