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Scientists have taken an important step toward understanding a virus that infects and lies dormant in most people, but emerges as a serious illness in transplant patients, some newborns and other people with weakened immune systems. The virus, called human cytomegalovirus, enters the bone marrow and can hide there for a lifetime. Until now, however, scientists had not been able to study the virus in its latent stage because it infects only humans and does not readily infect or become dormant in laboratory strains of bone marrow cells. In a new study researchers demonstrated a laboratory system for studying the virus in its latent stage and discovered a set of genes that may give the virus its great capacity for stealth.
Researchers have shown that an age-related loss of specific stem cells that continually repair damage to blood vessels is critical to determining the onset and progression of atherosclerosis. Stem cells are immature cells that have the potential to mature into a variety of different cells. This novel view of the disease, based on experiments in mice, constitutes a potential new avenue in the treatment of one of the leading causes of death and illness in the U.S., the researchers said.
Bone marrow cells implanted into blood-starved legs formed new blood vessels, increased blood flow and prevented amputation in people with peripheral artery disease, researchers have reported. "This is the first multicenter and double-blind clinical study to prove the clinical efficacy of growing new blood vessels using bone marrow cell transplantation,? says the study's lead author Hiroya Masaki M.D., Ph.D. He hopes that transplanting bone marrow cells will establish a new therapy for peripheral artery disease (PAD).
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