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.
Researchers in Korea are conducting clinical trials utilizing autologous [the patient’s own] stem cells to repair rotator cuff damage. The patients participating in the study sustained a partial thickness rotator cuff tear, which caused chronic shoulder pain and would otherwise require surgical intervention. Typically, rotator cuff tears are treated with nonsurgical methods, such as corticosteroid injections, physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medication. However, these treatments leave nearly half of the patients with chronic pain.
Researchers at the Salk Institute have developed a method to reprogram stem cells in skin ulcers and sores to differentiate into epithelial (skin) cells. The treatment advance has the potential to revolutionize treatment options for patients suffering from chronic skin conditions such as epidermolysis bullosa, ulcers and sores due to diabetes, bedsores and severe burns. Typically, there is an abundance of stem cells at the site of wounds such as ulcers. However, the stem cells prioritize dealing with inflammation and infection over the regeneration of skin tissue. The researchers sought to reprogram wound-resident mesenchymal stem cells in vivo [inside the body] by applying transduction factors, which directed the stem cells to generate skin tissue. Hence, the treatment is designed to generate new skin at the site of the wound as opposed to the current approach of utilizing a skin graft.
Researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital are advancing Alzheimer’s research by creating lab grown models of affected neurons, which will allow for a vastly improved and nuanced understanding of the inner-workings of Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is a neurological disorder that is difficult to diagnose and currently, can only be confirmed during a post-mortem autopsy, which usually reveals the neural inflammation that is believed to be the cause of most of the symptoms leading to the ultimate loss of memory and basic skills. Using stem cells, the researchers were able to grow neurons that exhibit both neuroinflammation and the indicative tangles and plaques of Alzheimer’s. This major breakthrough should enable the development of more targeted, effective treatments - and possibly a cure for Alzheimer’s, which currently affects millions of people worldwide and has no effective treatment options.
Researchers at Novoheart have created functional mini heart organoids, which are the first of their kind to contain chambers, like those found in fully grown human hearts. This advancement in stem cell engineering will expedite drug trials, which could bring potential cures to those who need them much sooner. Typically, new drugs take many years and require exorbitant resources to bring them to market, but Novoheart’s mini heart organoids look to disrupt the status quo and speed up the development of treatment options. Since these hearts have tissues differentiated from adult stem cells, the organoids behave and react to treatments like real hearts would, which allows researchers to detect and eliminate detrimental side effects long before reaching clinical trials. Additionally, the heart organoids can be used to understand cardiovascular diseases, which affect millions of people around the world.