Researchers at the University of Plymouth Peninsula Dental School have discovered a new class of dental stem cells that could help regenerate teeth from within. The researchers studied rodents, who have constantly growing incisors and discovered a new class of mesenchymal stem cells, which use a genetic marker to communicate an injury and stimulate regeneration of the tooth. The gene in question was identified as Dlk1 and could offer insight into manipulating human dental pulp stem cells to regenerate teeth affected by decay and physical injury.
Researchers at University of California Irvine (UCI) have engineered mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) to locate metastases of cancer in bone and deliver targeted therapeutic factors that destroy the cancer but not the surrounding bone. The issue with conventional cancer treatments like chemotherapy is that although the treatment often successfully kill the cancer cells, they also severely damage the surrounding tissue, leading to a plethora of side effects. For this study, the researchers used MSCs that were genetically engineered to express surface proteins that are known to interact with cancer cells. Additionally, the stem cells expressed factors that prevent bone resorption, which would otherwise lead to bone loss following the cancer treatment.
Topics: stem cell cancer treatment
Researchers at University of Illinois Chicago are advancing 3D bio-printing by utilizing a gel to eliminate scaffold structures that model the shape of the organ or tissue being printed. The previous standard for 3D bio-printing involved creating a scaffold, typically from a biological polymer, and seeding it with stem cells that eventually differentiate and populate the structure to create the desired tissue. The challenge this technique poses is that the scaffold structure needs to be perfectly matched to the stem cells so that the scaffold degrades as the stem cells grow and differentiate into the desired structure. This new technique of 3D bio-printing by depositing the cells directly into a gel solves the problem of mismatched timing and should expedite and facilitate the printing of larger and more complex organs.
Researchers at the Wake Forest Institute have developed a gel that more precisely delivers therapeutic stem cell factors. A significant hurdle to successful stem cell therapies is the failure of stem cell injections to remain localized to the affected area. To address this problem, researchers designed a gel to be delivered to the affected area of the body to retain the therapeutic factors locally in order to maximize the efficacy of the treatments and provide a longer term solution.
The Belgian biotechnology company Promethera has been successfully administering a mesenchymal stem cell [MSC] therapy to treat severe liver disease - Acute-on-Chronic Liver Failure [ACLF], which was previously only treated with organ transplants. The treatment called HepaStem utilizes mesenchymal stem cells cultured from livers which, when delivered to the patient intravenously, release support and anti-inflammatory factors for existing liver cells. The company, after conducting Phase I studies to determine the safety of the treatment, is conducting Phase II clinical trials to identify optimal dosage parameters and measure treatment efficacy.
Researchers at UC Berkeley have been working on improving and scaling up and the printing of biomaterials with stem cells. They have developed a unique approach to ‘3D’ bioprinting by incorporating flash freezing into their process. They have improved on current techniques by printing layers of flat tissues [2D] and freezing them until they can be combined into a 3D structure. This technique was developed to overcome one of the major hurdles in scaling up 3D printing: the survival of the printed cells during the lengthy process of printing complex structures. By using 2D layers and flash freezing them before bringing them together to form a 3D organ or tissue structure, the new technique assures the survival of the cells throughout bigger, and more complex organs.
Researchers at Texas A&M University have created nanoparticles that could ameliorate and prolong the effects of stem cells on cartilage regeneration in osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is an affliction that results from the degradation of the cartilage between joints, which serves to lubricate and prevent friction between bones. Symptoms often include joint swelling and pain, and decreased range of motion, which causes the areas around the joints to well and solidify. A treatment for osteoarthritis is vital since aging populations show an increasing prevalence of the affliction, and a stem cell treatment could contribute to longer healthspans.
Researchers at Keio University in Tokyo have developed a method to generate platelets negating the need to obtain them from donated blood. Typically, platelets come from blood donations and have an extremely short shelf-life of 5 days. Platelets are vital to a great number and variety of medical procedures as they are responsible for clotting and can prevent patients from bleeding out from serious injuries or during surgeries. Additionally, platelets are difficult to match from donor to patient and donated platelets run the risk of rejection by the recipient. Creating a patient’s own platelets from their own stem cells would negate the need for a donor and virtually eliminate any possibility of rejection. Generating patient specific platelets would also alleviate the shortages that are typical of the current platelet recovery environment.
Biotech company, Aleph Farms, has recently developed the world’s first lab-grown steak developed from stem cells. In the last few years, huge strides have been made in the development ofculturing methodologies that mayenableresearchers and farmers to grow meat without the environmental consequences of livestock farming[while also addressing the fear of consuming antibiotic-raised livestock]. Since stem cell grown burgerswerecreated nearly 5 years ago, researchers have been working diligently to improve their stem cell differentiation techniques. Culturinga steak involvesthe replicationof complex muscular structures. Hence, a lab grown steak represents a significant advancement in differentiation technology and know-how.
Mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) injections have been successfully utilized in a pre-clinical study to treat blood vessel constriction due to atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a disease that occurs when the walls of the arteries become hardened and narrow, due to the damage caused by high blood pressure, smoking and excess cholesterol. This causes further complications, since atherosclerosis is the most common cause of heart attacks, strokes and other arterial diseases. In this study, stem cells’ anti-inflammatory properties in an animal model helped decrease the accumulation of immune cells in the arteries that contribute to plaques. MSC injections have shown to decrease atherosclerotic plaques by 30-40%.