Researchers at the Andrews Institute for Orthopedics and Sports Medicine are working on a breakthrough clinical trial that could soon bring FDA approval for stem cell knee cartilage repair that’s already available in other countries. Dr. Khay Yong Saw, from Kuala Lumpur, has developed this effective treatment to inject autologous (the patient’s own) stem cells into the deteriorated cartilage to restore its previous durability and function. He is now supervising the process in hopes that his methods can be adapted in an FDA approved treatment. The treatment has the potential to replace invasive surgical procedures that require months in postoperative recovery, and could even utilize mesenchymal stem cells (the same ones found in teeth) given their known properties of differentiating into cartilage tissue. This treatment has already shown promise with over 700 patients in Malaysia in the last 5 years.
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 the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital are one step closer to reducing organ donor shortages by creating self-organizing human liver tissues. Utilizing innovative genetic sequencing observed in a 3D microenvironment, researchers identified the transcription factors responsible for the signal that causes stem cells to differentiate into liver tissue. This sequence of genes enabled them to program lab-grown liver cells that both genetically, and functionally, closely resemble actual developing liver cells.
Dr. Valery Krizhanovsky at the Weizmann Institute of Science has built on the work of previous researchers in order to identify the role of senescent cells in age-related ailments, such as cancers, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s and others. He explains that senescent cells accumulate in the body, do not follow the stable cell cycle and cease to divide. However, despite the body’s mechanisms for apoptosis, or programmed cell death, these aged cells do not self-destruct. Using stem cells to grow human tissue in the lab, Krizhanovsky is able to accurately determine the behavior of senescent cells in humans, rather than making observations solely based on animal subjects.
Scientists at the University of California San Francisco have recently found that a majority of the body’s megakaryocytes, which produce platelets, are actually working in the lungs to produce blood, and the lungs also contain and synthesize mesenchymal stem cells that can replace those of the bone marrow when necessary. When the stem cells typically working in the lungs were administered to mice with low platelet levels, or where blood-producing stem cells in the lungs were not present, the stem cells from the working lungs assumed the responsibility of the stem cells that normally carry out this process.
Indiana University’s School of Medicine, spearheading the efforts of over forty researchers in the U.S. and South Korea, has determined that electro acupuncture can be utilized to induce the release of reparative mesenchymal stem cells, which have healing effects when released into the bloodstream. The electric current that is passed through during acupuncture hastens the communication between the stimulus point on the body and the neurons in the spinal cord. This activates the hypothalamus and directs stem cells to an area of injury or stress, promoting collagen production and tendon repair, both linked to expedited healing times.
A team of researchers from the Dental Institute at King’s College London has developed a natural approach to repair damaged teeth. Current methods include fillings and cement, which disrupt the normal mineral level of the tooth and can lead to infection. The new approach utilizes a collagen sponge infused with glycogen synthase kinase (GSK-3) to stimulate the stem cells in the pulp of the tooth to regenerate dentin and repair the tooth naturally. The collagen sponge degrades over time and is replaced by the naturally regenerated dentin. Lead author of the study, Professor Paul Sharpe, from King's College London states, "The simplicity of our approach makes it ideal as a clinical dental product for the natural treatment of large cavities, by providing both pulp protection and restoring dentine.”
California’s Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) has announced the completion of patient enrollment in a study testing a stem cell derived therapy for retinitis pigmentosa (RP) patients. The treatment involves injecting human retinal progenitor cells into the damaged area of the retina to improve vision. These progenitor cells could either replace the damaged photoreceptors in the eye, or prevent them from being destroyed.
Professor Paul Mozdziak and his team at North Carolina State University are growing turkey breast meat from stem cells. By manipulating stem cells into muscle fibers and cultivating them in a “warm broth” of amino acids and glucose, the cells are able to grow into turkey meat. The stem cells are activated to produce protein and fat cells, which add flavor and succulence to the meat, making it very similar to traditional meat.
Dr. Michael Helmrath, MD and Jim Wells, PhD of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center announced a significant advance in the differentiation of pluripotent stem cells into intestinal tissue with functional nerves. This milestone will enable the use of the cultured intestinal tissue to be used, in the short term, for drug testing and, in the longer term, for the development of regenerative treatments to address a myriad of intestinal disorders such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Intestinal Cancers and Hirschsprung’s disease.