Doctors from the Melbourne Stem Cell Center are using stem cells to regrow damaged knee cartilage. Over 70 patients have had their own isolated and expanded mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) injected into their own knee joints. In initial results, half of those treated at Melbourne Stem Cell Center saw a three-quarters reduction in pain and vastly improved knee function.
A new method of stem cell harvesting was developed by a group of Australian researchers. The technique is less invasive than current methods and reduces unwanted side effects. Existing harvesting procedures are lengthy and require injections of growth factors to boost stem cell numbers. Growth factors can cause unpleasant side effects like bone pain and spleen enlargement for some patients while other patients don’t respond well impacting stem cell recovery.
The American Academy of Pain Medicine has recognized mesenchymal stem cell [MSC] treatments as a viable method to block opioid-induced tolerance. The Academy cites a study done by the Cleveland Clinic in which the development of opioid tolerance was effectively prevented by either intravenous or intrathecal MSCs. Furthermore, established opioid tolerance was reversed when the timing of the transplants followed repeated morphine injections.
Osteoarthritis is the most common chronic condition of the joints, occurring most often in the knees, hips, lower back, and neck. There are approximately 54 million patients in the U.S., of which some 760,000 patients undergo surgery costing an average $33,706, according to the U.S. Center of Disease Control and Prevention. One biotechnology company is combating this problem by utilizing autologous [the patient’s own] stem cells.
Biomedical engineers from the University of California, San Diego have created a stem cell based tissue that mimics the human liver. This model could be used for patient-specific drug screening and disease modeling. The complex micro-architecture of a liver utilized a hexagonal pattern of stem cells and human liver tissue. Autologous stem cells were taken from the patient’s own skin cells to act as supporting cells. Because the method used 3D printing, the entire structure—a 3 × 3 millimeter square, 200 micrometers thick—takes just seconds to print on demand.
Researchers from the University of Miami have discovered that injections of cardiac stem cells and mesenchymal stem cells can radically improve cardiac performance following a heart attack. The combination of both cell types is thought to provide a stronger and more effective treatment for patients with heart failure.
Osteoporosis, a chronic and life-threatening degenerative disease, affects more 200 million globally, and with a growing population of aging adults projected to live longer lives than in generations past, the issue of preserving and protecting skeletal bone integrity will likely become increasingly important. A group of researchers from the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center have examined the relationship of therapeutic stem cell therapies in the complex endocrine system of animals with vertebral fractures, who received daily injections of parathyroid hormone(PTH) and stem cells for 21 days. The authors hypothesize that the combination of approaches enhanced the stem cell’s migration to damaged bone areas.
"We have known that used separately, both the stem cells and the hormone each have an effect on the healing process involved in bone fractures," said Dan Gazit, DMD, PhD, co-director of the Skeletal Regeneration and Stem Cell Therapy Program in the Department of Surgery and Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors Regenerative Medicine Institute. "Now, we have learned that the stem cells and PTH much stronger combined than they are separately."
Veterinary researchers have used stem cells to cure a cat of chronic gingivostomatitis (FCGS), a painful oral disease. The technique involved extracting autologous mesenchymal stem cells, processing and characterizing them, and intravenously injecting them into the cats to reduce inflammation and promote tissue regeneration.
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive, degenerative disorder of the nervous system that affects more than 60,000 Americans each year. A group of researchers from Yonsei University in South Korea has discovered that the protection of nervous tissue may be facilitated by stem cells. Animals with Parkinson’s were injected with human mesenchymal stem cells. The treatment improved the animals’ cognitive behavior and suppressed alpha-synuclein, a toxic protein in the brain.
A group of researchers investigated the effectiveness of mesenchymal stem cells for several age-related neurodegenerative disorders. The team implanted the stem cells in a group of 14 patients aged between 30 and 75, including four subjects who had completely gray hair. During their investigation, they made an unusual discovery. After six weeks of stem cell implantation, the reversal of graying hair was observed for both scalp and beard hair.