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Adult stem cells aid recovery in animal model of cerebral palsy

placing some cells destroyed by the original injury, while others helped injured cells recover.

"Recovery might be even more important in baby brains than forming new cells," Dr. Cesario V. Borlongan, neuroscientist at MCG and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Augusta, says of newborn brains that recover more readily than adult brains. Dr. Borlongan, a co-author on the abstract, is exploring stem cell therapy's potential for aiding stroke recovery, including the use of clinical-grade human adult cells provided by Athersys in a stroke animal model. About 80 percent of strokes are caused by clots that cause ischemic brain injury similar to that of cerebral palsy.

The MCG researchers have evidence that the healing benefit of stem cells comes from nourishing factors they secrete. The cells seem attracted by chemokines, growth factors that rally to an injury site, Dr. Carroll says. Next steps include looking at longer-term recovery and at whether surviving stem cells actually function as brain cells, networking with other cells by forming points of communication called synapses.

Perhaps most importantly, they also will look at whether stem cells produce similar results when they are given intravenously rather than injected directly into the injury site, Dr. Carroll says. "If the ideal way of doing it scientifically doesn't work, why move on from here?" he says. "Now that we know it does work, we are going to look at different methods of injection to try and find the one that is the easiest. We think the chemokines, at least in part, attract the cells, so we hope it will work even when given through the bloodstream."

He notes that the therapy likely will need to be done soon after injury. Whether this therapy could help the some 500,000 people in the United States living with cerebral palsy still must be explored, he says.

He and Dr. Borlongan note much work needs doing before their findings might move to clinical trials.
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Contact: Toni Baker
tbaker@mcg.edu
706-721-4421
Medical College of Georgia
30-Sep-2005


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