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Researchers shed light on repair mechanism for severe corneal injuries

In cases of severe ocular trauma involving the cornea, wound healing occurs following intervention, but at the cost of opaque scar tissue formation and damaged vision. Recent research has shown that mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) — which can differentiate into a variety of cells, including bone, cartilage, muscle and fat cells — are capable of returning clarity to scarred corneas; however, the mechanisms by which this happens remained a mystery — until now. In a study published online today in Stem Cell Reports, researchers from Schepens Eye Research Institute of Massachusetts Eye and Ear have identified hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), secreted by MSCs, as the key factor responsible for promoting wound healing and reducing inflammation in preclinical models of corneal injury. Their findings suggest that HGF-based treatments may be effective in restoring vision in patients with severely scarred corneas.


Functional human tissue-engineered liver generated from stem, progenitor cells

A research team led by investigators at The Saban Research Institute of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles has generated functional human and mouse tissue-engineered liver from adult stem and progenitor cells. Tissue-engineered Liver (TELi) was found to contain normal structural components such as hepatocytes, bile ducts and blood vessels. The study has been published online in the journalStem Cells Translational Medicine.


Brain cells restored by stem cell therapy following stroke, neurological diseases

When a person has a stroke, blood flow to the brain is interrupted, causing brain cells to die within minutes due to lack of oxygen. In some cases, this can result in paralysis, speech and language problems, vision problems, and memory loss. But in a new study, researchers have shown that stem cell therapy increases nerve cell production in mice with brain damage due to stroke.


New method to grow and transplant muscle stem cells holds promise as muscular dystrophy therapy

Satellite cells are stem cells found in skeletal muscles. While transplantation of such muscle stem cells can be a potent therapy for degenerative muscle diseases such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy, these cells tend to lose their transplantation efficiency when cultured in vitro. In the study, published in the current issue of the Journal of Neuromuscular Diseases, researchers have found that treating these stem cells with leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) effectively maintains the undifferentiated state of the satellite cells and enhances their transplantation efficiency.


Double stem cell transplant improves outcome for children with deadly form of cancer

Results of a recent clinical trial show that adding a second autologous stem cell transplant (which uses the patient’s own stem cells) to standard therapy improves outcomes for children with neuroblastoma. Neuroblastoma is a rare cancer that most commonly affects children age 5 or younger. Historically, less than half of children with high-risk neuroblastoma live five or more years after diagnosis.