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Understanding the Nuance of Stem Cells

Understanding the Nuances of Stem Cells

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Stem cell transplantation, because when you put the cells in the brain you can't take them out--it's irreversible-- comes with its own set of risks. So if we could understand how these cells are promoting recovery-- and that takes stem cell research to do that-- if we could understand better how the cells are promoting functional recovery and if we could understand the mechanisms and the factors, then we could possibly use that knowledge to develop better therapeutic interventions that would have less risk associated with them. Or, potentially looking at combination therapies down the road where a drug therapy might be combined with a stem cell therapy. And when I say, "at that point a stem cell therapy," I'm thinking of stem cells possibly from the patient themselves. So bone marrow stem cells can be derived from human TBI patients and cultured and put back into those patients as soon as 24 hours after they've been taken out. So if you're using stem cells from your own body, you don't have to typically worry about rejection down the road, and it reduces the risks.

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Stem cell transplantion is irreversible, so more research is needed to reveal how stem cells actually promote functional recovery in the brain.


Produced by Brian King, Ashley Gilleland, and Noel Gunther, BrainLine.

Deborah Shear, PhD Deborah Shear, PhD is the section chief for the in vivo Neuroprotection Labs, Brain Trauma Neuroprotection & Neurorestoration Branch; Center of Excellence for Psychiatry & Neuroscience at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) in Silver Spring, MD.

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