Friday, July 03, 2009

Hope for the Aging Brain

An intriguing finding from the University of South Florida offers new hope for rejuvenating aged and amyloid-clogged brains.
GCSF is a blood stem cell growth factor or hormone routinely administered to cancer patients whose blood stem cells and white blood cells have been depleted following chemotherapy or radiation. GCSF stimulates the bone marrow to produce more white blood cells needed to fight infection. It is also used to boost the numbers of stem cells circulating in the blood of donors before the cells are harvested for bone marrow transplants. Advanced clinical trials are now investigating the effectiveness of GCSF to treat stroke, and the compound was safe and well tolerated in early clinical studies of ischemic stroke patients.

....The researchers showed that injections under the skin of filgrastim (Neupogen®) — one of three commercially available GCSF compounds — mobilized blood stem cells in the bone marrow and neural stem cells within the brain and both of these actions led to improved memory and learning behavior in the Alzheimer’s mice. “The beauty in this less invasive approach is that it obviates the need for neurosurgery to transplant stem cells into the brain,” Dr. Sanchez-Ramos said.

Based on the promising findings in mice, the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation is funding a pilot clinical trial at USF’s Byrd Alzheimer’s Center. The randomized, controlled trial, led by Dr. Sanchez-Ramos and Dr. Ashok Raj, will test the safety and effectiveness of filgrastim in 12 patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease _Biosingularity
As noted, the reversal of Alzheimer's brain damage occurred in research mice -- a mouse "Alzheimer's model" involving 52 aged study mice. If the trial involving 12 human patients shows promise, expect several larger human studies.

In my opinion, Alzheimer's Disease is every bit the crisis that AIDS represents, and the search for therapies for Alzheimer's should be given at least as much funding and regulatory impetus as the research effort into HIV and AIDS has been given. Unfortunately, President Obama and his administration are sending signals that advanced medical care for the aged will be given an extremely low priority under Obamacare.

Another stem cell growth factor -- EGFL7 -- may play a large role in therapies for a wide array of conditions involving brain degeneration and damage.
The findings of Schmidt and Dikic offer a plethora of medical applications. Maturation of adult stem or precursor cells is significant for the development of multiple tissues, e.g. in the central nerve system or in the heart. Moreover, cancer stem cells have been described, which are important for the formation of tumors, especially in the human brain. EGFL7 might also be applied as a neuronal differentiation factor in ischemic insults or neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer or Parkinson predict both researchers. Future work will unravel in which diseases EGFL7 can unfold its therapeutic potential. _Biosingularity
We are likely to find dozens of growth factors and differentiation factors that will come into play in the reversal of degenerative, traumatic, and age-related diseases of the brain. It will take time, investment, and long hours of dedicated research by an army of bright and well-trained researchers with open minds.

It is also important to eat the right foods, and to get plenty of exercise. Thinking "young" can also keep the brain more vital. Seek out new experiences and adventures. Try new foods, travel within your means, renew old friendships and make new ones.

It is easy to tell the difference between people who have given up, and those who will be scrapping right up to the end. Try to be a scrapper.


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