In a clinical trial conducted at Augusta University Medical College of Georgia, doctors have found that autologous [the patients’ own] stem cell injections can restore estrogen levels in the ovaries, the lack of which contributes to Premature Ovarian Failure (POF). Patients who received the injections saw an increase in estrogen levels in 3 months following the injections and, in 6 months, resumed regular menstruation cycles, which had ceased due to premature menopause. POF primarily affects women under 40 and causes the ovaries to cease their normal functions, leading to premature menopause, and rendering the women incapable of conceiving a child. The procedure involves the collection of the patients’ own stem cells, which are then isolated and re-introduced into the body to rejuvenate the prematurely aged ovaries. The study uses a minimally invasive treatment to inject the stem cells into one ovary, leaving the other untreated as a control. Through ultrasound imaging, the treated ovary has increased in size compared to the control, signifying a restoration in normal ovarian function.
Families choosing to bank their stem cells – usually in the form of cord blood and/or dental pulp stem cells, typically view their decision as “biological insurance.” A Phase II clinical trial is investigating the safety and efficacy of autologous [the patient’s own] cord blood stem cells to treat children with behavioral and social difficulties associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). In a clear demonstration of the value of banking your own stem cells, only families that chose to bank their children’s cord blood were qualified to participate in the study.
A clinical trial has shown that autologous [the patient’s own] stem cell infusions can accelerate improvements in motor function of children with cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy occurs when the brain is damaged either before or during birth and has varying levels of severity, but in all cases, affects movement and speech. CP children typically receive physical and occupational therapy and will make subtle improvements with age, as their bodies develop. In the double blind clinical trial in which some children were given a placebo and others were given varying amounts of stem cells, those who received approximately 25 million cells per kilogram of body weight showed substantial improvement in motor skills when tested a year following the treatment. The improvement was significant when compared to the expected normal yearly improvement CP children typically make, and was also greater than that of the children who received the smaller dosage. In the next phase of the clinical trial, researchers seek to determine whether continuous stem cell infusions could improve motor function even more significantly.
Researchers at the University of California Irvine, in collaboration with the Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology, have found that consuming a low-calorie diet can prompt the body’s stem cells to remain active and repair age-related wear and tear more efficiently. A low-calorie intake has shown to maintain a youthful circadian rhythm, or biological clock, which is known to regulate and direct stem cell function toward either maintaining homeostasis (equilibrium in the body) or active repair. As we age, our bodies allocate stem cells for various purposes and these cells lose their potency from lack of action, but the reduction in caloric intake reinvigorates these stem cells. In an animal model, researchers found that older stem cells use energy less efficiently compared to younger cells. However, reducing the caloric intake allowed the older cells to reset their biological rhythm, which allowed them to process energy as efficiently as younger cells and regain their youthful potency to make repairs, rather than just maintain the body.
Billionaires Bill Gates and Steve Branson have joined Cargill [one of the largest agricultural companies in the world] in investing in Memphis Meats, which has been working to bring accessible, ethical and cruelty free meat to the market. Memphis Meats has successfully grown beef, chicken and duck meat from the animals’ stem cells, providing the same taste and nutrition without any harm to animals. By programming the cells to become muscle tissue, the company has been able to create lab-grown meat with all the biological components of real meat. The cultured meat is said to look and taste exactly like the real deal, but could be even more salubrious for consumption, given that it bypasses the hormones and the unhealthy diets that livestock is often fed.
Researchers at the University of Chicago have developed a skin graft utilizing engineered stem cells that can trigger the release of insulin and successfully regulate blood sugar levels, as well as prevent weight gain when consuming a high-fat diet. This revolutionary treatment could eliminate the pain and discomfort from current methods of monitoring and regulating blood sugar through injections. The stem cells in the graft were engineered, with the use of CRISPR, to release a hormone that mimics glucagon (called GLP-1) and trigger the pancreas to release insulin. GLP-1 is also shown to combat obesity due to its appetite suppressing properties. The engineered stem cells formed into a layer of skin tissue and were applied to the subjects. In animal models, 80% of the diabetic mice receiving the engineered skin graft exhibited the release of insulin following food consumption resulting in lower blood glucose levels and reduced body weight.
Researchers for Stem Cell Biology at the University of Southern California are analyzing a precursory treatment for injuries utilizing stem cells in the blood. When an injury occurs in the body, idle cells in the blood are alerted to respond. After the injury occurs, a hepatocyte growth factor activator (HGFA) is shown to alert blood stem cells all over the body to respond and make the repairs, accelerating the healing process. By alerting these stem cells prior to injury, stem cell treatments could anticipate injuries and heal them more quickly in people who are in injury-prone professions.
Researchers at South Korea’s Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology have developed a new scaffolding technique that speeds up stem cell differentiation for bone formation. Utilizing carbon nitride sheets infused with stem cells, the researchers were able to regenerate bone. The carbon nitride sheets possessed photocatalytic properties, which facilitated bone growth. This study marks an important advancement in treatments for bone fractures and periodontal disease.
Professor Lars Nielson and his team at the University of Queensland’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology are utilizing stem cells to develop a treatment for patients at risk for chemotherapy-induced neutropenia (CIN). Neutropenia is caused by the lack of white blood cells. By differentiating stem cells into white blood cells, the treatment reduces the ‘risk’ period of infection and fever following chemotherapy.
Dr. Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic [a member of StemSave’s Scientific Advisory Council] and her colleagues at Columbia University have created living jaw bone from stem cells paving the way for regenerative therapies in facial reconstruction. Using a CT scan to create a 3D image of each jaw, the team created a scaffold that, when infused with stem cells, formed new bone identical to the original.