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Muscle Nerve. 2003 Feb;27(2):133-41.

Stem cell route to neuromuscular therapies.

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Muscle Cell Biology Group, MRC Clinical Sciences Centre, Imperial College School of Medicine, Hammersmith Campus, Du Cane Road, London W12 0NN, UK.


As applied to skeletal muscle, stem cell therapy is a reincarnation of myoblast transfer therapy that has resulted from recent advances in the cell biology of skeletal muscle. Both strategies envisage the reconstruction of damaged muscle from its precursors, but stem cell therapy employs precursors that are earlier in the developmental hierarchy. It is founded on demonstrations of apparently multipotential cells in a wide variety of tissues that can assume, among others, a myogenic phenotype. The main demonstrated advantage of such cells is that they are capable of colonizing many tissues, including skeletal and cardiac muscle via the blood vascular system, thereby providing the potential for a body-wide distribution of myogenic progenitors. From a practical viewpoint, the chief disadvantage is that such colonization has been many orders of magnitude too inefficient to be useful. Proposals for overcoming this drawback are the subject of much speculation but, so far, relatively little experimentation. This review attempts to give some perspective to the status of the stem cell as a therapeutic instrument for neuromuscular disease and to identify issues that need to be addressed for application of this technology.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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