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.
UCLA researchers are using stem cells and gene therapy to reverse the effects of HIV. The treatment utilizes stem cells to carry the chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) genes that have been successfully used to treat leukemia and are being explored for other cancers. The modified stem cells can trigger the immune system to specifically target and destroy HIV infected cells without harming nearby healthy cells. The stem cells carrying the gene are able to directly interrupt the mechanism between the virus and body cell surface receptors that allow the virus to infect the cells by binding to the virus and destroying it.
In several clinical and animal studies, researchers are utilizing mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) to treat Type II Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM). Type 2 Diabetes affects approximately 415 million people worldwide, with diabetes mellitus (DM) further exacerbating diabetes’ adverse health effects. Symptoms of DM are caused by both a lack of insulin, as-well-as an intolerance to the scarce amount of insulin that is produced by the pancreatic islet cells. DM is typically a precursor to ischemic heart disease, stroke, blindness and chronic kidney disease with no effective treatments currently available to prevent these complications. With previous treatments using donated organs and insulin producing cells proving unsuccessful, MSCs are emerging as an extremely effective tool to restore normal function to the pancreatic islet cells and alleviate the other symptoms of DM. MSCs (the same type of stem cells that are found in teeth) not only normalize natural insulin levels, but also help ameliorate insulin resistance in the body’s tissues by creating a favorable microenvironment.
UCLA researchers have developed a potential stem cell based treatment for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). This degenerative muscular disorder - caused by a genetic mutation in a protein essential for skeletal muscle function - primarily affects young men and boys, degenerating skeletal muscle to the point where it eventually wastes away. This severe degeneration of skeletal muscle results in almost a complete lack of voluntary movement. The UCLA team used the gene editing technology, CRISPR, to repair the mutated gene for the protein in stem cells obtained from the subjects and reintroduced the re-programmed muscle cells back into the subjects. In an animal model, the re-programmed cells successfully produced the dystrophin protein, reversing the degeneration of the skeletal muscle. The team has also conducted a second set of biological markers to ensure complete differentiation into adult muscle cells.