A major obstacle to successful bone marrow transplants (BMT) is rejection due to the age discrepancy of the donor and recipient, with older donors presenting problems due to the donor stem cells’ loss of efficacy with age. The older stem cells’ compromised ability to actively regenerate (given that older stem cells are less active than younger stem cells) increases the risk of age-related rejection significantly. In a groundbreaking study, researchers have discovered that the in-vitro (outside the body) introduction of young mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) to aged donor hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) used for transplants resulted in the rejuvenation of the donor cells likely improving the efficacy of the transplant.
In a major breakthrough, researchers are one step closer to growing functional kidneys from human stem cells with the potential of eliminating the need for donated kidney transplants. The collaborative effort by the researchers at Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, University of Melbourne and Leiden University Medical Center has made progress in vascularizing a lab grown kidney organoid. Kidney tissue has been successfully grown in a lab - with all requisite cell types. However, vascularizing the tissue (allowing for blood flow) has proved difficult. This breakthrough research effort has overcome this obstacle to kidney replacement. In an animal model, researchers implanted the human stem cell-derived organoid into healthy kidney tissue, with the organoid maturing and vascularizing into fully fledged kidney tissue in vivo in 4 weeks.
In a phase 1 clinical trial, a novel mesenchymal stem cell [MSCs] therapy was successfully applied to treat often fatal steroid resistant graft versus host disease [GVHD]. A significant concern with life-saving organ and bone marrow transplants is the risk of immune rejection. GVHD occurs when the transplanted immune cells attack the patient’s body, with patients typically suffering from painful ulcers all over the body, and in extreme cases, death. The therapy, created by Cynata Therapeutics, is called CYP-001, and utilizes mesenchymal stem cells [the same type of cells found in teeth] to treat steroid resistant GVHD. This treatment gives hope to thousands of patients around the world receiving bone marrow transplants and risking the extremely fatal immune response.
Families choosing to bank their stem cells – usually in the form of cord blood and/or dental pulp stem cells, typically view their decision as “biological insurance.” A Phase II clinical trial is investigating the safety and efficacy of autologous [the patient’s own] cord blood stem cells to treat children with behavioral and social difficulties associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). In a clear demonstration of the value of banking your own stem cells, only families that chose to bank their children’s cord blood were qualified to participate in the study.
Prior to receiving FDA approval, new treatments typically go through 3 phases of clinical [human] trials. The problem is that thousands of currently registered clinical trials never get off the ground due to a lack of participants. Though a centralized database of registered clinical trials exists on www.ClinicalTrials.gov, the lack of common language and eligibility matrix has resulted in a frustrating bottleneck between supply [patients] and demand [open clinical trials]. Patients suffering from afflictions that currently have treatments in clinical trial stages often have to go through an arduous search that may not always yield relevant trials or the contact information required to apply.
Phase III clinical trials were announced for an autologous [the patient’s own] stem cell treatment to restore blood vessels and reestablish blood flow following critical limb ischemia (CLI). Ischemia is a lack of blood to an area in the body, typically due to a blood clot, and is common in diabetics and other patients whose conditions result in damage or clotting in the blood vessels. In extreme cases, ischemia can lead to painful ulcers, gangrene and even amputation, given that cells in the area of decreased blood flow begin to die rapidly. The treatment seeks to facilitate re-vascularization through the administration of both blood stem cells and endothelial progenitor cells, which form the walls of blood vessels.
The FDA has approved a novel synthetic scaffold that would allow stem cells to regrow bone more efficiently. The proprietary technology, Osteo-P [from Molecular Matrix Inc.], replaces the use of bone grafts and utilizes the patient’s own stem cells to regrow bone following trauma or injury. The Osteo-P, a scaffold made of carbohydrate [sugar] polymer, is an improved alternative to current bone grafting procedures in that it enables the body’s own stem cells to regenerate bone in aggregate, and it is resorbed by the body as it is replaced by the newly formed bone.
The immunomodulatory properties of mesenchymal stem cells [MSCs] are being tested to relieve the symptoms of asthma - airway inflammation which results in difficulty breathing. Asthmatic symptoms are caused by the body’s hypersensitive immune response to inhaling harmless allergens that trigger inflammation, which constricts airways and causes breathing to become extremely difficult, requiring an inhaler to counteract the inflammation. When administered in an animal model, mesenchymal stem cells (the same type of stem cells found in teeth) have successfully produced anti-inflammatory factors and neuropeptides that counteracted airway hypersensitivity and the production of pro-inflammatory receptors.
For the past 6 years, dentistry has consistently ranked in the top three of U.S. News and World Report’s annual job review. This year dentistry took the #1 healthcare rank and the #2 overall rank (Overall Rank – 2013: #1 2014: #3 2015: #1 2016: #2 2017: #1 2018: #2.) Dentists continue to enjoy an extremely low unemployment rate (0.4%), high job satisfaction and above average flexibility of hours. Though becoming a Dentist is a rigorous academic process; with undergraduate studies in the sciences and mathematics, followed by years of Dental School and residency, the profession remains particularly rewarding. Dentists are also playing a key role in the future of medicine by contributing to regenerative treatments through stem cell banking. Helping extract teeth for stem cell banking puts Dentists on the cusp of cutting edge breakthroughs and treatments, helping their patients acquire biological insurance in the form of stem cells and safeguarding their families against future trauma and illnesses.
Researchers at Cornell University are working on a stem cell-infused implant that could cure insulin deficiency for diabetics. Type I diabetes results from inadequate or malfunctioning insulin-producing beta cells in the islets of the pancreas, as well as an autoimmune response that attacks the body's insulin-producing cells. This treatment utilizes stem cells and directs them to differentiate into these cells. As opposed to daily insulin injections, the treatment is designed to provide a long-term solution that eliminates the need to constantly monitor blood sugar. It utilizes a naturally derived hydrogel to create a thread packed with stem cells induced to become pancreatic islets which is then implanted into the abdomen. Additionally, the treatment addresses what no other current treatment addresses: the body’s immune system attacking the insulin-producing cells. Encasing the cells protects them from the autoimmune response, increasing their efficacy and lifespan.