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Could Stem Cells Cure MS?

from the Scientist

Human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) have become a popular potential therapy for numerous autoimmune and neurological disorders. But while these bone marrow-derived stem cells have been studied in great detail in the dish, scientists know little about how they modulate the immune system and promote tissue repair in living organisms.

Now, one research team has uncovered a molecular mechanism by which hMSCs promote recovery in a mouse model of multiple sclerosis (MS).

According to research, published online Sunday (May 20) in Nature Neuroscience, a growth factor produced by hMSCs fights MS in two ways: blocking a destructive autoimmune response and repairing neuronal damage. The finding could help advance ongoing clinical trials testing hMSCs as a therapy for MS.

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PODCASTS: From Balloons to Space Stations: Studying Cosmic Rays

CREAM Inflating

Cosmic rays have mysterious qualities about them that scientists continue to research in order to better understand their origins and composition. Dr. Eun-Suk Seo, a professor of physics at the University of Maryland, and her colleagues, fly enormous balloons as large as a football stadium and a volume of 40-million-cubic feet for extended periods over Antarctica to study particles coming from cosmic rays before they break up in the atmosphere.

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