Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have been found to be effective in accelerating healing time for diabetics. In patients with diabetes, high blood sugar levels negatively impact circulation and impair the immune system’s ability to fight off infections at the site of wounds. In an animal study, adipose derived MSCs, proved to be effective at decreasing inflammation and increasing circulation around wounds. Previous studies have utilized MSCs recovered from bone marrow. This study demonstrates the potential of MSCs, which can be derived from multiple sources, including teeth, to treat the millions of diabetics around the world who suffer from this debilitating affliction.
A case study utilizing a patient’s own stem cells to treat rheumatoid arthritis demonstrated a drastic decrease in joint pain and inflammation. Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) occurs when the immune system incorrectly attacks the body’s tissues, eventually leading to joint deformities, bone erosion and intense pain due to the breakdown of the lining of the joint. Typical treatments for RA involve anti-inflammatory medications, or surgery to repair the joints. However, both types of treatments involve severe side effects and are not guaranteed to work. The stem cell treatment sighted in the case study holds the potential to radically upend current practices and create a new standard of care for this widespread disorder.
Mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) injections have been successfully utilized in a pre-clinical study to treat blood vessel constriction due to atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a disease that occurs when the walls of the arteries become hardened and narrow, due to the damage caused by high blood pressure, smoking and excess cholesterol. This causes further complications, since atherosclerosis is the most common cause of heart attacks, strokes and other arterial diseases. In this study, stem cells’ anti-inflammatory properties in an animal model helped decrease the accumulation of immune cells in the arteries that contribute to plaques. MSC injections have shown to decrease atherosclerotic plaques by 30-40%.
Researchers in Korea are conducting clinical trials utilizing autologous [the patient’s own] stem cells to repair rotator cuff damage. The patients participating in the study sustained a partial thickness rotator cuff tear, which caused chronic shoulder pain and would otherwise require surgical intervention. Typically, rotator cuff tears are treated with nonsurgical methods, such as corticosteroid injections, physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medication. However, these treatments leave nearly half of the patients with chronic pain.
Researchers are utilizing mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) infusions to help heal severe tissue damage following radiation treatments. Often, when patients receive treatment for cancer, the process involves painful and prolonged side effects from the chemotherapy and radiation, which significantly impacts the patients’ quality of life, even when in remission. MSC intravenous infusions demonstrated both healing properties and resulted in a reduction of pain and fistulization (the abnormal connections between organs due to injury and inflammation) following radiation. The patients receiving the treatment had sustained intestinal tissue damage following radiation treatments, and prior to the treatment all patients were experiencing pain, inflammation, fibrosis and hemorrhaging.
Researchers at Hospital De San Jose in Colombia have utilized autologous (the patients’ own) stem cells to regenerate bone in children with cleft palates, greatly improving their quality of life by replacing an often arduous, surgically invasive procedure with a stem cell graft.The children partaking in the study were born with cleft palates, which typically require surgery and extensive grafting with bone from elsewhere in the body to create enough bone matter to support future teeth. When the children were born, their parents made the wise decision to bank their children’s powerful cord blood stem cells, which became vital to the success of this later treatment. This groundbreaking study used the patients’ own stem cells and a biological scaffold to allow the stem cells to grow into bone and fill the cleft. The ability to use autologous stem cells posed no risk of rejection to the patients, and in 5 and 10-year follow ups, the patients showed healthy bone development and experienced no adverse effects.
The University of Illinois at Chicago has received a $5.25 million grant from the Department of Defense [DoD] to develop clinical trials using stem cells to treat eye injuries and expedite healing. The treatments utilize mesenchymal stem cells (the same type of stem cells found in teeth) due to their anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties, which can help heal scarring and preserve eyesight. The treatments are targeted for combat veterans injured due to explosions and chemical burns to the eye, but could also be used to treat chronic corneal injuries in other patients.
A stem cell graft to treat cartilage injuries has been approved by the FDA. Created by the biotechnology company Vericel, the procedure is called Matrix Associated Chondrocyte Implantation (MACI), and involves obtaining stem cells from the patient and culturing them in a lab. The cultured cells are then placed into a matrix to create layers of 3D tissue, which is then implanted back into the knee to repair the injured cartilage. This treatment is specifically targeted to younger patients [recall - younger stem cells are more plentiful and more active] who have experienced what is called a focal chondral defect, which is a lesion or hole in the cartilage due to an injury. This treatment is significant because these cartilage lesions often develop into osteoarthritis, with serious implications for the patient’s future quality of life. Hence, utilization of this FDA approved autologous stem cell treatment would not only address the physical distress of the condition but would also effectively mitigate the concerns and stress patients experience regarding future complications.
12 years ago, Dr. Anthony Atala, a leading stem cell specialist at Boston Children’s Hospital, created a lab-grown bladder from a patient’s own stem cells. The procedure involved obtaining a sample from the patient’s bladder, and culturing the stem cells to grow into a full-sized, functional bladder. 12 years following the procedure, the patient is thriving and has experienced no long-term adverse effects from the regenerated bladder. Since then, the differentiation protocols utilized to grow the bladder have been successfully adapted to grow other functioning tissues like skin, cartilage and urethras, which is indicative of the paradigm shift stem cells represent in treating organ deficiencies.
University of Pennsylvania researchers have utilized dental stem cells from baby teeth to restore injured teeth. The clinical trial involved the use of the patient’s own (autologous) stem cells to treat an injured permanent tooth. The stem cells were obtained from a healthy baby tooth [hence, posed no risk of rejection, since they were the patient’s own], expanded in the lab and implanted into the injured tooth. In follow-ups one year following the procedure, patients in the experimental group regained sensation in the previously injured tooth. The researchers also observed a significant regeneration of dentin, which is the hard part of the tooth, as well as vascularization in the pulp, which led to healthy root development and increased circulation.