Stem Cell Report – Fall 2001

Date: 12/02/2001

Adult Stem Cells Can “Be Cultured and Expand Indefinitely”

Confirming numerous previous reports, a new report in the journal Blood shows that human adult bone marrow stem cells can be grown in culture for extended periods of time and still retain the ability to differentiate into multiple cell types. Even after extensive time in culture, the cells maintained their ability to grow as well as their plasticity (ability to form different cell types). The results provide further evidence that sufficient numbers of adult stem cells can be generated for clinical treatments.1

“Adult Stem Cells Offer Hope Without Hype”

“Since the discovery of their unique restorative properties, stem cells have been touted as miracle makers…But are they up to the challenge? And is there a source for them other than embryonic tissue and all the ethical baggage it carries? Dennis Steindler is staking his career on it. Steindler and his colleagues at the University of Florida are pioneers in the discovery and use of adult brain cells to achieve many of the same results as their more controversial cousins. He is optimistic that, like stem cells taken from embryos, adult stem cells can be coaxed into supplying the right material for the job at hand, whether it’s repairing injured brains or spinal cords or providing healthy cells to replace diseased ones. ‘These adult tissues don’t appear to be as restricted as we once thought they were,’ says Steindler, a professor of neuroscience and neurosurgery at UF’s College of Medicine who also is affiliated with UF’s McKnight Bain Institute and the UF’s Shands Cancer Center. ‘In some ways, they may not have the same potential as embryonic cells, but once we figure out their molecular genetics, we should be able to coax them into becoming almost anything we want them to be,’ he adds. Douglas K. Anderson, chair of UF’s Department of Neuroscience and a key player in UF’s efforts to understand the biological response to spinal cord injury, says of Steindler’s team: ‘What makes them so unique is their focus on adult tissues. They can take stem cells from cadavers, obviating the need for having to deal with the controversies associated with embryonic tissue. They’ve also shown that they can get stem cells by “dedifferentiating” them, a way of essentially turning old cells young again.'”2

Successful Repair of Heart Damage Using Adult Stem Cells

Doctors in Germany report the successful use of a patient’s own adult stem cells from bone marrow to regenerate tissue damaged after a heart attack. They injected the man’s own bone marrow stem cells into his damaged heart muscle. Ten weeks later, the damaged area of heart tissue had been reduced, replaced by new cells, and heart function had increased by 20-30 %. The authors conclude that “transplantation of human autologous adult stem cells is possible under clinical conditions and that it can lead to regeneration of the myocardial scar after… infarction.” They also point out that the therapeutic benefits can be ascribed to the adult stem cells. They plan to perform the same operation on 20 more patients in the coming months. The use of the patient’s own adult stem cells from bone marrow or muscle to treat damage from heart attack is also in clinical trials in France and the U.S. (Reuters Health, July 23, 2001).3

Japanese Scientists use Neural Stem Cells to Decrease Parkinson’s Symptoms

An Okayama University research team has succeeded in decreasing symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in mice. The team used neural stem cells to demonstrate the ability to increase the number of dopamine-producing cells. By combining substances that increase numbers of cells and adding them to the stem cells, they increased the number of dopaminergic neurons significantly. After injecting the substances directly into the brains of mice suffering from Parkinson’s disease, symptoms of the disease were reduced. The research results were released at an academic meeting of the Japan Neurological Society on Oct. 24 in Okayama.4

Human Adult Bone Marrow Stem Cells Can Form Kidney Tissue

Researchers in Great Britain have found that human adult bone marrow stem cells can form kidney tissue. The work, published in the Journal of Pathology, highlights another possibility for use of adult stem cells to treat human disease. “In people whose kidneys are failing, we might be able to generate more functional kidney cells. That is something that has not been known before,” said Dr. Richard Poulsom, lead scientist on the report.5

Treatment of Multiple Sclerosis Using the Patient’s Own Cells

Researchers have developed a combined therapy using a patient’s own stem cells for treatment of severe cases of multiple sclerosis. Treatment decreased tissue damage in the patients, and had the capacity to completely suppress further tissue damage, an effect that appears to be sustained with time.6

Umbilical Cord Blood Effective At Treating Adult Blood Disorders

A new report shows that umbilical cord blood can provide effective treatment of various blood disorders in adults.

  1. M. Reyes et al., “Purification and ex vivo expansion of postnatal human marrow mesodermal progenitor cells,” Blood 98, 2615-2625, Nov. 1, 2001; D.S. Krause, “Multipotent human cells expand indefinitely,” Blood 98, 2595; Nov. 1, 2001. For sample previous references, c.f. G. Bhardwaj, et al., “Sonic hedgehog induces the proliferation of primitive human hematopoietic cells via BMP regulation,” Nature Immunology. 2, 172-180; Feb. 2001; G.L. Gilmore et al., “Ex vivo expansion of human umbilical cord blood and peripheral blood CD34(+) hematopoietic stem cells,” Exp. Hematol. 28, 1297-1305; Nov. 1, 2000; D. Colter et al., “Rapid Expansion of recycling stem cells in cultures of plastic-adherent cells from human bone marrow,” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USAM 97, 3213-3218; March 28, 2000.
  2. Victoria White, “Brain Marrow: Adult Stem Cells Offer Hope Without Hype,” Explore: Research at the University of Florida, University of Florida, Fall, 2001.
  3. B.E. Strauer et al., “Myocardial regeneration after intracoronary transplantation of human autologous stem cells following acute myocardial infarction,” Dtsch Med Wochenschr 126, 932-938; Aug. 24, 2001
  4. “Team finds Parkinson’s treatment for mice,” The Daily Yomiuri (Tokyo); October 26, 2001, Pg. 3.
  5. R. Poulsom et al., “Bone marrow contributes to renal parenchymal turnover and regeneration,” The Journal of Pathology 195, 229-235; Sept. 2001 (published online July 25, 2001; DOI:
  6. G.L. Mancardi et al., “Autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation suppresses Gd-enhanced MRI activity in MS,” Neurology 57, 62-68; July 10, 2001.