Researchers are developing stem cell therapies to restore neurons and repair optic nerve injuries, which cause severe visual impairment and eventual blindness. Currently, optic nerve injuries are untreatable, due to the neuronal death that renders the nerve non-functional following a traumatic injury. This study investigates how periodontal ligament stem cells [PDLSCs] can improve retinal ganglion cells’ (RGC) survival, responsible for the optic nerve’s function. In an animal model, three weeks after an injection of PDLSCs, researchers observed inflammatory responses indicative of increased RGC survival, as well as regeneration of nerve connections, with no adverse effects.
In a recently published study from the Queen Mary University of London, scientists discovered a connection between the length of cilia [hair-like projections for cell movement] on stem cells and their proclivity towards differentiating into fat cells. By restricting the elongation of stem cell cilia, the researchers were able to impede on the formation of new fat cells.
Ophthalmologists James L Funderburgh, Ph.D. and Fatima Syed-Picard, Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh have devised a method for treating corneal blindness by utilizing dental pulp stem cells. The researchers harvested the stem cells from molars discarded during routine extraction and induced the cells to differentiate into keratocytes [corneal cells]. They then seeded the cells onto a nanofiber scaffold, allowing them to grow into fully developed, functional corneas capable of restoring eyesight.
A team of researchers led by Professor Andrew Lotery at Southampton General Hospital have discovered a source of retinal stem cells on the surface of the eye. If scientists can harvest these readily accessible stem cells, convert them to light-sensitive cells, and then transplant them back into the eye, the cells could provide new treatments for age-related macular degeneration [AMD].
As reported on the front page of the New York Times Science section, clinical applications of stem cell based therapies are accelerating at a rate that will revolutionize the medical field in a matter of years. In the United States alone, there are currently over 4000 therapies in clinical trials for the treatment of heart disease, blindness, spinal cord injuries, diabetes, H.I.V., and other diseases, injuries, and traumas.
Topics: Muscular Dystrophy, ALS, Parkinson's, Phase III, multiple sclerosis, Heart, stemsaveblog, Joints, Alzheimer's, burn injuries, Diabetes, Acute Myocardial Infarction, Brain, Heart Failure, clinical trials, Bone, Debilitating Diseases, Phase II, Arthritis, Stemcells, Teeth, autologousstemcells, cartilage, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Brain Tumors, Blindness
Two studies presented at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology in Orlando, FL, have proposed methods to differentiate autologous non-embryonic stem cells into various eye cells that can be utilized to replace damaged tissue in patients with impaired vision. In one study the researchers converted stem cells in the front of the eye to nerve cells in the back of the eye. In the second, stem cells were introduced to specific growth factors that promoted their development into eye tissue.
Researchers from the Institute for Ophthalmology at the University College of London report on a significant advancement in stem cell therapy that can potentially lead to new treatments for blindness. Adult stem cells were manipulated into rod cells and then injected into blind animal models, partially restoring the vision of the animals.
Collaborating reseachers from the Department of Ophthalmology at the Bonn University Hospital and the Neural Stem Cell Institute in New York have successfully replaced damaged cells in eyes impaired by Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) with human stem cells. This implantation technique, conducted in an animal study is the first of its kind and represents a significant advance in developing personalized treatments for patients suffering from a variety of age-related visual impairment issues.
Advances in regenerative medicine, spearheaded by AFIRM [Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine], are restoring function to wounded soldiers. A consortium of research centers is developing techniques to grow body parts, such as ears, bones, skin and genitals. AFIRM is directing 300 million dollars to develop a broad array of regenerative treatments that will impact treatment options for both wounded soldiers and the general population. Many of the treatments are now entering the clinical [human] testing phase with the prospect of growing organs and tissue ‘on demand’ utilizing the patient’s own stem cells on the horizon.