We are always reviewing the scientific and medical literature for important news in the biosciences.
As we come across critical reports we often summarize them for patients and followers who share our passion for medical science.  Dr. Levy gathers  information in succinct articles with key points.



Date: 1/15/18  Byline: Steven Levy MD

List of studies in Wall Street Journal report on stem cells for knee problems


Clinical studies are underway assessing the benefits of Stem Cell treatments in the treatment of various orthopedic problems.  The newest study at Stamford University is called The Effect of Adipose-Derived Stem Cells for Knee Osteoarthritis NCT 03014401.  It is not just an injection of stem cells, but rather a surgical procedure called Arthroscopic debridement combined with adipose derived stem cells (ASC) in comparison to Arthroscopic debridement alone.  There is a separate, existing study at Stamford called Microfracture Versus Adipose Derived Stem Cells for the Treatment of Articular Cartilage Defects NCT 02090140 that is for a specific cartilage defect and which includes use of arthroscopic surgery, ASC and two materials in combination with ASC - Tissell Fibrin, an adjunct to hemostasis and Allopatch HD, a matrix made from donor human skin.  The researchers in the osteoarthritis study hope the addition of ADS to the surgical approach will enhance the effects and help patients avoid joint replacement in the future.

The WSJ reports that physicians at Harvard have been using Bone Marrow Stem Cells for injection in the knee and arthritic joints for several years but that ASC are becoming more popular with those physicians who believe they may last longer for joints.  The WSJ references the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society which explains the use of Bone Marrow Stem Cells to help bone healing, cartilage repair and new blood vessel growth, chronic tendon problems and chronic wounds.

The report also mentions clinical treatments in orthopedics including the use of Bone Marrow Derived Stem Cells in football players with early osteoarthritis. The thinking is that the injections are producing an environment in the joint for healing, at least if the arthritis is not too advanced.  Another study mentioned is the Autologous Culture Expanded Mesenchymal Stromal Cells for Knee Osteoarthritis NCT 028055855 taking place at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. Of particular interest is that the study is amplifying ASC at the university’s own cGMP facility and injecting different amounts in the knee joint with either a single or monthly injections.


Date: 1/12/18  Byline: Steven Levy MD

Glaucoma helped by Nicotinamide/Vitamin B3 ?

Researchers are exploring the use of Nicotinamide for neuroprotection in Glaucoma.  Nicotinamide is found in many foods and is part of the Vitamin B3 complex that includes Niacin.  Neuroprotection is the restoration of the resiliency of neurons and their ability to resist stress and damage.  This also refers to the retinal ganglion cells that make up the optic nerve.  In glaucoma pressure in the eye causes deterioration and death of these cells, usually over years.  Glaucoma is the world’s leading cause of blindness from optic nerve disease.

According to a report in Ocular Surgery News, Drs. Jeffrey Liebmann MD said that there were different ways to lower IOP but that many patients still progressed with vision loss making neuroprotection an important pursuit. His colleague Dr. Simon John PhD explained that in their preclinical (animal) studies, Nicotinamide was protective at different eye pressures, making the optic nerve cells more resilient like younger cells.  The researchers’ goal is to provide further protection from the disease.

Other studies have suggested mitochondrial abnormalities may contribute to glaucoma progression.  Possibly mechanisms include a decline in Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide or NAD, an important redox molecule for energy production.  As cells age or if there are mitochondrial abnormalities, NAD levels may decline leading to inefficient energy extraction.  This may lead to overall cell stress and increased vulnerability to glaucoma.  Improving low NAD levels may be possible with Nicotinamide supplementation, helping to avoid further progression according to the researchers.

“One of the mechanisms Bone Marrow Stem Cells (BMSC) have demonstrated is the ability to transfer their own mitochondria to other cells under stress”, reminds Dr. Steven Levy MD.  “The Stem Cell Ophthalmology Treatment Studies (SCOTS) has seen multiple examples of improvements in central and peripheral vision for patients with optic nerve disease including those with glaucoma, optic nerve stroke (NAION), optic atrophy, optic neuropathies and hereditary optic nerve disease.  These central and peripheral vision improvements may, at least in part, be attributable to restoration of mitochondrial function in stressed, dysfunctional cells.  Use of BMSC may provide this restoration more directly and effectively, thereby allowing actual improvements in vision.”


Date: 1/11/18  Byline: Steven Levy MD

Drug based on curry spice Tumeric may turn back time in Alzheimer's

The Salk Institute for Biological Studies reports that a drug that is a modification of curcumin found in the curry spice Tumeric may have anti-aging properties, specifically in mitochondria, and therefore have benefit across different degenerative neurologic diseases including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.  The idea is that mitochondrial aging plays a role in the deterioration of cells and therefore improving it's activity may be neuroprotective.  As mitochondria age they tend to 'leak' free radicals damaging the cells.  So perhaps improving their function can reduce this problem.

The new paper  "The mitochondrial ATP synthase is a shared drug target for aging and dementia" Goldberg J, Currais A, Prior M et al. published in the January 2018 issue of Aging Cell  is available for early viewing.

Although cellular aging has long been suspected as a cause of dementia and it was important before potential clinical trials could begin to determine the target of the new drug J147.  Now it has been determined that the drug targets ATP synthase, increasing calcium levels within the cell which leads to increased activity of protein kinase kinase beta (CAMKK2) which is a canonical  longevity mechanism. This affects mitochondrial processes and prevents age related 'drift' of hippocampal (a memory area of the brain) transcriptome and plasma metabolome, extending life.

J147 is reported to be almost ready for clinical trials.  We wish group all the best in moving this science forward !