The Future of Brain Repair: A Realist’s Guide to Stem Cell Therapy (The MIT Press)

A scientist assesses the potential of stem cell therapies for treating such brain disorders as stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease.

Stem cell therapies are the subject of enormous hype, endowed by the media with almost magical qualities and imagined by the public to bring about miracle cures. Stem cells have the potential to generate new cells of different types, and have been shown to do so in certain cases. Could stem cell transplants repair the damaged brain? In this book, neurobiologist Jack Price assesses the potential of stem cell therapies to treat such brain disorders as stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and spinal cord injuries.

Certainly brain disorders are in need of effective treatments. These disorders don’t just kill, they disable, and conventional drug therapies have not had much success in treating them. Price explains that repairing the human brain is difficult, largely because of its structural, functional, and developmental complexity. He examines the self-repairing capacity of blood and gut cells―and the lack of such capacity in the brain; describes the limitations of early brain stem cell therapies for neurodegenerative disorders; and discusses current clinical trials that may lead to the first licensed stem cell therapies for stroke, Parkinson’s and macular degeneration. And he describes the real promise of pluripotential stem cells, which can make all the cell types that constitute the body.

New technologies, Price reports, challenge the very notion of cell transplantation, instead seeking to convince the brain itself to manufacture the new cells it needs. Could this be the true future of brain repair?

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Principles of Stem Cell Biology and Cancer: Future Applications and Therapeutics

Principles of Stem Cell Biology and Cancer: Future Applications and Therapeutics Tarik Regad, The John van Geest Cancer Research Centre, Nottingham Trent University, UK, Thomas J. Sayers, Centre for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, Frederick, USA and Robert Rees The John van Geest Cancer Research Centre, Nottingham Trent University, UK The field of cancer stem cells is expanding rapidly, with many groups focusing on isolating and identifying cancer stem cell populations. Although some progress has been made developing efficient cancer therapies, targeting cancer stem cells remains one of the important challenges facing the growing stem cell research community. Principles of Stem Cell Biology and Cancer brings together original contributions from international experts in the field to present the very latest information linking stem cell biology and cancer. Divided into two parts, the book begins with a detailed introduction to stem cell biology with a focus on the characterization of these cells, progress that has been made in their identification, as well as future therapeutic applications of stem cells. The second part focuses on cancer stem cells and their role in cancer development, progression and chemo-resistance. This section of the book includes an overview of recent progress concerning therapies targeting cancer stem cells. Features: An authoritative introduction to the link between stem cell biology and cancer. Includes contributions from leading international experts in the field. Well-illustrated with full colour figures throughout. This book will prove an invaluable resource for basic and applied researchers and clinicians working on the development of new cancer treatments and therapies, providing a timely publication of high quality reviews outlining the current progress and exciting future possibilities for stem cell research.

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Stem Cells: Scientific Progress and Future Research Directions

In February 2001 the Secretary of Health and Human Services requested that the National Institutes of Health prepare a summary report on the state of the science on stem cells. This report was developed in response to his request. It provides the current information about the biology of stem cells derived from all sources—embryo, fetal tissue, and adult. Since 1998, when human pluripotent stem cells were first isolated, research on stem cells has received much public attention, both because of its extraordinary promise and because of relevant legal and ethical issues. Underlying this recent public scrutiny is decades of painstaking work by scientists in many fields, who have been deciphering some of the most fundamental questions about life with the goal of improving health. In the last several decades, investments in basic research have yielded extensive knowledge about the many and complex processes involved in the development of an organism, including the control of cellular development. But many questions remain. How does a single cell—the fertilized egg—give rise to a complex, multi-cellular organism? The question represents a fundamental challenge in developmental biology. Researchers are now seeking to understand in greater detail the genetic factors that regulate cell differentiation in early development. Put simply, stem cells are self-renewing, unspecialized cells that can give rise to multiple types all of specialized cells of the body. The process by which dividing, unspecialized cells are equipped to perform specific functions—muscle contraction or nerve cell communication, for example—is called differentiation, and is fundamental to the development of the mature organism. It is now known that stem cells, in various forms, can be obtained from the embryo, the fetus, and the adult. The report is a review of the state of the science of stem cell research as of June 17, 2001. Included in this report is subject matter addressing stem cells from adult, fetal tissue, and embryonic sources. Because so much of the progress made to date was dependent on animal models, a significant emphasis is placed on understandings gained from mouse models of development and mouse stem cell research. The report also devotes substantial attention to scientific publications on the characterization of specialized cells developed from embryonic stem cells and the plasticity of adult stem cells. Both scientific and lay publications use a variety of terms to describe stem cells and their properties. For this reason, this report adopts a lexicon of terms and it is used consistently throughout. In several places in the report, discovery timelines are provided. The various sources of stem cells are described, as are the techniques used to isolate and develop them. A comprehensive listing of various stem cell isolation and characterizations is also included. In order to ensure the reader is provided information both about the basic biology of stem cells, and their therapeutic potential, the report contains several chapters focused on particular diseases which might benefit from stem cell research. These chapters on the use of hematopoietic stem cells, followed by focus features on specific nervous system diseases, diabetes, heart disease, and autoimmune diseases serve merely as examples of the many applications of stem cells that are being pursued. Also included are features that review aspects of stem cells as therapeutic delivery tools for gene therapy and, importantly, the safety considerations for developing stem cell-based therapies.

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