Boston-based researchers make new development in stem cell research

Stem cell research is surrounded by loaded controversy over the bioethical issues that itposes.

What many peopledont understand is that there are two different types of stem cells currentlybeing used for research:embryonic and adult.Adult stem cell use isnot the causefordiscussion, allowingresearch to continue with the hopes of changing the treatment of disease.

Researchers worldwide, whohave alreadydeveloped varioustherapies to treat leukemia, alsohope to treat cancer, Parkinsons disease and spinal cord injuriesone day. Now, Boston-based researchers have made the next development in stem cellstudies, whichwill reap exciting benefitsfor a large population ofpatients suffering from inflammatory diseases.

A group of researchers from Brigham and Womens Hospital, theHarvard Stem Cell Institute, Massachusetts Institute of Technologyand Massachusetts General Hospital have uncovered a wayforstem cellstoact as a drug factory at thesite of inflammation in the body, according to a study published Oct. 4 on EurekAlert.

Oren Levy,the head researcher, said he isoptimistic about the discoverys potential to treat diseases such as myocardialinfarction, multiple sclerosisand even certain types of cancer.

Its important not to create false hope, but we do see a lot of progress to be made,Levy said.

What did they do? Levy,with the help ofcollaborators Jeffrey Karp,WeianZhao,MehmetFatihYanikand Charles Lin,began the researchas a proof-of-concept studyto determine whether it was even possible for their hypothesis to work in a localized region ofthe body.

Oren Levy said he and Boston researchers discovered a new way for stem cells to act as tiny drug factories at sites of inflammation in the body. This discovery may soon aid in the treatment of various diseases, including myocardial infarction, multiple sclerosis and certain types of cancer. PHOTO COURTESY OF OREN LEVY.

Modified strands of mRNA were inserted into connective tissue stem cells called mesenchymal stem cells(MSC), which are a type of adult stem cells. Upon mRNA insertion, the cells producedan anti-inflammatory moleculeknown as interleukin-10.

These modified human stem cells were then injected into the bloodstream of a mouse that was experiencing inflammation in the ear. The cells targeted the site of inflammation and released theanti-inflammatoryinterleukin-10 molecule, which was ableto reduce the swelling.

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Boston-based researchers make new development in stem cell research

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