Research Provides New Clues about How Adult Stem Cells Work

By Hilary White

  WASHINGTON, DC. April 30, 2007 ( – A new study shows that not only do stem cells from the patient’s own body readily repair all sorts of damaged tissue, they stimulate the growth and differentiation of existing stem cells. Dr. Darwin J. Prockop, Director of Tulane University’s Center for Gene Therapy says his research suggests multiple strategies to treat diseases using adult stem cells.

  Injected stem cells taken from bone marrow transfer mitochondrial DNA to existing local cells whose own mitochondria are inactive and stimulates those cells to start working.
  While scientists and doctors are seeing increasing success with treatments using adult stem cells, the actual mechanism by which the cells are able to repair and even replace damaged tissue has remained largely a mystery.

  It has been shown that even small numbers of stem cells taken from a patient’s own body, often from bone marrow, have been used successfully to treat Parkinson’s disease, kidney and liver disease, diabetes and various forms of heart disease and cancer.

  Speaking at the American Association of Anatomists in Washington April 19, Prockop described experiments in which human stem cells were injected into diabetic mice. The cells traveled to and engrafted themselves into the pancreas. They increased the production of insulin and lowered the mice’s blood sugar.

  The cells also engrafted themselves onto the kidneys and repaired the damage normally associated with diabetes. Mitochondria provide the energy for a cell’s parts to function.

  Read related coverage:
  Success Stories with Adult Stem Cells Coming in Almost Too Fast to Track

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