Researchers at the Mayo Clinic are using autologous (the patients’ own) stem cells to treat a rare congenital heart defect. For infants born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, the first few months of life are a complicated battle that involves several reconstructive surgeries that repair the underdeveloped left portion of the heart and help the right side maintain the increased load. The infants are participating in a Phase I clinical trial after being diagnosed with the syndrome before birth. At birth, the researchers obtained the patients’ cord blood stem cells and cryopreserved them until the second reconstructive operation of the heart, which typically follows a few months after birth. The researchers injected the patients’ stem cells into the affected site of the heart to support and strengthen the weakened cardiac muscle in the area.
Topics: banking stem cells
Researchers at Columbia University are using scaffolds and stem cells to grow hair follicles in the lab for the first time. Currently, people suffering from hair loss have to resort to transplanting fully grown hair follicles from another area of the body in order to restore hair growth. Though this process has been refined over time, it still requires a painful extraction process and poses certain risks. The new method utilizes a 3D printed scaffold structure that mimics the micro environment of hair follicles, improving hair growth and maximizing the efficiency of the transplants. Additionally, researchers are using a new combination of growth factors that effectively stimulate hair growth by suppressing factors that keep hair follicles dormant and therefore lead to baldness.
Researchers at North Carolina State University, led by Assoc. Prof. Rohan Shirwaiker, have created a method to “herd” stem cells into desired structures using a biological 3D printer to create specialized structures more easily, overcoming one of the major hurdles in biological 3D printing. While researchers rely on biological scaffolds to help the stem cells differentiate into a particular organ or tissue, this new technique gives the researchers more control in guiding the cells into the desired structure.
Researchers at the American Chemical Society (ACS) have developed a biopolymer that would be implanted into an affected gum line to recruit stem cells and restore the damage caused by periodontal disease. With the Centers for Disease Control predicting that nearly half of all Americans will be affected by periodontal disease during their lifetimes, the new regenerative treatment technique would save healthy teeth, avoid prolonged and costly treatments and provide dentists with a more effective and less invasive treatment option for their patients.
Advances in dental pulp stem cell [DPSC] research and treatment are making it more pertinent than ever to participate in stem cell banking. Dentistry Today writes, “Most of the body’s stem cells are difficult to extract, found in fewer numbers, buried deep in tissues adjacent to similar-looking surrounding cells. But stem cells found in teeth are numerous and readily extracted. What’s more, dental stem cells appear to be among the fastest replicating stem cells discovered to date.”
Researchers at the Salk Institute have used stem cells to understand the changes in neural development for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This study has uncovered the first measurable changes in neuronal development of individuals with ASD, which is a major step toward understanding the disorder and ameliorating current therapies. The research found that by allowing the stem cells to differentiate into neurons, several developmental steps differed in cells from individuals with ASD compared to the control group. This led researchers to the conclusion that changes occur much earlier in neuronal development, since cells from individuals with ASD turn on their genes for neuronal development much earlier and the neurons grew faster compared to controls.
BrainStorm Cell Therapuetics is currently launching a Phase II clinical trial utilizing mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) that are cultured to develop into neurological components able to treat progressive multiple sclerosis (MS). The proprietary technology called NurOwn uses a patient’s own (autologous) MSCs that are modified outside of the body and returned to repair and support neurons that are attacked in patients with MS. The stem cells are modified to produce growth factors, which support neurons and enhance differentiation and survival of neural cells.
A study cited in the Journal of Medical Cases has demonstrated successful results utilizing autologous (the patient’s own) stem cells to repair a torn meniscus without surgical intervention. Meniscal injuries are the most frequent knee injuries, and they are particularly common in athletes, but can also occur due to aging. Typically, meniscal tears are treated with surgical intervention, which requires “stitches” meant to hold the tear together until it heals, or cutting out the torn part entirely. The surgical intervention method, though safe, requires extensive physical therapy to strengthen supporting muscles, as well as weeks of recovery time on crutches. Imaging of a tear following a stem cell therapy showed that 9 months after a stem cell injection, the tear healed to the point where it was virtually unnoticeable.
A major obstacle to successful bone marrow transplants (BMT) is rejection due to the age discrepancy of the donor and recipient, with older donors presenting problems due to the donor stem cells’ loss of efficacy with age. The older stem cells’ compromised ability to actively regenerate (given that older stem cells are less active than younger stem cells) increases the risk of age-related rejection significantly. In a groundbreaking study, researchers have discovered that the in-vitro (outside the body) introduction of young mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) to aged donor hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) used for transplants resulted in the rejuvenation of the donor cells likely improving the efficacy of the transplant.
In several clinical and animal studies, researchers are utilizing mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) to treat Type II Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM). Type 2 Diabetes affects approximately 415 million people worldwide, with diabetes mellitus (DM) further exacerbating diabetes’ adverse health effects. Symptoms of DM are caused by both a lack of insulin, as-well-as an intolerance to the scarce amount of insulin that is produced by the pancreatic islet cells. DM is typically a precursor to ischemic heart disease, stroke, blindness and chronic kidney disease with no effective treatments currently available to prevent these complications. With previous treatments using donated organs and insulin producing cells proving unsuccessful, MSCs are emerging as an extremely effective tool to restore normal function to the pancreatic islet cells and alleviate the other symptoms of DM. MSCs (the same type of stem cells that are found in teeth) not only normalize natural insulin levels, but also help ameliorate insulin resistance in the body’s tissues by creating a favorable microenvironment.