08.06.2018 change 08.06.2018

Experts: Polish researchers contribute to the development of regenerative medicine

Photo: Fotolia Photo: Fotolia

The participation of Polish scientists in international work on the use of stem cells, for example in stroke treatment, was discussed at this week`s conference in the Senate of the Republic of Poland. According to experts, Polish scientists have made a significant contribution to the development of regenerative medicine, aiming at tissue repair.

During the conference "Participation of Polish scientists in international projects" Prof. Jerzy Walecki, chairman of the Medical Physics, Radiobiology and Diagnostic Imaging Committee of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw, emphasised that the conference should show "how scientifically talented we are as a nation" and how important it is to maintain cooperation between foreign centres, in which Polish scientists work, and Polish institutes and universities. The expert stressed that Polish scientists were making very interesting discoveries, among other things on neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer`s disease or multiple sclerosis.

According to Prof. Tomasz Trojanowski from the Medical University of Lublin, regenerative medicine of the brain is a very important field. For many years, the scientific community believed that the central nervous system does not regenerate the areas damaged as a result of disease processes. "The fascinating recent achievements of medicine indicate that there are opportunities to induce regeneration in the central nervous system, which is a great hope for patients affected by various diseases of the nervous system, including stroke" - he said.

Dr. Małgorzata Dorobek from the Institute of Medicine believes that currently used stroke treatment methods are imperfect and insufficient. Thrombolysis (pharmacological dissolution of the thrombus that blocks the artery supplying blood to the brain) or thrombectomy (mechanical removal of the thrombus from the cerebral artery) can be applied up to about 4.5 hours, max. 6 hours after the onset of stroke. "Therefore, the percentage of patients who can benefit from this treatment is small" - the researcher said.

According to Dorobek, a hope for stroke patients may be regenerative medicine, which offers therapies that stimulate tissue and cell repair. It gives the chance to increase the percentage of patients who will benefit from stroke treatment. Currently, scientists have high hopes for so-called mesenchymal stem cells (these cells can be obtained from adult tissues, including bone marrow, but also tissues such as the placenta and even umbilical cord blood).

The activity of these cells in the central nervous system, in the place where ischemia and necrosis occurred due to stroke, is expected to include inhibiting the inflammatory process and stimulating the secretion of various growth factors that can promote the repair of cells and tissues. "Some researchers also believe that stem cells may undergo differentiation into neurons" - said Dr. Dorobek. But she noted that according to other scientists there was not enough evidence to support that claim. Dr. Dorobek`s team is currently involved in an international project concerning the use of stem cells in the treatment of stroke.

Professor Walecki emphasised that the latest neuroimaging methods are extremely helpful in the proper qualification of patients after a stroke for treatment with stem cells and monitoring the effects of therapy. His team cooperates with an American neuroradiologist, Prof. Peter B. Barker from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.

Prof. Walecki explained that modern radiological methods allow for live (in living tissues - ed. PAP) imaging of the processes occurring in the affected area: whether neurons and nerve fibres are damaged, what is happening in the blood vessels, how inflammation develops. This allows to determine the area of the brain, to which stem cells should be delivered after stroke.

Scientists also presented other possibilities of using advanced radiological techniques in the so-called precision medicine. The examples include the first clinical trials of intra-arterial treatment of malignant gliomas (malignant tumours of the brain - PAP) under magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

PAP - Science in Poland

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