Researchers at the Andrews Institute for Orthopedics and Sports Medicine are working on a breakthrough clinical trial that could soon bring FDA approval for stem cell knee cartilage repair that’s already available in other countries. Dr. Khay Yong Saw, from Kuala Lumpur, has developed this effective treatment to inject autologous (the patient’s own) stem cells into the deteriorated cartilage to restore its previous durability and function. He is now supervising the process in hopes that his methods can be adapted in an FDA approved treatment. The treatment has the potential to replace invasive surgical procedures that require months in postoperative recovery, and could even utilize mesenchymal stem cells (the same ones found in teeth) given their known properties of differentiating into cartilage tissue. This treatment has already shown promise with over 700 patients in Malaysia in the last 5 years.
Dr. Nadia Zakaria at the University of Antwerp’s Center for Cell Therapy and Regenerative Medicine has been working on a 3D printing method to create fully functioning human corneas using autologous mesenchymal stem cells [MSCs]. Patients require corneal transplants if the cornea is damaged due to severe infection, injury, or clouding due to genetic disorders such as Fuchs Dystrophy. Current corneal transplants come from donors, but the number of available transplants is scarce. Therefore, patients receiving the transplant likely do not receive one that matches their exact eye shape and curvature, further exacerbating the risk of rejection of transplanted tissue. Dr. Zakaria is utilizing a collagen scaffold to grow layers of the cornea using mesenchymal stem cells [the same type of stem cells found in teeth], and the main goal is to achieve the exact clarity and thickness of a fully-fledged human cornea.
Researchers at the University of Minnesota, world leaders in the treatment of Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB), have developed a stem cell treatment [utilizing mesenchymal stem cells – MSCs] to treat the disorder. This devastating condition involves problems with connective tissue, making skin blister and tear with the slightest contact; severe cases impact internal organ tissues as well. Affecting 1 in every 20,000 children, the disorder can lead to severe infections and be fatal. The team at the University utilized a treatment involving complete renewal of the immune system through chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant, followed by the administration of mesenchymal stem cells to regenerate the skin tissue.
Creative Medical Technology Holdings Inc. has announced plans to conduct clinical trials for the treatment of spinal disc degeneration. Lower back pain, caused by disc degeneration, is a leading cause of disability around the world. Building on medical studies that suggests that disc degeneration is caused by the deterioration [over time] of the system of blood vessels that provide nutrients and oxygen to the spine’s discs, the company is developing the protocols for a treatment that introduces autologous [the patient’s own] mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) to the discs of the spinal cord to induce angiogenesis – i.e. the stimulation of new blood vessel production.
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic are researching stem cell treatments for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the onset of which remains unknown and the cure for which has yet to be discovered. For patients with ALS, motor neurons in the brain, which are in charge of basic muscle movement, are destroyed, causing paralysis or severe lack of muscle control. The phase I clinical study is investigating the use of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), known for their ability to support neural growth and survival, to prevent the premature neuron degradation normally associated with ALS, and/or their ability to slow the progression of the disease.
A team at Texas A&M University’s College of Medicine has been working on a treatment to address the side effects of epileptic seizures utilizing vesicles from stem cells. The most significant side effect of seizures is inflammation in the brain, which anti-seizure drugs do not typically treat. The vesicles, known for their anti-inflammatory properties, are separated and recovered from mesenchymal stem cells [MSCs] and delivered via a nasal spray to promote rapid delivery to the brain. Separating the vesicles from their stem cells allows them to penetrate barriers not permeable by the whole stem cell, thereby increasing their efficacy in limiting damage caused by inflammation.
At this year’s Lung Science Conference in Estoril, Portugal, researchers revealed that mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) can be effective in treating chronic inflammatory lung diseases, such as COPD or cystic fibrosis, which currently have no cure. In pre-clinical trials, MSCs injected intravenously into mice with inflammatory lung diseases demonstrated an ability to repair the damaged lung tissue and alleviate inflammation by decreasing the number of neutrophils and monocytic cells, which are indicators of inflammation.
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.
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.