Researchers at the Mayo Clinic are utilizing autologous (the patient’s own) mesenchymal stem cells to treat spinal cord injuries. Traumatic spinal cord injuries cause permanent damage to functional and motor skills of patients, and often leads to paraplegia or tetraplegia - a complete paralysis of the body either from the neck or the waist down. These injuries most often arise from car accidents and severe falls, affecting hundreds of thousands of patients each year. Typically, there is no ability for rehabilitation for tetraplegic and paraplegic patients. Hence, an autologous stem cell therapy that restores function would represent a groundbreaking advance.
Researchers at the University of Zurich are utilizing dental stem cells to regenerate mammary glands and milk-producing cells. The study has the potential to impact millions of breast cancer survivors who have had to have mastectomies to eliminate their breast cancer. Mastectomies are often used as a treatment or preventative measure for breast cancer, where all breast tissue is removed in order to remove cancerous tissues or significantly reduce the risk in people with a strong family history of breast cancer. Currently, the impact on women who have children following a mastectomy is that they can no longer reap the benefits of breast feeding their children.
A stem cell and tissue engineering therapy has been EU approved to treat patients with a rare, but devastating, eye condition called limbal stem cell deficiency (LSCD). This disorder stems from scar tissue formation, and often causes pain, which in turn leads to vision impairment and often blindness. LSCD can arise from chemical burns to the eye, which often occurs with people in the military and other dangerous lines of work. Since this disorder is rare, the treatment options are more limited than they would be for more commonplace conditions. Current conventional treatments involve placating the symptoms, accompanied by painful procedures to remove the scarring of corneal tissue in the eye, but until now, no effective cure has been available.
Topics: autologous stem cells
Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) arise when a physical injury to the head triggers a devastating response that destroys the brain’s neurons and leads to a deprivation of nutrients and oxygen in certain parts of the brain. These injuries often occur during military service, in car accidents and other types of collisions involving trauma to the head. This response leads to extensive damage to a person’s motor skills, language and cognitive ability. The issue that arises with TBIs is that although the brain’s neurons are constantly making new synaptic connections among existing neurons, the neurons themselves do not regenerate, so there is currently no effective way to restore the brain function that is lost.
Topics: traumatic brain injury
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania are homing in on how the regenerative properties of dental stem cells can be used to heal wounds and injuries in patients suffering from a variety of afflictions. The catalyst for the research is the numerous studies demonstrating that oral gingival wounds heal faster than cutaneous wounds and exhibit minimal scar formation. To expand the potential applications of these fast healing stem cells, Professor Songtao Shi at Penn Dental Medicine is collaborating with researchers from Peking University, University of Southern California, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. The researchers homed in on particular proteins secreted by gingival stem cells (a type of dental stem cells) that appeared to rapidly accelerate wound healing in gums compared to wounds on the skin. The researchers looked to utilize these stem cells, and their protein secretions, to test whether they would accelerate healing elsewhere in the body.
Topics: dental stem cell use
Aleph Farms, a pioneering lab-grown meat company, has sent stem cells to the International Space Station (ISS) and demonstrated that they can be differentiated into lab-grown meat in zero gravity conditions. The scientists at the ISS used a 3D bioprinting technique to culture and develop the stem cells into bovine muscle tissue, and the cells developed just like they have successfully done so on Earth. Astronauts are concerned with every gram of additional materials that they take on their voyages, and one of the main hurdles to long-term space exploration is the inability to pack enough resources to make longer trips.
Topics: lab grown meat
Researchers are using human dental pulp stem cells (DPSCs) to treat stress urinary incontinence (SUI), an involuntary bladder leakage due to an increase in pressure or damage to the urethral sphincter. Treatments for this condition typically target the symptoms rather than the cause of SUI. As this condition affects over 200 million people worldwide, developing a viable treatment option, as opposed to symptom control, will improve the quality of life of millions of people. Additionally, since this study utilizes human DPSCs, patients who have banked their dental stem cells will have access to this treatment option without the need to find a suitable donor match or assume the risk of rejection.
Topics: dental pulp stem cells
A patient diagnosed with both HIV and leukemia has undergone a revolutionary gene therapy combined with a stem cell transplant. The most common treatment for leukemia is radiation and chemotherapy to eliminate the patient’s malfunctioning blood cells, which are created in the bone marrow. Following radiation and chemo, patients typically receive intravenous infusions of healthy blood stem cells to re-establish healthy bone marrow. However, the researchers took this treatment one step further by editing the new stem cells to disrupt the effect of a gene called CCR5, which the HIV virus typically uses to infect immune cells. In doing so, the doctors tackled both the patient’s leukemia and HIV in one revolutionary therapy.
Researchers have determined that an autologous mesenchymal stem cell treatment for progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) is safe and effective. Mesenchymal stem cells [the same type of stem cells found in teeth] have been shown to help support neurons that are damaged by the immune system in patients with MS. Researchers at Hadassah University in Israel have successfully completed a clinical trial that tested the application of patients’ own cells to help repair and support neurons affected by MS. The trial involved obtaining stem cells from patients, culturing and multiplying them in the lab, and infusing them back either intravenously or by direct injection into the spinal cord.
Researchers at ETH Zurich have developed advanced CRISPR gene editing technology to modify an entire gene network in one shot. This is a significant step forward in correcting genetic disorders, as many genetic abnormalities and mutations that lead to palpable symptoms are controlled by several genes in various locations on the genome. The advance resulted from the use of a CRISPR enzyme called Cas12a, as opposed to Cas9, which is currently used for all gene editing done with the CRISP technology.