August 20, 2009

Stem cells may treat neurodegeneration

Israeli scientists say they have shown the viability of using bone marrow stem cells to treat such neurodegenerative diseases as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

Tel Aviv University researcher Yoram Cohen said he has proven the viability of the innovative stem cells, called mesenchymal stem cells, using in-vivo magnetic resonance imaging. Cohen said he tracked the stem cells progress within the brain, and initial studies indicate they can identify unhealthy or damaged tissues, migrate to them and potentially repair or halt cell degeneration.

By monitoring the motion of these cells, you get information about how viable they are, and how they can benefit the tissue, he said. We have been able to prove that these stem cells travel within the brain, and only travel where they are needed. They read the chemical signaling of the tissue, which indicate areas of stress. And then they go and try to repair the situation.

His research is detailed in the journal Stem Cells.