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.
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 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 University of Granada Bio Health Institute in Spain are studying the application of mesenchymal stem cells from different sources, including dental pulp stem cells (DPSCs), to create more effective skin grafts for patients suffering from a variety of disfiguring afflictions. In addition to the DPSCs,bone marrow stem cells (BMSCs), adipose derived stem cells (ADSCs) and Wharton’s Jelly stem cells (WJSCs), were successfully differentiated into epithelial (skin) cells in vivo, that is - in an animal model. Additionally, DPSCs were demonstrated to be some of the most effective sources of cells for this particular type of treatment.
Researchers in China are working in collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania to improve on a previous protocol utilizing stem cells from baby teeth to restore damaged permanent teeth. After conducting a follow-up study on 30 new patients with damaged teeth, results confirmed the regeneration of pulp over the course of three years, demonstrating the safety and efficacy of the treatment.
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.
A Phase II clinical trial is currently underway to evaluate the efficacy of retinal progenitor cells in treating a retinitis pigmentosa that causes visual impairment and, in severe cases, blindness. In an earlier clinical trial, the stem cells were used to create new photo receptors, with patients reporting improvements in vision. In follow-ups conducted between 18 days and 2 months following treatment, patients were able to read three additional lines in a standard eye test chart.
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
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society is contributing over 1 million dollars to a Phase II clinical trial that utilizes autologous (the patient’s own) mesenchymal stem cells to treat Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Mesenchymal stem cells were selected for this treatment based on their ability to differentiate into neural progenitor cells, which can serve to repair the damaged neurons that result from MS. The cells are recovered from the patient, then expanded and cultured to differentiate into neural cells in clinically significant numbers.
A second patient has been cured of HIV following a stem cell transplant. It is estimated that nearly 40 million individuals are presently living with HIV around the world. Currently, the standard of care involves treating patients with anti-retroviral drugs, which keep the virus from spreading to healthy cells in the body. However, there have now been two case studies where patients received a stem cell transplant that completely eradicated the virus from the body. The stem cells came from donors with a mutation in the gene that the HIV virus normally uses to gain access to the body’s immune cells and destroy them. The mutation prevented the virus from penetrating the newly transplanted stem cells thus enabling the patients to re-established a healthy immune system.