October 02, 2011
Stem Cells For Myelin Made In Quantity

Myelin is insulation around nerves and is essential for the conduction of impulses along nerves. The ability to grow pure populations of cells that make myelin brings us closer to effective treatments for multiple sclerosis and other diseases characterized by the loss of myelin.

Scientists at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine found a way to rapidly produce pure populations of cells that grow into the protective myelin coating on nerves in mice. Their process opens a door to research and potential treatments for multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and other demyelinating diseases afflicting millions of people worldwide.

The findings will be published in the online issue of Nature Methods, Sunday, Sept. 25, at 1 p.m. EST.

"The mouse cells that we utilized, which are pluripotent epiblast stem cells, can make any cell type in body," Paul Tesar, an assistant professor of genetics at Case Western Reserve and senior author of the study, explained. "So our goal was to devise precise methods to specifically turn them into pure populations of myelinating cells, called oligodendrocyte progenitor cells, or OPCs."

These results matter to us all. Why? We all suffer from a demyelinating disease called aging. One of the reason older folks have harder times with memory recall, coordination, and other mental tasks is that myelin deteriorates with age. The ability to restore myelin is an essential rejuvenation therapy. Therefore the pursuit of effective treatments for MS and other demyelinating diseases will yield useful therapies for brain rejuvenation.

Just about any therapy aimed at repairing damage caused by a specific disease will also be useful for rejuvenation. Aging causes very diffuse damage to all the tissues in the body. When enough of that damage accumulates in a single organ or structural element disease emanating from a specific location emerges. But the localized disease is really just part of a bigger pattern of damage accumulation. So therapies aimed at repair of specific locations in the body will have a great deal of overlap with therapies aimed at full body rejuvenation.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2011 October 02 10:41 PM  Biotech Stem Cells

xd said at October 3, 2011 7:57 AM:

Not even about extending lifespan:

If I could *cut* my lifespan by 5 years but increase the quality for the remainder I'd do it.

Elaine said at October 4, 2011 1:55 PM:

Epiblast cells are those taken from embryos, right? So given the zero treatments derived from embryonic cells and the 75 treatments developed from adult stem cells, why not focus on using adult cells to create OCPs? Moral and practical issues (such as tumors and tissue rejection) abound with the former and are absent with the latter.

Also, I think that this matters enough to indicate explicitly that this is an adult or embryonic stem cell treatment. One does not equal the other.

PacRim Jim said at October 4, 2011 7:31 PM:

A question: Biotech research is proceeding in dozens of fields, but is anyone thinking of integrating all this information?
The human body in general and the brain in particular are fantastically complex, so it seems fruitless to attack disease and aging in a tactical manner, as it seems we are doing now.

Anga2010 said at October 5, 2011 4:51 PM:

As I've often said, "I don't have a disease 'like' Multiple Sclerosis and also, I'm not a mouse."

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