New Way to Track Stem Cell Migration Could Advance Treatments for Brain Tumors and More

A new study in the current issue of STEM CELLS Translational Medicine shows how a team of scientists led by Rex Moats, Ph.D., and Karen Aboody, M.D., discovered a safe, effective way to track the migration and distribution of neural stem cells used in treating invasive brain tumors.

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...[this] study is important because it identifies an effective cell-tracking method that appears safe for clinical use.

Durham, NC (PRWEB) September 06, 2013

A new study in the current issue of STEM CELLS Translational Medicine shows how a team of scientists led by Rex Moats, Ph.D., and Karen Aboody, M.D., discovered a safe, effective way to track the migration and distribution of neural stem cells used in treating invasive brain tumors. Their method, which involves “pre-loading” the cells before transplantation with ultra-small, super paramagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles that can then be detected via magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), has been approved for clinical trials in humans and has the potential to greatly accelerate the search for new treatments for deadly brain tumors and other diseases.

Numerous stem cell-based therapies are currently under investigation, including an FDA-approved clinical trial focused on employing neural stem cells (NSCs) in delivering drugs targeting invasive brain tumors. “The ability to monitor the time course, migration and distribution of stem cells following transplantation into these patients would provide critical information for optimizing treatment regimens,” Dr. Moats said. “However, no effective cell-tracking methodology had yet garnered clinical acceptance.”

A labeling and imaging protocol using clinical grade ferumoxytol — an iron replacement product currently approved to treat iron deficiency anemia in patients with chronic kidney disease — has shown promise in some studies as a possible tracking agent. The Moats-Aboody team, in conjunction with Dr. Joseph A. Frank, a co-investigator at NIH, had previously demonstrated that the combination of ferumoxides with protamine sulfate showed promise in labeling the NSCs for this purpose.

In this most recent study, they wanted to build upon their work by testing how adding heparin to the ferumoxytol and protamine sulfate mix (a combination called HPF) might affect the NSC labeling.

The results showed great promise in the lab. “Additionally,” Dr. Aboody said, “when we tested it on mice with brain tumors we were able to track the NSC distribution using an MRI at multiple time-points following intracerebral or intravenous injection. The mice demonstrated no significant clinical or behavioral changes, no neuronal or systemic toxicities and no abnormal accumulation of iron in the liver or spleen.”

“Overall, we propose that ferumoxytol-labeling is an effective cell-tracking method that is safe for clinical use, contributing little to the risk side of a given risk/benefit analysis,” Dr. Moats concluded.

Dr. Moats is a member of the Department of Radiology at Children's Hospital of Los Angeles and University of Southern Californian’s Keck School of Medicine while Dr. Aboody is with the Department of Neurosciences at City of Hope National Medical Center & Beckman Research Institute in Duarte, Calif. The investigative team also included researchers from the National Institutes of Health, the University of Chicago and the University of British Columbia.

”An important aspect of advancing neural stem cells as a treatment for brain tumors is being able to track the cells’ ability to adequately target and distribute throughout the tumor sites,” said Anthony Atala, M.D., editor of STEM CELLS Translational Medicine and director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine. “The current study is important because it identifies an effective cell-tracking method that appears safe for clinical use.”

The full article, “MRI Tracking of Ferumoxytol-labeled Human Neural Stem Cells: Studies Leading to Clinical Use,” can be accessed at http://www.stemcellstm.com.

About STEM CELLS Translational Medicine: STEM CELLS TRANSLATIONAL MEDICINE (SCTM), published by AlphaMed Press, is a monthly peer-reviewed publication dedicated to significantly advancing the clinical utilization of stem cell molecular and cellular biology. By bridging stem cell research and clinical trials, SCTM will help move applications of these critical investigations closer to accepted best practices.

About AlphaMed Press: Established in 1983, AlphaMed Press with offices in Durham, NC, San Francisco, CA, and Belfast, Northern Ireland, publishes two other internationally renowned peer-reviewed journals: STEM CELLS® (http://www.StemCells.com), in its 31th year, is the world's first journal devoted to this fast paced field of research. The Oncologist® (http://www.TheOncologist.com), also a monthly peer-reviewed publication, in its 18th year, is devoted to community and hospital-based oncologists and physicians entrusted with cancer patient care. All three journals are premier periodicals with globally recognized editorial boards dedicated to advancing knowledge and education in their focused disciplines.


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Article: MRI tracking of ferumoxytol-labeled NSCs