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Neurological Conditions

Neurological disorders are all types of diseases related to the brain, the spine and the nerves that connect them. Common neurological conditions include Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injuries, stroke, and traumatic brain injury.

Stem cell research has shown great potential in treating these common neurological disorders. Cells extracted from adipose tissue could reduce the deterioration of nerve cells, help restore cell functions, and contribute to anti-inflammatory processes that slow down common symptoms across various conditions.

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Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s Disease is one of the most common and prevalent neurodegenerative diseases in the world. It is characterized by the loss and degeneration of the neurons involved in the secretion of dopamine. Abnormal dopamine levels can impair numerous neurological functions, including delays in movement, reaction and coordination.

Research has shown that Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) can help with some of the most common symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. One long term clinical study found that stem cell transplantation led to improvements in common symptoms including facial expression, gait and freezing episodes, and research has also shown improvements in other common behaviors such as tremor and motility.

These results reflect the qualities of MSCs identified by stem cell researchers. The cells have the anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties, meaning that they can mitigate to sites of injury to help stimulate the body to heal and restore itself. What this means in the case of Parkinson’s is that transplanted MSCs can support the activation of neurogenesis, the protection and regeneration of damaged dopaminergic neurons, and the integration of new neurons into a functional network.

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Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries could change spinal function either permanently or temporarily. Changes may translate to a loss of muscle function and sensation, as well as autonomic dysfunctions which could cause serious disability.

Studies have shown that Mesenchymal Stem Cells can help repair the spinal cord after serious injury. Transplanting MSCs into the area of injury could lead to self-renewal due to the regenerative nature of these stem cells.

MSCs can give rise to neural-like cells and differentiate across different cell lineages. They can create a paracrine effect in neurotrophic molecules, as well inhibit H2O2-mediated apoptosis that occurs during spinal cord injury. What this means is that they can help rescue impaired neural function after spinal cord injury, promote neural regeneration, replace lost neural cells, and overall improve cell’s ability to survive.

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Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

Also known as Lou Gherig’s disease, ALS is a neurodegenerative disease that affects motor neuron function in the primary motor cortex, the brainstem and the spinal cord. In ALS, these areas of the brain are affected by a rapid degeneration or death of nerve (neural) cells, a process which ultimately leads to an overall loss in the ability to control muscle action. Currently, there is no effective therapy for ALS as its pathogenic properties remain unknown. However, recent studies have indicated that Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), which are found in various body tissues, can be used to treat degeneration for ALS patients.

These mesenchymal stem cells can be found in bone marrow and adipose (fat) tissue, and can potentially differentiate between different cell types. In the case of ALS, recent studies have found that MSCs can contribute to the upregulation of T lymphocytes, which are responsible for the modulation of the immune system. Cell transplantation, studies have shown, stimulate the production of these T regulatory stem cells as well as anti-inflammatory cytokines, both of which can slow down the progression of ALS. Other studies have demonstrated that MSCs can also help modulate motor neuron response to cell death and inflammation, as well as regulating toxic processes so that there is an overall decrease in cell death.

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Stroke

A stroke occurs when there is a sudden interruption in brain flow. The most common of these is an ischemic stroke, which is the result of an obstruction within a blood vessel that is supplying oxygen to the brain.

Research has shown that mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) may aid recovery in stroke sufferers. The stem cells could increase the levels of brain protection after the stroke, as well as improve overall neurological functions. Because of the naturally anti-inflammatory and regenerative qualities of these stem cells, MSCs have the potential of reducing cell death, promoting cellular proliferation, and normalizing ischemia-induced changes that occurred after stroke. MSCs may also stimulate the secretion of cytokines, and growth and trophic factors, all of which are all active mechanisms that play an essential role in neurological functions.

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Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one of the major causes of death and disability around the world. As the name suggests, it occurs after a violent blow or jolt to the head or the body, whereby the impact is strong enough to create a mechanical force that ultimately impairs normal brain function.

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) derived from various tissues can produce growth and trophic factors, which are essential in neural development and maintenance, both in vitro (in a lab culture) and in vivo (inside a living being). For TBI patients with damaged brain cells, MSCs have facilitated the production of these factors so that a natural activation of internal restorative mechanisms within the injured brain can occur. MSCs have also shown the ability to restore cerebral blood flow by inducing the formation of new blood vessels.

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