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Researchers First to Use Common Virus to 'Fortify' Adult Stem Cells

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Using the same strategy that a common virus employs to evade the human immune system, researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center's Institute for Regenerative Medicine have modified adult stem cells to increase their survival -- with the goal of giving the cells time to exert their natural healing abilities.

"Basically, we've helped the cells be 'invisible' to the body's natural killer cells, T cells and other aspects of the immune system, so they can survive to promote healing," said Graca Almeida-Porada, M.D., Ph.D., senior author and professor of regenerative medicine at Wake Forest Baptist.

The research, reported in the current issue of PLOS ONE, a peer-reviewed, open access journal, involves mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), found in bone marrow, peripheral and cord blood and fetal liver and lung tissue. These cells are known for their ability to migrate to damaged tissues and contribute to healing. However, like all cells, they are susceptible to being killed by the body's complement system, a part of the immune system involved in inflammation and organ rejection.

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