Regenerative medicine is making some waves these days with 3 new studies producing their results last week concerning hair replacement, vision improvement, and heart function improvement after a heart attack.
Further research shows that exercise is a factor in showing who might and might not get Alzheimer’s disease. Or does it?
Three Studies in Regenerative Medicine Show Promise for Hair Replacement, Retinal Improvement, and Improved Cardiac Function
We have Nature.com to thank for an article enlightening us on the results of 3 different regenerative medicine studies that came out last week. In each study, new cells were introduced into mice that were lacking in some way. We had naked mice getting hair, mice with a form of night blindness improving their vision and adult mice receiving improved cardiac function.
In the first study from the Tokyo University of Science, the researchers used both stem cells from normal mice with hair and from balding humans to stimulate hair follicles on naked mice. These are sure funny looking mice and the picture accompanying the article looks even funnier with the mouse having just a tuft of hair showing on top of its head.
It took 2 – 5 weeks for the hair to grow but it did act normally by connecting to the muscles and nerves under the skin. The restored hair acted and reacted just like hair should.
However, in order to minimize “epithelial cyst formation” the researchers introduced a nylon thread to serve as a guide for the cells and growth of hair. Those samples which used the nylon thread guide showed “eruption and growth of black hair shafts” at 94% which is pretty good. Those samples which didn’t use the nylon thread guide only showed hair growth at 38%.
Our findings suggest that the transplantation of a bioengineered hair follicle germ can restore natural hair function and re-establish the cooperation between the follicle and the surrounding recipient muscles and nerve fibers. Thus, the transplantation of bioengineered hair follicle germ is potentially applicable to the future surgical treatment of alopecia.
This study shows a lot of promise if they can increase the number of follicles. More research needed but this is very promising and the first such showing that they can “reconstitute hair follicles using human cells.”-
In the next study they used “precursor rod cells” transplanted into mice lacking congenital stationary night blindness to try to improve upon their vision. While only an estimated 10 – 15% of the transplanted rod cells took according to testing done, the mice did receive improved vision. The researchers are now looking further into macular degeneration models and using stem cells. Together, these results demonstrate the feasibility of photoreceptor transplantation as a therapeutic strategy for restoring vision after retinal degeneration.
The last study was using cardiac fibroblasts instead of stem cells to try to improve cardiac function. The hope was that the cardiac fibroblasts would turn into cadiomyocytes which are the muscle cells that are lost in a heart attack.
The team used a retrovirus to deliver three transcription factors that induced the reprogramming in adult mice, and improved their cardiac function.
Furthermore, they saw improvement in the scar tissue within the hearts of the mice:
In vivo delivery of GMT decreased infarct size and modestly attenuated cardiac dysfunction up to 3 months after coronary ligation. Delivery of the pro-angiogenic and fibroblast-activating peptide, thymosin (Beta) 4, along with GMT, resulted in further improvements in scar area and cardiac function.
Keep Moving to Fend off Alzheimer’s No Matter Your Age
In a press release about a new study published in Neurology, we learn that to fend off dreaded Alzheimer’s we need to keep on moving no matter our age. That moving does not have to be a specific exercise program. Even doing the daily chores can count. However, the more intense the exercise the better the results.
Using a group of people with an average age of 82, researchers followed them for 4 years giving annual tests measuring memory and thinking abilities. This study was different in that not only did the group report their physical and social activity to researchers, for 10 days they wore an actigraph. An actigraph monitors activity and was worn on the non-dominant arm.
Using the results from the actigraphs and the self-reports as well as test results, researchers determined that those in the bottom 10 percent of daily physical activity were more than twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease as people in the top 10 percent of daily activity.
Furthermore, intensity played a factor as well with those in the bottom 10% intensity wise being 3 times as likely to get Alzheimer’s as the top 10%.
I would be more impressed with this study if the people had worn the actigraphs daily for the whole span of the study. First off, 10 days is a short time period when study participants could show more activity than usual distorting the results. Secondly, the rest of the 4 years of the study simply relied on the self-reports of activity and the yearly testing. We know how we all try to make what we are doing look better.
But it sure isn’t going to hurt to get up and move more. Which reminds me – get up and move more.