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.
A Phase I clinical trial has been approved to assess the efficacy of a stem cell graft procedure that seeks to provide a more robust treatment option for the millions of individuals who suffer from cardiomyopathy. Cardiomyopathy is a disease which affects cardiac muscle, making it extremely difficult to for the heart to pump blood, straining and wearing down the cardiac muscles further. Prolonged cardiomyopathy can require surgical intervention, and in severe cases, a heart transplant. By implanting a thin membrane of collagen scaffold – seeded with the patient’s own stem cells, over the affected area, the stem cell graft changes the status quo on cardiomyopathy treatments by allowing the damaged heart muscle to mend itself. While current surgical treatments lack long-term efficacy in clinical applications, this novel approach was developed to specifically concentrate the stem cells to the site of the damaged tissue thereby increasing cellular repair and survival.
Researchers at the Salk Institute are developing an autologous stem cell cure to treat hemophilia, a genetic disorder affecting millions worldwide. Hemophilia is a disorder in which a person’s blood has a diminished ability to clot, posing the risk of severe bleeding from minor injuries like nosebleeds. Additionally, people with hemophilia are at an even greater risk for internal bleeding, which can arise from minor injuries. Hemophilia is typically inherited but can also be acquired in adulthood. The genetic disorder is caused by an inappropriate immune response where immune cells attack the blood’s clotting factors, or a mutation that prevents the production of the clotting factor altogether. This treatment involves obtaining autologous (the patient’s own) stem cells, editing them to correct the faulty gene with the help of CRISPR (a gene editing technology), and reintroducing the cells back into the body.
Researchers at the University of Chile have found that mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) injections could treat a genetic predisposition for excessive alcohol consumption. In an animal model, rats that were bred to consume high volumes of alcohol received intracranial MSC injections, which are meant to treat the neuroinflammation exhibited in individuals who chronically abuse alcohol [and drugs]. The study revealed that following the injections, voluntary alcohol intake decreased dramatically. These are promising results for the many people suffering from a predisposition to alcoholism. Additionally, the study addressed the significant hurdle of devising an effective method of delivery for the stem cells. While intracranial injections ensure the most concentrated delivery of stem cells, it is not ideal. Intravenous delivery also proves difficult given the highly selective blood-brain barrier. The researchers addressed both issues by effectively reducing cell size by growing MSCs in a spheroid aggregate and then administering them intravenously. This enabled the MSCs to be delivered to the brain effectively and efficiently, reducing the alcohol intake by 90% in as little as 48 hours.
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.
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 Harvard Medical School have utilized stem cells to grow a functional small intestine in a lab. Using human stem cells, the researchers were able to differentiate them into intestinal cells and induced them to form a fully functional intestinal tissue. Previous studies have been successful at growing miniscule segments of the organ, but this innovative study has homed in on a method for compiling smaller, stem cell-derived tissue into an organoid that could soon be available to use in transplants as replacement for damaged organs. Patients who suffer from gastrointestinal tract ailments could benefit from this, in addition to patients who have had portions of their digestive tracts removed due to cancer.
Researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine believe that a decline in the number of neural stem cells in the hypothalamus is one of the major causes for aging. The hypothalamus is involved in regulation of hormone-secreting glands, metabolism, growth and plays an important role in maintaining the general health and stability of the body (homeostasis). In an animal model, by replenishing the supply of stem cells in the hypothalamus, researchers delayed the noticeable and deteriorating effects of aging. The study involved two phases to test the researcher’s hypothesis. The first phase involved taking one group of “middle-aged” mice and decreasing the supply of stem cells in the hypothalamus and comparing them to a control group where no manipulation took place. The manipulated group exhibited quicker deterioration and displayed palpable signs of aging compared to the control group, suggesting that the number of stem cells present in the hypothalamus is linked to the aging process. In the second phase of the study, a manipulated group received additional stem cells. In comparing this manipulated group to the control group, the manipulated group exhibited a slowing of the aging process as a result of the addition of stem cells. Therefore, when the number of stem cells was increased rather than decreased, the mice showed a slower progression of age related deterioration over their lifespan.
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.
Ryan Tannehill, quarterback for the Miami Dolphins, avoided invasive ACL repair with a stem cell treatment. A common injury among athletes, ACL tears require surgery and long months of recovery and physical therapy to restore normal mobility and function in the knee. Tannehill was able to avoid this arduous process in favor of a stem cell treatment, and although he is required to wear a brace, he does not display limited mobility typically associated with this injury.