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 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.
Doctors at the Andrews Institute in Florida are utilizing autologous [the patient’s own] stem cells to repair a meniscus tear with the aim of returning the patient to his normal levels of physical activity. Typically, surgery is often the most viable option with this type of injury, but it has several downsides, including a longer recovery time and the possibility for more surgeries in the future. With meniscal tears, doctors often remove the meniscus entirely, which may eventually require a full knee replacement. The autologous stem cell treatment, used alone, or in conjunction with surgery, could fully repair a tear or accelerate healing after a surgery.
In a sign of the growing awareness of stem cells and their impact on medical treatments, UK citizens have signed a petition advocating for their Parliament to allow people to receive time off work in order to make stem cell donations. Thousands of patients worldwide await stem cell treatments due to the severe lack of stem cell donors, and although many people want to donate, they find themselves hesitating in fear of missing work.
Topics: stem cell treatment
Researchers, led by Dr. Bing Wang, Professor in the Department of General Surgery at Shanghai Ninth People's Hospital and Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine in Shanghai, China, are utilizing mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) to treat obesity and type II diabetes, two of the most significant healthcare concerns for adults worldwide. This study explored the use of MSCs (the same type of stem cells found in teeth) to treat the inflammation due to obesity that often causes or exacerbates the insulin resistance in type II diabetes. In an animal model, the stem cells were used to to restore metabolic balance and mitigate insulin resistance that arises when high blood glucose levels persist for extended periods of time. The stem cells, known for their anti-inflammatory properties, also expressed a growth factor called neuregulin 4, which is known to effectively combat the effects of obesity.
Researchers are working to improve 3D printing by overcoming hurdles that decrease printing efficiency, particularly with larger structures. A joint effort of several universities yielded a technique that improves the vascularization (formation of blood vessels) in printed tissues by utilizing food dye. The technique allows researchers to label and track where the blood vessels and other functional structures would be located in the organs, improving the survival of the printed structures thereby overcoming a major hurdle [survival] of 3D tissue printing. This is particularly important in organs like lungs, where different, overlapping vessels are required for the transport of blood and oxygen, with the dye helping to distinguish between them.
Researchers at the University of Bristol, led by Dr. Adam Perriman, have hypothesized that using stem cells that are “welded together” may be the key to healing chronic wounds that often result from diabetes and other afflictions. The research involves using mesenchymal stem cells (the same type of stem cells found in teeth) and modifying their membranes so that the cells adhere to one another.
Australia’s Federal Health Minister has just announced the establishment of the Australian Stem Cell Therapies Mission [with initial funding of 150 million AUD], which strives to put the country at the forefront of medical progress. The Minister has stated that the country’s commitment to invest in creating autologous treatments [utilizing the patients' own stem cells] to effectively treat Parkinson’s, dementia, spinal cord injuries and other previously incurable diseases and injuries, over the course of 10 years. Additionally, the promise of tailoring treatments to each patient with autologous cells could create more effective options compared to standardized medicine.
Topics: stem cell research
In a Phase II clinical trial, researchers are using autologous (the patients’ own) mesenchymal stem cells to treat Alzheimer’s disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) 5.7 million Americans are currently suffering from Alzheimer’s [with approximately 5.5 million over the age of 65 and approximately 220k under 65 experiencing early onset Alzheimer’s] with the number expected to triple by 2060. Additionally, the disease is one of the top 10 leading causes of death in U.S. adults; and while incidents of other common ailments like heart disease and cancer are decreasing, Alzheimer’s is on the rise.
Researchers at Texas A&M University are utilizing stem cell injections into the brain to alleviate the most common and severe case of seizures of Temporal Lobe Epilepsy (TLE) in an animal model. The experimental treatment resulted in 70% of the subjects experiencing a reduction in the number of seizures with researchers expecting the number to climb as the research advances. Current treatment of TLE involves treatment with medication [to which 40% of patients do not respond] or, invasive surgery. To eliminate this type of epilepsy, some patients have their entire hippocampus removed, which can lead to disastrous side effects impacting the patient’s mood and memory.