In a recent clinical study conducted in Beijing, researchers are testing a treatment for patients suffering from systemic lupus erythematosus by administering autologous [the patient’s own] mesenchymal stem cells. The researchers aim to capitalize on the unique abilities of MSCs to not only differentiate into a multitude of different cell types, but to reduce the autoimmune attack in patients affected by lupus as well.
Researchers led by Dr. Habib Zaghouani from the University of Missouri have developed a potential cure to Type 1 Diabetes by utilizing mesenchymal stem cells [MSCs]. Although researchers anticipated that the MSCs would differentiate into new insulin producing pancreatic beta cells, they discovered that the stem cells fulfilled the more critical function of repairing damaged blood vessels, which in turn facilitated the regeneration of insulin producing pancreatic beta cells and the distribution of insulin across the body.
As reported in a recent article in the New York Times, researchers from the National Cancer Institute have developed an immune system treatment for a woman afflicted with cholangiocarcinoma (bile-duct cancer) utilizing her own stem cells. The scientists, led by Dr. Steven A Rosenberg, identified T-cells in the woman’s immune system that specifically attacked the cancerous cells in her body. They then used her stem cells to grow billions of these T-cells in a laboratory, and then infused the T-cells back into her bloodstream. After 18 months of the treatment, known as adoptive cell therapy, the woman experienced considerable reduction of tumor size and quantity.
A research team led by Doctor Alexander Seifalian at University College London is currently creating custom lab-grown organs and body parts for patients utilizing autologous [the patient’s own] stem cells. The scientists have engineered a polymer material that they mold into the shape of an organ in need, infuse with the patient’s stem cells, and then transplant back onto the patient’s body.
Researchers all around the world are working towards utilizing stem cells to grow replacement organs. While once thought to be a futuristic concept, it is now very real. Doctors and researchers have successfully transplanted lab grown bladders, blood vessels, tear ducts, arteries and windpipes. Now, research teams around the world are growing urethras, bile ducts, larynxes, bones, livers, kidneys, and even hearts.