Okayama University


Okayama University Medical Research Updates (OU-MRU) Vol.87

February 16, 2021

Source: Okayama University (JAPAN), Public Relations Division
For immediate release: 16 February 2021
Okayama University research: Therapeutic potential of stem cells for treating neurodegenerative disease

(Okayama, 16 February) Researchers at Okayama University report in Scientific Reports that a particular type of stem cell has therapeutic benefits for patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a fatal neurodegenerative disease that affects bodily motion and for which there is no cure yet.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a neurodegenerative disease resulting in the gradual loss of motor nerve cells (neurons) that control certain muscles, ultimately leading to fatal paralysis. As there is no cure for the disease, therapeutic strategies are highly needed. Now, Professor ABE Koji and Associate professor YAMASHITA Toru from Okayama University and colleagues have investigated the potential of a particular kind of stem cells (‘Muse cells’), which can recognize damaged sites in the human body, for treating ALS. Experiments in mice reveal promising potential therapeutic benefits for ALS patients.

Muse cells are a kind of stem cell occurring in the bone marrow, blood and connective tissues in the human body. They can identify damaged tissue, and when injected, they can locate a damaged site — this is possible because Muse cells produce molecules that recognize substances created in damaged or apoptotic (dying) cells. Muse cells can not only locate the damage but also contribute to tissue repair, by transforming (differentiating) into healthy replacement cells. Inspired by this property, Abe and colleagues studied whether there is therapeutic potential in releasing Muse cells in ALS patients.

First, the researchers determined the best route for administering Muse cells. They compared the results for intravenous (into veins) and intrathecal (into the spinal canal) injections in mice. Intravenous injection gave the best results, with Muse cells appearing in different relevant body areas.

The scientists subsequently looked at the effect of intravenous administration of Muse cells into ALS mice. They established that the cells migrated to the spinal cord (a key part of the central nervous system). The Muse cells did not differentiate into neurons, but mainly into so-called astroglial cells. There are beneficial aspects associated with the latter, including stimulating the growth of nervous tissue and modulating inflammatory responses. The researchers’ findings also suggested that the injection of Muse cells prevented the shrinking of muscle cells (amyotrophy) in ALS mice.

The study of Abe and colleagues represents a valuable result in the context of establishing a potential strategy for treating ALS. In the words of the scientists: “[Our] study successfully achieved … the systematic administration of Muse cells that showed a significant clinical benefit for the ALS mice model” and “Muse cells can be a promising cell resource for the treatment of ALS patients.”

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis:
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a neurodegenerative disease affecting the part of the nervous system that governs bodily motion. It is characterized by a progressive loss of nerve cells controlling voluntary muscles. Symptoms at the early stage of ALS include stiff muscles, weakness in a limb and slurred speech. Due to the continued loss of motor neurons, control of the muscles needed for moving, speaking, eating and breathing is eventually lost, leading to paralysis and respiratory failure. There is no cure for this fatal disease. Existing treatments are aimed at improving the symptoms. Now, Professor ABE Koji and Associate professor YAMASHITA Toru from Okayama University and colleagues have started to investigate the therapeutic potential of Muse cells, which can recognize and cure damaged sites in the human body, for treating ALS. Experiments in mice have shown promising results.

Multi-lineage differentiating stress enduring cells: Multi-lineage differentiating stress enduring cells (‘Muse cells’) are a kind of pluripotent stem cell — that is, a cell that can differentiate into several ‘standard’ cell types encountered in the human body. They occur in the connective tissues of organs, bone marrow and blood. Muse cells were discovered in 2010 by the research group of Dr.Mari Dezawa. Muse cells can repair tissue in vivo, a property that has been investigated in mouse models with pathologies including muscle degeneration, stroke and spinal cord injury. Now, Abe and colleagues have performed a study addressing the potential of Muse cells for identifying and repairing damaged neurons in the context of ALS.

Toru Yamashita, Yoshihiro Kushida, Shohei Wakao, Koh Tadokoro, Emi Nomura, Yoshio Omote, Mami Takemoto, Nozomi Hishikawa, Yasuyuki Ohta, Mari Dezawa and Koji Abe. Therapeutic benefit of Muse cells in a mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Scientific Reports 10, 17102 (2020).
DOI : 10.1038/s41598-020-74216-4

Reference (Okayama Univ. e-Bulletin): Professor ABE’s team
OU-MRU Vol.74:Rising from the ashes—dead brain cells can be regenerated after traumatic injury
OU-MRU Vol.79:Novel blood-based markers to detect Alzheimer’s disease

Correspondence to
Professor ABE Koji, M.D., Ph.D.
Department of Neurology, Graduate School of Medicine, Dentistry and Pharmaceutical
Sciences, Okayama University, 2-5-1 Shikata-cho, Kita-ku, Okayama 700-8558, Japan
E-mail: abekabek(a)cc.okayama-u.ac.jp
For inquiries, please contact us by replacing (a) with the @ mark.

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Okayama University Medical Research Updates (OU-MRU)
The whole volume : OU-MRU (1- )
Vol.1:Innovative non-invasive ‘liquid biopsy’ method to capture circulating tumor cells from blood samples for genetic testing
Vol.2:Ensuring a cool recovery from cardiac arrest
Vol.3:Organ regeneration research leaps forward
Vol.4:Cardiac mechanosensitive integrator
Vol.5:Cell injections get to the heart of congenital defects
Vol.6:Fourth key molecule identified in bone development
Vol.7:Anticancer virus solution provides an alternative to surgery
Vol.8:Light-responsive dye stimulates sight in genetically blind patients
Vol.9:Diabetes drug helps towards immunity against cancer
Vol.10:Enzyme-inhibitors treat drug-resistant epilepsy
Vol.11:Compound-protein combination shows promise for arthritis treatment
Vol.12:Molecular features of the circadian clock system in fruit flies
Vol.13:Peptide directs artificial tissue growth
Vol.14:Simplified boron compound may treat brain tumours
Vol.15:Metamaterial absorbers for infrared inspection technologies
Vol.16:Epigenetics research traces how crickets restore lost limbs
Vol.17:Cell research shows pathway for suppressing hepatitis B virus
Vol.18:Therapeutic protein targets liver disease
Vol.19:Study links signalling protein to osteoarthritis
Vol.20:Lack of enzyme promotes fatty liver disease in thin patients
Vol.21:Combined gene transduction and light therapy targets gastric cancer
Vol.22:Medical supportive device for hemodialysis catheter puncture
Vol.23:Development of low cost oral inactivated vaccines for dysentery
Vol.24:Sticky molecules to tackle obesity and diabetes
Vol.25:Self-administered aroma foot massage may reduce symptoms of anxiety
Vol.26:Protein for preventing heart failure
Vol.27:Keeping cells in shape to fight sepsis
Vol.28:Viral-based therapy for bone cancer
Vol.29:Photoreactive compound allows protein synthesis control with light
Vol.30:Cancer stem cells’ role in tumor growth revealed
Vol.31:Prevention of RNA virus replication
Vol.32:Enzyme target for slowing bladder cancer invasion
Vol.33:Attacking tumors from the inside
Vol.34:Novel mouse model for studying pancreatic cancer
Vol.35:Potential cause of Lafora disease revealed
Vol.36:Overloading of protein localization triggers cellular defects
Vol.37:Protein dosage compensation mechanism unravelled
Vol.38:Bioengineered tooth restoration in a large mammal
Vol.39:Successful test of retinal prosthesis implanted in rats
Vol.40:Antibodies prolong seizure latency in epileptic mice
Vol.41:Inorganic biomaterials for soft-tissue adhesion
Vol.42:Potential drug for treating chronic pain with few side effects
Vol.43:Potential origin of cancer-associated cells revealed
Vol.44:Protection from plant extracts
Vol.45:Link between biological-clock disturbance and brain dysfunction uncovered
Vol.46:New method for suppressing lung cancer oncogene
Vol.47:Candidate genes for eye misalignment identified
Vol.48:Nanotechnology-based approach to cancer virotherapy
Vol.49:Cell membrane as material for bone formation
Vol.50:Iron removal as a potential cancer therapy
Vol.51:Potential of 3D nanoenvironments for experimental cancer
Vol.52:A protein found on the surface of cells plays an integral role in tumor growth and sustenance
Vol.53:Successful implantation and testing of retinal prosthesis in monkey eyes with retinal degeneration
Vol.54:Measuring ion concentration in solutions for clinical and environmental research
Vol.55:Diabetic kidney disease: new biomarkers improve the prediction of the renal prognosis
Vol.56:New device for assisting accurate hemodialysis catheter placement
Vol.57:Possible link between excess chewing muscle activity and dental disease
Vol.58:Insights into mechanisms governing the resistance to the anti-cancer medication cetuximab
Vol.59:Role of commensal flora in periodontal immune response investigated
Vol.60:Role of commensal microbiota in bone remodeling
Vol.61:Mechanical stress affects normal bone development
Vol.62:3D tissue model offers insights into treating pancreatic cancer
Vol.63:Promising biomarker for vascular disease relapse revealed
Vol.64:Inflammation in the brain enhances the side-effects of hypnotic medication
Vol.65:Game changer: How do bacteria play Tag ?
Vol.66:Is too much protein a bad thing?
Vol.67:Technology to rapidly detect cancer markers for cancer diagnosis
Vol.68:Improving the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer
Vol.69:Early gastric cancer endoscopic diagnosis system using artificial intelligence
Vol.70:Prosthetics for Retinal Stimulation
Vol.71:The nervous system can contribute to breast cancer progression
Vol.72:Synthetic compound provides fast screening for potential drugs
Vol.73:Primary intraocular lymphoma does not always spread to the central nervous system
Vol.74:Rising from the ashes—dead brain cells can be regenerated after traumatic injury
Vol.75:More than just daily supplements — herbal medicines can treat stomach disorders
Vol.76:The molecular pathogenesis of muscular dystrophy-associated cardiomyopathy
Vol.77:Green leafy vegetables contain a compound which can fight cancer cells
Vol.78:Disrupting blood supply to tumors as a new strategy to treat oral cancer
Vol.79:Novel blood-based markers to detect Alzheimer’s disease
Vol.80:A novel 3D cell culture model sheds light on the mechanisms driving fibrosis in pancreatic cancer
Vol.81:Innovative method for determining carcinogenicity of chemicals using iPS cells
Vol.82:Making memories — the workings of a neuron revealed
Vol.83:Skipping a beat — a novel method to study heart attacks
Vol.84:Friend to Foe—When Harmless Bacteria Turn Toxic
Vol.85:Promising imaging method for the early detection of dental caries
Vol.86:Plates and belts — a toolkit to prevent accidental falls during invasive vascular proceduresa