Once considered a liability, Red Sox player Drew Pomeranz is now one of the Red Sox’s most consistent players, following a stem cell injection. After erratic starts and being left on the disabled list at the start of the season, Pomeranz underwent an injection of his own stem cells to accelerate the recovery of his elbow injury, opting against surgery and platelet rich plasma injections. Now he’s helping his team retain a top spot in the league with his newly healed arm.
Dr. Nadia Zakaria at the University of Antwerp’s Center for Cell Therapy and Regenerative Medicine has been working on a 3D printing method to create fully functioning human corneas using autologous mesenchymal stem cells [MSCs]. Patients require corneal transplants if the cornea is damaged due to severe infection, injury, or clouding due to genetic disorders such as Fuchs Dystrophy. Current corneal transplants come from donors, but the number of available transplants is scarce. Therefore, patients receiving the transplant likely do not receive one that matches their exact eye shape and curvature, further exacerbating the risk of rejection of transplanted tissue. Dr. Zakaria is utilizing a collagen scaffold to grow layers of the cornea using mesenchymal stem cells [the same type of stem cells found in teeth], and the main goal is to achieve the exact clarity and thickness of a fully-fledged human cornea.
The FDA panel’s unanimous recommendation to approve an autologous leukemia treatment represents a paradigm shift in medicine in which gene therapies and stem cells will play leading roles.
The treatment involves altering the genes of T cells, which are highly specialized stem cells obtained from bone marrow, to target a specific protein on the surface of defective immune cells that cause leukemia. It works by harvesting the cells from the patient, engineering them to target the protein CD-19 on the surface of B Cells, and intravenously administering the cells back into the patient, where they multiply and essentially eradicate the B Cells. Showing promise, over 80% of the patients in the trial have gone into remission.
Artist and researcher Amy Karle is collaborating with researchers at the California Academy of Science and Autodesk to develop a method to 3D print a human arm using stem cells. Karle created a 3D printed scaffold and a culture medium that will direct the stem cells to grow into the structure of the bones in the arm. Her methods could be essential for future limb transplants, which could be grown in a lab rather than obtained from a donor.
Researchers at the University of Minnesota, world leaders in the treatment of Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB), have developed a stem cell treatment [utilizing mesenchymal stem cells – MSCs] to treat the disorder. This devastating condition involves problems with connective tissue, making skin blister and tear with the slightest contact; severe cases impact internal organ tissues as well. Affecting 1 in every 20,000 children, the disorder can lead to severe infections and be fatal. The team at the University utilized a treatment involving complete renewal of the immune system through chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant, followed by the administration of mesenchymal stem cells to regenerate the skin tissue.
Researchers at University of California San Francisco are utilizing stem cells to produce small, lab-grown organs that are helping identify the source of craniofacial birth defects. Children with these defects must endure a life of difficulties, including trouble breathing, seeing and speaking, due to the deformity of the face or head. However, with this advancement in research, UCSF’s team has been working on a drug that could treat the separation of mutated and normal cells, which is what typically leads to the deformities.
Biostar Stem Cell Research institute has developed a protocol for the use of autologous [the patient’s own] stem cells to combat Alzheimer’s Disease with the FDA has approving Phase I and II clinicals trials for the new treatment. The process involves recovering, isolating and culturing the patient’s own stem cells. Culturing the cells results in the production of a clinically significant number of cells, enabling an extended treatment period and protocol. These cells are injected intravenously across ten treatments, using approximately 200 million cells each time. By utilizing the patient’s own stem cells to address neural degradation, the researchers anticipate the treatment may go a long way to both slow the degenerative progression of the disease, while also addressing the root cause of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Researchers at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital are one step closer to reducing organ donor shortages by creating self-organizing human liver tissues. Utilizing innovative genetic sequencing observed in a 3D microenvironment, researchers identified the transcription factors responsible for the signal that causes stem cells to differentiate into liver tissue. This sequence of genes enabled them to program lab-grown liver cells that both genetically, and functionally, closely resemble actual developing liver cells.
Researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine have found that an inflammatory metabolite in the body, typically suppressed with pain relieving and anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin or ibuprofen, expedites the healing process for muscles by activating stem cells. The metabolite, called prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), is part of the body’s normal inflammatory response, but painkillers usually taken to relieve muscle soreness inhibit its production. The discovery of this mechanism has given insight to scientists of the micro environment stem cells need to function in, paving the way for enhanced treatments for muscle injuries and trauma as well potential treatments to combat the natural degradation of muscle mass that accompanies aging.
The Texas legislature has just passed House Bill 810, allowing chronically or terminally ill patients access to adult stem cell treatments that are currently in clinical trials but are not yet approved by the FDA. Hence, potentially successful treatments may now be accessed by patients who have exhausted all other measures of treatment, but whose time will have run out by the time these treatments receive approval.