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Insights On The Use Of Stem Cells To Address Loss Of Smell.

BOSTON, Mass., December 4, 2017 -- Researchers here are examining the behavior of stem cells within the context of aging and loss of smell. They report mechanisms to regenerate adult stem cells in mice to restore smell cells: it mimics induced pluripotency, but is simpler, involving only two Yamanaka factors.

As part of normal aging, older adults frequently experience a decline in their olfactory function, resulting in a compromised or complete loss of sense of smell.

Whether as a result of aging, medication, illness or injury, the loss of sense of smell affects sense of taste.

When intact, smell combines with taste to communicate the flavor of food. Smell loss in older adults reduces quality of life, compromises nutritional status, and puts the health and safety of the elderly at risk.

The focus of the research at Tufts University School of Medicine is on enlarging the population of adult stem cells that maintain the sense of smell in young adults, but which deteriorate with aging. The ultimate goal is to identify a pharmaceutical preparation that has that effect.

In the new study, the researchers provide the first evidence that it is possible to regenerate stem cells of the nasal tissue in mice, thus enlarging the population of adult stem cells.

Adult stem cells may be able to regenerate in response to injury to tissue as part of a natural healing process.

The team took advantage of that natural healing process. Adult stem cells regenerated in mice with injured nasal tissue.

When those adult stem cells were transplanted into other mice, they were able to regenerate all the different cell types in the nasal tissue, also called the olfactory epithelium.

This expansion of the stem cell population improved when the researchers swabbed a pharmaceutical preparation into the nose; the drug combination pushed progenitor cells to remain upstream as adult stem cells.

Though the response involved the Yamanaka factors, the new strategy is more efficient and less complicated than the induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) approach.

The approach was designed to replace stem cells lost to aging by inducing cells taken from adult tissues to behave like embryonic stem cells, by forcing them to express four genes that are usually expressed in embryonic stem cells.

The research team determined that only two of the four factors used earlier to artificially reprogram adult cells into iPSCs are critical to the process of pushing the olfactory cells to become more stem celllike.

The process shares a core similarity with iPSC technology, which provides a potential explanation and natural origin for the mechanism that the scientific community has harnessed to great effect.

"The direct restoration of adult stem cells has implications for many types of tissue degeneration associated with aging, though we are several years away from designing actual therapies based on this work. The olfactory epithelium is a singularly powerful model for understanding how tissues regenerate or fail to do so," said senior author Jim Schwob.

The researchers say restoring the population of stem cells in the olfactory epithelium by regenerating them or by administering the right drug as a nasal spray may prevent deterioration in the sense of smell.

Citation: Brian Lin et al., "Injury Induces Endogenous Reprogramming and Dedifferentiation of Neuronal Progenitors to Multipotency," Cell Stem Cell, 2017; DOI: 10.1016/j.stem.2017.09.008

Abstract/Article : http://bit.ly/2Czu90P

Contact: James E. Schwob, jim.schwob@tufts.edu
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Title Annotation:Preclinical Research
Author:Schwob, James E.
Publication:Stem Cell Research News
Date:Dec 18, 2017
Words:567
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