July 15, 2011

Stem Cells Restoring Cognition

(Ivanhoe Newswire)--Studies show that stem cell therapy may be the diagnosis in restoring cognition for patients with brain cancer. Some patients who suffer from brain cancer experience functional learning and memory loss often associated with radiation treatment. Although radiation therapy has been the standard of care for patients with brain cancer, it can have severe and devastating side effects.

Radiation therapy utilizes high-energy radiation to shrink and kill cancer cells, but it may be doing much more damage to the brain. Charles Limoli, Ph.D., professor in the department of radiation oncology at the University of California was quoted saying "In almost every instance, people experience severe cognitive impairment that is progressive, debilitating, and adversely impacts quality of life. Pediatric cancer patients can experience a drop of up to three IQ points per year."

A new development in regaining cognition is the use of stem cells. Stem cells are immature cells that are found in the bone marrow, blood stream, and in umbilical cords. These immature cells later develop into blood cells. Stem cells can be damaged in certain cancer treatments and therefore hospitals are developing techniques to add healthy stem cells back into your body post treatment.

In a recent study, Limoli and colleagues studied rats exposed to cranial radiation. They followed up with their research two days later with human neural stem cell transplants. A significant amount of these stem cells survived and turned into brain cells. Cognitive function also greatly improved compared with the control rats. These findings may pave the way for human safety trials to be conducted within a few years.

SOURCES: Cancer Research, July 15, 2011