Also this week MedZine brings you the latest medical news on various medical specialisms. In this editorial two striking studies are highlighted. The first describes a method to track transplanted stem cells to repair injured knees. The second shows that the incidence of psychiatric illness is strikingly high in gang members.
Where stem cells are going upon transplantation
Mesenchymal stem cells can differentiate into bone and cartilage, as well as muscle, fat and tendon and they have been used with some success in cartilage-repair procedures. The early repair of cartilage defects in young patients with knee problems may prevent further deterioration of the joint and the need for knee replacement later in life. However, the transplanted mesenchymal stem cells could fail to engraft, migrate away or could develop into other tissue than cartilage, such as fibrous scar tissue. The ability to monitor the cells' engraftment after they are deposited at a patient's knee-injury site is therefore essential. In a publication in Radiology, senior author Daldrup-Link and her team describe a new method to track the injected mesenchymal stem cells. The noninvasive technique uses a FDA-approved imaging agent used for anemia treatment called ferumoxytol. These iron-oxide nanoparticles are used to label cells before extraction from the bone marrow. After extracting the cells from the bone marrow and enriching for mesenchymal stem cells, the mixture is injected into the knee en the researcher could follow the cells with MRI for up to four weeks in rats. This method circumvents additional treatment of the cells after isolation from the bone marrow, thereby avoiding delay, contamination risk and loss of cells. The method will be adapted for use in humans this fall as part of a clinical trial in which mesenchymal stem cells will be delivered to the site of patients' knee injuries.
Metal illness in gang members
A study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, Coid and colleagues describe unprecedented levels of psychiatric illness in gang members. The survey under 4,664 men aged 18 to 34 in Britain covered measures of psychiatric illness, violence and gang membership. This is the first study looking into whether gang violence is associated with psychiatric illness, other than substance misuse. In terms of mental health, gang members and violent men were significantly more likely to suffer from a mental disorder and access psychiatric services than non-violent men. The incidence of anxiety disorder and psychosis were high in this group. The exception was depression, which was significantly less common among gang members and violent men. This study identifies a complex public health problem at the intersection of violence, substance misuse, and mental health problems among young men.
Sources: Eurekalert, Radiology and American Journal of Psychiatry