A fourteen-year-old cancer patient has gone into full remission after partaking in the clinical trial of a stem cell therapy conducted at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The recently approved FDA treatment, also known as chimeric antigen receptor T-cell [CAR T cell] therapy, works by obtaining autologous (the patient’s own) immune stem cells, genetically altering and expanding them to recognize a specific molecule on the surface of cancer cells and become targeted cancer killers. In this case, it was used to treat acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) originating in the B cells.
Once considered a liability, Red Sox player Drew Pomeranz is now one of the Red Sox’s most consistent players, following a stem cell injection. After erratic starts and being left on the disabled list at the start of the season, Pomeranz underwent an injection of his own stem cells to accelerate the recovery of his elbow injury, opting against surgery and platelet rich plasma injections. Now he’s helping his team retain a top spot in the league with his newly healed arm.
Researchers at University of California San Francisco are utilizing stem cells to produce small, lab-grown organs that are helping identify the source of craniofacial birth defects. Children with these defects must endure a life of difficulties, including trouble breathing, seeing and speaking, due to the deformity of the face or head. However, with this advancement in research, UCSF’s team has been working on a drug that could treat the separation of mutated and normal cells, which is what typically leads to the deformities.
The Texas legislature has just passed House Bill 810, allowing chronically or terminally ill patients access to adult stem cell treatments that are currently in clinical trials but are not yet approved by the FDA. Hence, potentially successful treatments may now be accessed by patients who have exhausted all other measures of treatment, but whose time will have run out by the time these treatments receive approval.
Dr. Farid Saleh at the Erhlich Animal Hospital and Arthritis Therapy Center in Tampa, Florida is utilizing innovative stem cell treatments to improve the lives of pets with degenerative disorders. Just like people, animals can suffer from ailments such as arthritis, and this leads to difficulty moving, which significantly decreases the animal’s quality of life. The Hospital’s application of stem cell treatments in animals could disseminate throughout the medical industry, making treatments more readily accessible to people, in addition to bettering the lives of everyone’s beloved pets.
Researchers at UCLA, in a step toward clinical trials, have sent subjects to space to test an osteoporosis drug under development. In the latest trial, mice that are administered the drug have been sent to the international space station, where loss of bone mass is exacerbated due to lack of gravity. The drug, NELL-1, has the ability to direct stem cells to become osteoblasts (bone-building cells), making bone restoration more prolific, as well as slowing the loss of bone mass due to age. This drug has the potential to help people with significant bone trauma, such as astronauts, who are subject to loss of bone mass due to prolonged exposure to microgravity, members of the military who experience injury, and individuals experiencing bone loss due to age.
Researchers at the University of Maryland Medical Center are developing a stem cell treatment that can be utilized to treat hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) in children. By taking a new approach to make the right side of the heart stronger instead of replacing the damaged left side, researchers hope to engender a more permanent fix. The procedure would represent a significant advancement over current HLHS treatments; which include heart transplants and reconstructive procedures that only provide temporary relief.
A published report in Surgical Technology International cites the benefits of using autologous [the patient’s own] mesenchymal stem cells [MSCs] to effectively treat degenerative disc disease (DDD). The study also found that the use of stem cells to augment spinal fusion surgery demonstrated an efficacy that met the gold standard for iliac crest bone graft in posterolateral fusion models.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center have developed a system that uses differentiated human stem cells to expedite the testing of existing drugs that might work against rare cancers. By transforming human stem cells into an aggressive form of pediatric brain cancer, medulloblastoma, they can be compared to cancer cells already tested against existing drugs.
Researchers, led by Dr. Markus Kuehn of the University of Iowa, are developing a regenerative procedure utilizing stem cells to restore proper drainage for fluid-congested eyes at risk for glaucoma. The injection of stem cells into the eyes of mice with glaucoma led to the proliferation of cells within the trabecular meshwork, a patch of tissue in the eye that serves as a drain for the eyes to avoid fluid buildup.