Although we understand stem cell’s role in the body, the subtleties of extracellular communication remain a difficult system to analyze. An international group of researchers has recently discovered an intricate cell-to-cell communications system used by stem cells. The findings will help scientists develop new stem cell-based treatment options for peripheral artery disease, a condition which affects about 12 million people in the United States alone.
According to new research from the National Yang-Ming University, mesenchymal stem cells [MSCs] hold the ability to limit atherosclerotic plaque formation, thereby preventing the onset of harmful endothelial lesions. The research team, led by Shih-Chieh Hung, transplanted MSCs into animal models with atherosclerosis and observed significant reduction in plaque formation. They also saw an increase in blood vessel dilation, which prevents further plaque development, indicating good endothelial health.
Researchers from the Indiana University School of Medicine have developed a potential therapy for peripheral artery disease by transplanting autologous [the patient’s own] stem cells. In an animal model, the transplanted stem cells differentiated into new blood vessels, which then restored blood flow to damaged tissues in the body.
University Hospital’s Case Medical Center researchers are to begin evaluating the ability of the patient’s own stem cells [autologous stem cells] to prevent leg amputations in peripheral arterial disease. PAD effects more than 5 million adults in the US alone. Dr. Vik Kashyap, the leading researcher, explained, "This trial offers an opportunity to save a patient's leg when there are no remaining options to improve blood supply.”