Scientists at the University of California San Francisco have recently found that a majority of the body’s megakaryocytes, which produce platelets, are actually working in the lungs to produce blood, and the lungs also contain and synthesize mesenchymal stem cells that can replace those of the bone marrow when necessary. When the stem cells typically working in the lungs were administered to mice with low platelet levels, or where blood-producing stem cells in the lungs were not present, the stem cells from the working lungs assumed the responsibility of the stem cells that normally carry out this process.
A team at the Stem Cell Medical Clinic in Seoul, South Korea has been investigating the use of mesenchymal stem cells [MSCs] as a non-invasive, non-surgical alternative for repairing a torn meniscus. Meniscus tears prove complicated because of their lack of vascularity and blood flow, significantly increasing healing time. Serious injuries to the least vascular part of the meniscus normally require meniscectomies. The use of MSCs has demonstrated an ability to regenerate the fibrocartilage of the meniscus, as well as prevent early development of osteoarthritis, a major side effect of a meniscectomy.
Bay area food technology startup Memphis Meats has grown real-tasting chicken meat, without ever raising a single chicken. Companies are capitalizing on the technology of using stem cells to grow meat tissue, producing meat that bypasses farms, going straight from lab to table. This innovation not only proves more environmentally friendly, but also cuts the costs of feeding and waste disposal associated with raising livestock and poultry, but incorporates stem cells in a novel and unconventional way.
Dr. Abba Zubair of the Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus, known for their research in regenerative medicine, is spearheading research on the effects of microgravity on stem cell growth. In previous studies, the weightlessness in microgravity was shown to promote fast and effective reproduction of stem cells. The ability to rapidly multiply stem cells would go a long way toward eliminating the deficit of available stem cells that could be used to treat the inflammation associated with strokes, and to promote neuron and blood vessel regeneration.
Indiana University’s School of Medicine, spearheading the efforts of over forty researchers in the U.S. and South Korea, has determined that electro acupuncture can be utilized to induce the release of reparative mesenchymal stem cells, which have healing effects when released into the bloodstream. The electric current that is passed through during acupuncture hastens the communication between the stimulus point on the body and the neurons in the spinal cord. This activates the hypothalamus and directs stem cells to an area of injury or stress, promoting collagen production and tendon repair, both linked to expedited healing times.
Wan-Ju Li and Tsung-Lin Tsai, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, have developed a more efficient method to regrow large masses of bone. Using the proteins lipocalin-2 and prolactin, the researchers were able to slow and neutralize senescence, a naturally occurring process that negatively impacts the ability of stem cells to divide and grow, thereby preserving the regenerative capabilities of the mesenchymal stem cells and facilitating bone growth. The combination of these two proteins in culture provides sustenance for the stem cells to remain in prime condition until they are ready to be implanted into the patient.
Researchers at South Korea’s Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology have developed a new scaffolding technique that speeds up stem cell differentiation for bone formation. Utilizing carbon nitride sheets infused with stem cells, the researchers were able to regenerate bone. The carbon nitride sheets possessed photocatalytic properties, which facilitated bone growth. This study marks an important advancement in treatments for bone fractures and periodontal disease.
Researchers from Imperial College London, led by Dr. Paolo Muraro, have refined a stem cell treatment for Multiple Sclerosis (MS); using the patient’s own stem cells to reset the immune system and “freeze” the disease. MS is a disease in which the body’s immune system attacks the protective sheath (myelin) that covers nerve fibers thereby causing communication disruptions between the brain and the rest of the body. The treatment works by first recovering healthy stem cells from the patient and then, using high-dose chemotherapy to kill the remaining damaged immune cells. Reintroducing the recovered stem cells into the patient’s body reboots the immune system and halts the disease.
A research team from the Stem Cell Engineering Center of the Translational Chinese Medicine has developed a method for repairing lungs afflicted with interstitial fibrosis utilizing autologous [the patient’s own] stem cells. The team recovered stem cells from the patient, cultured them in-vitro [outside the body] and then reintroduced them into the patient to repair the damaged lung tissue. The use of the patient’s own stem cells virtually eliminated the likelihood the patient would reject the treatment.
Researchers at Penn State University, led by Xiaojun Lance Lian, have developed a method to regenerate the surface of a human heart utilizing stem cells. Prior to this advance, researchers could only differentiate stem cells into the middle layer of the heart [myocardium]. By activating the Wnt pathway the researchers were able to direct the stem cells to become the outside layer of the heart [epicardium], bringing researchers one step closer to regenerating an entire heart wall.