This is simply amazing and so encouraging for ameliorating the degenerative effects of muscular dystrophy. And, to think our beloved Goldens are key.
Stem cells treat wasted muscles – Dogs with muscular dystrophy walk better after injections
By Helen Pearson, Nature Magazine
An infusion of stem cells scraped from blood vessels has helped dogs with a form of muscular dystrophy to walk more normally, perhaps heralding a treatment for the human disease. Muscular dystrophies are a group of widespread genetic disorders in which the muscles gradually break down. The most common form, called Duchenne muscular dystrophy, is caused by mutations in a gene called dystrophin and inevitably causes paralysis and death.
Giulio Cossu of the San Raffaele Scientific Institute in Milan, Italy, and his colleagues had previously shown that a type of stem cell called a mesoangioblast, which lives in the walls of blood vessels and can generate muscle cells, can help mice with a form of muscular dystrophy. So they set out to study the effect of the cells in an animal model that more closely mimics the human condition: golden retriever dogs with a mutation in their dystrophin gene.
The team extracted the blood-vessel stem cells from normal dogs, grew them to large numbers in the lab, and injected tens of millions of cells into sick dogs in five monthly injections. Afflicted dogs usually develop troubles walking by 8 months old. But many of the treated dogs did much better; one was still walking well at 13 months of age. The results are published online in Nature.
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Dog helps find cure for fatal muscle disease
By Roger Highfield, Science Editor, Telegraph Media
A stem-cell treatment for the degenerative and fatal disease muscular dystrophy, which mostly affects boys and young men, could be available for testing on patients within two years, following a remarkable series of experiments reported today.
Muscular dystrophy comes in at least 20 forms — with Duchenne being the most common — and causes muscle wasting, progressive paralysis and eventually death, affecting about 30,000 people in Britain alone. There are no effective treatments but today an Italian team reports success in experiments on dogs that have a form of Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which is caused by a lack of the protein dystrophin in muscle fibres.
Golden retrievers also suffer from the genetic disease, the result of a naturally occurring mutation and have been specially bred because they are the most accurate animal model of the human disease.
The dramatic results of stem-cell therapy on the animals are reported in the journal Nature by Prof Giulio Cossu, the director of the Stem Cell Research Institute of San Raffaele Scientific Institute of Milan. The work shows that it is possible to halt this devastating disease and possibly even reverse it to a degree.
The therapy was described as “a very significant advance, perhaps even a breakthrough” by Prof George Dickson of Royal Holloway, University of London.