A stem cell and tissue engineering therapy has been EU approved to treat patients with a rare, but devastating, eye condition called limbal stem cell deficiency (LSCD). This disorder stems from scar tissue formation, and often causes pain, which in turn leads to vision impairment and often blindness. LSCD can arise from chemical burns to the eye, which often occurs with people in the military and other dangerous lines of work. Since this disorder is rare, the treatment options are more limited than they would be for more commonplace conditions. Current conventional treatments involve placating the symptoms, accompanied by painful procedures to remove the scarring of corneal tissue in the eye, but until now, no effective cure has been available.
Topics: autologous stem cells
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 are utilizing vesicles secreted from dental stem cells to treat Parkinson’s Disease (PD). The study utilized these vesicles secreted by stem cells, as they are small and can easily cross the blood-brain barrier to deliver a treatment to the parts of the brain affected by PD. Parkinson’s is a neuro-degenerative disorder that affects the part of the brain that produces a neurotransmitter called dopamine, with symptoms expressing themselves as tremors and limb rigidity, among others. This study demonstrated, in an animal model, that intranasal administration of dental stem cell vesicles had a therapeutic effect by regulating the expression of proteins and preventing dopaminergic neuron death. The results showed a decrease in PD tremors and showed no adverse neurological effects over the progression of the study.
In a Phase II clinical trial, researchers are using autologous (the patients’ own) mesenchymal stem cells to treat Alzheimer’s disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) 5.7 million Americans are currently suffering from Alzheimer’s [with approximately 5.5 million over the age of 65 and approximately 220k under 65 experiencing early onset Alzheimer’s] with the number expected to triple by 2060. Additionally, the disease is one of the top 10 leading causes of death in U.S. adults; and while incidents of other common ailments like heart disease and cancer are decreasing, Alzheimer’s is on the rise.
Researchers at Duke University have utilized autologous (the patient’s own) stem cell infusions to promote increased connectivity in the brain that allowed for improved communication and language abilities in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The stem cells used in the trial were the patients’ own cord blood stem cells, which were banked at birth and played a key role in alleviating the symptoms of ASD in these patients. The Phase I Clinical Trial utilized the autologous stem cells in i.v. infusions that were meant to deliver the cells to the white matter, which is one of the brain tissues that differs developmentally between individuals with and without ASD. Additionally, the study targeted the neuroinflammation present in individuals with ASD.
Researchers at Texas A&M University are utilizing stem cell injections into the brain to alleviate the most common and severe case of seizures of Temporal Lobe Epilepsy (TLE) in an animal model. The experimental treatment resulted in 70% of the subjects experiencing a reduction in the number of seizures with researchers expecting the number to climb as the research advances. Current treatment of TLE involves treatment with medication [to which 40% of patients do not respond] or, invasive surgery. To eliminate this type of epilepsy, some patients have their entire hippocampus removed, which can lead to disastrous side effects impacting the patient’s mood and memory.
Luis Suarez, a star of FC Barcelona, will undergo a stem cell treatment to alleviate pain in his knee and prevent further injury. Suarez has been dealing with intermittent spurs of pain, and a traumatic crash during a recent match exacerbated his injury and may have sidelined him for several weeks. However, Suarez’s stem cell treatment should have him back on the field in approximately 2-week's-time.
The treatment involves recovering the patient’s own stem cells (in this case mesenchymal stem cells - the same type of stem cells found in teeth), concentrating them and injecting them into the site of the injury to accelerate healing, decrease inflammation and eliminate the need for surgical intervention.
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 case study utilizing a patient’s own stem cells to treat rheumatoid arthritis demonstrated a drastic decrease in joint pain and inflammation. Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) occurs when the immune system incorrectly attacks the body’s tissues, eventually leading to joint deformities, bone erosion and intense pain due to the breakdown of the lining of the joint. Typical treatments for RA involve anti-inflammatory medications, or surgery to repair the joints. However, both types of treatments involve severe side effects and are not guaranteed to work. The stem cell treatment sighted in the case study holds the potential to radically upend current practices and create a new standard of care for this widespread disorder.
Researchers at Hospital De San Jose in Colombia have utilized autologous (the patients’ own) stem cells to regenerate bone in children with cleft palates, greatly improving their quality of life by replacing an often arduous, surgically invasive procedure with a stem cell graft.The children partaking in the study were born with cleft palates, which typically require surgery and extensive grafting with bone from elsewhere in the body to create enough bone matter to support future teeth. When the children were born, their parents made the wise decision to bank their children’s powerful cord blood stem cells, which became vital to the success of this later treatment. This groundbreaking study used the patients’ own stem cells and a biological scaffold to allow the stem cells to grow into bone and fill the cleft. The ability to use autologous stem cells posed no risk of rejection to the patients, and in 5 and 10-year follow ups, the patients showed healthy bone development and experienced no adverse effects.