Can inhaled stem cells fix your brain?

December 3, 2013 by John Hewitt, Medical Xpress report
Can inhaled stem cells fix your brain?
Intranasal Delivery. Credit:

(Medical Xpress)—In certain neurosurgical procedures, like fixing pituitary glands, surgeons can remove a tumor through the nose with minimal damage to surrounding tissue. It turns out, that passing things in the other direction—into the brain through an intranasal route—has many advantages too. Everything from drugs, proteins, and gene vectors, to stem cells, can now by administered in this way. The major question for today, is not so much what do these agents do, but where do they go once they are inside? StemGenex, a La Jolla-based company, has recently announced their new hopes for a treatment which could potentially address several neurological diseases. They are now offering a therapy for patients with multiple sclerosis in based on the intranasal delivery of mesenchymal stem cells.

The preferred medical term for act of snorting is insufflation. While insufflation is an obvious choice to deliver drugs to the sinuses or lungs, it is now appreciated that many bioactive agents can get much further than that. One major advantage of this method is the low barrier of entry through the mucous membranes into the bloodstream. Although some pro-drugs, like codeine, require absorption through the gut to pass to the liver where they can be metabolized into an active form, many other drugs are compromised by a digestive passage. What's more important though here for the , is that the normally-intact can by bypassed either by slipping around the perineural sheath cells, or getting endocytosed and retrogradely transported along either the olfactory nerves, or the trigeminal nerves.

While whole cells are not typically endocytosed into vesicles, there are less obvious ways that cells can get in, particularly in compromised or lesioned brains. In cultured cells, perhaps a lesioned brain by any standard, it has been clearly shown that readily fuse with microglia. These microglia then, in turn, go on to fuse with mature neurons. But definitively demonstrating that intranasally-delivered stem cells reach appropriate targets, and have restorative or therapeutic effect can be a little trickier. One study which looked at delivery of bone marrow-derived stromal (connective tissue) cells, in mice with a lesioned striatum thrown in for good measure, was able to detect an autofluorescence signal that was similar to the fluorescent protein label in the delivered cells—but a clear sign of the cells themselves was hard to establish.

Further studies are undoubtedly needed to definitively establish the fate of introduced to the brain by any method. For the treatment of tumors like glioblastoma multiforme, that which killed Ted Kennedy, intranasally-sourced stem cells may be used to provide a vehicle for the delivery of other agents, like TNF (Tumor Necrosis Factor). Some simpler treatments that have gotten recent attention include the even more-difficult-to-corroborate enhancement of brain function in autism through intranasal oxytocin.

Treatment of Parkinson's disease is another potential application. Animal models in which that presumably migrated into the brain, survived up to six months, and delivered dopamine to restore motor function have been reported previously. Some of these studies have been on the table a few years now though, and it is important to revisit them as other treatments and methods come along. As a final consideration, perhaps the most interesting offering to date has been a device for good old-fashioned intranasal neurophotobiostimulation. While this may sound fantastic, the designers may be on to something—if it can be used as the front end for the optogenetic treatments of the not so far future.

Explore further: Researchers use a type of stem cells from human adipose tissue to chase migrating cancer cells

More information: … MS/prweb11305257.htm

Related Stories

Researchers use a type of stem cells from human adipose tissue to chase migrating cancer cells

March 12, 2013
In laboratory studies, Johns Hopkins researchers say they have found that stem cells from a patient's own fat may have the potential to deliver new treatments directly into the brain after the surgical removal of a glioblastoma, ...

Therapy using stem cells, bone marrow cells, appears safe for patients with ischemic cardiomyopathy

November 18, 2013
Alan W. Heldman, M.D., of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, and colleagues conducted a study to examine the safety of transendocardial stem cell injection (TESI) with autologous mesenchymal stem cells and ...

Tracking nanodiamond-tagged stem cells

August 5, 2013
A method that is used to track the fate of a single stem cell within mouse lung tissue is reported in a study published online this week in Nature Nanotechnology. The method may offer insights into the factors that determine ...

Stem cells engineered to become targeted drug factories

October 4, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—A group of Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Harvard Stem Cell Institute researchers and collaborators at MIT and MGH have found a way to use stem cells as drug delivery vehicles.

There's life after radiation for brain cells

August 12, 2013
Scientists have long believed that healthy brain cells, once damaged by radiation designed to kill brain tumors, cannot regenerate. But new Johns Hopkins research in mice suggests that neural stem cells, the body's source ...

Recommended for you

Forces from fluid in the developing lung play an essential role in organ development

January 23, 2018
It is a marvel of nature: during gestation, multiple tissue types cooperate in building the elegantly functional structures of organs, from the brain's folds to the heart's multiple chambers. A recent study by Princeton researchers ...

More surprises about blood development—and a possible lead for making lymphocytes

January 22, 2018
Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) have long been regarded as the granddaddy of all blood cells. After we are born, these multipotent cells give rise to all our cell lineages: lymphoid, myeloid and erythroid cells. Hematologists ...

How metal scaffolds enhance the bone healing process

January 22, 2018
A new study shows how mechanically optimized constructs known as titanium-mesh scaffolds can optimize bone regeneration. The induction of bone regeneration is of importance when treating large bone defects. As demonstrated ...

Researchers illustrate how muscle growth inhibitor is activated, could aid in treating ALS

January 19, 2018
Researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine are part of an international team that has identified how the inactive or latent form of GDF8, a signaling protein also known as myostatin responsible for ...

Bioengineered soft microfibers improve T-cell production

January 18, 2018
T cells play a key role in the body's immune response against pathogens. As a new class of therapeutic approaches, T cells are being harnessed to fight cancer, promising more precise, longer-lasting mitigation than traditional, ...

Weight flux alters molecular profile, study finds

January 17, 2018
The human body undergoes dramatic changes during even short periods of weight gain and loss, according to a study led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1 / 5 (1) Dec 03, 2013
Pheromones and the luteinizing hormone for inducing proliferation of neural stem cells and neurogenesis http://www.freshp...8009.php

Perhaps natural genetic engineering via olfactory/pheromonal input should be considered, for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, since the molecular mechanisms appear to be conserved in vertebrates and invertebrates.
not rated yet Dec 03, 2013
so where all can Luteinizing hormone (LH) and human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) be manufactured?
Brain (hypothal), testes, ovaries,? anything from adrenals?
not rated yet Dec 04, 2013
Thanks for asking. Pulsatile secretion of GnRH modulates LH secretion and downstream effects on other hormones produced from the gonads and adrenals, which are typically linked to changes in behavior without addressing the origins of their secretion or the feedback mechanisms that control it. That's how brain imaging bastardized cause and effect in the context of oxytocin and its link to behavior.

Oxytocin automagically appears and is somehow involved in prosocial behavior with no connection to the social environment other than the one seen in brain imagery.

We know that rodents are primarily olfactory creatures however, so removing any aspect of how pheromones regulate their reproductive physiology and behavior makes it possible to report results from brain imaging in human studies that seem to be meaningfully interpreted, but in actuality are akin to the typical nonsense of evolutionary theorists who don't know anything about biology.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.