January 17, 2014 - A new assessment tool is helping scientists determine which treatments might benefit patients with a type of eye disorder called limbal stem cell deficiency (LSCD). The tool, developed by researchers at University College London and Moorfields Eye Hospital in London and funded by the UK’s National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Centre at these institutions, has already shown that the majority of these patients can benefit in the short term from a stem cell transplantation and up to 30 percent are still experiencing better sight three years later, according to the study published in the current issue of STEM CELLS Translational Medicine.
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A new study released in STEM CELLS Translational Medicine indicates that stem cells can be effective in treating a debilitating and sometimes lethal genetic disorder called brittle bone disease.
Brittle bone disease, or osteogenesis imperfecta (OI), is characterized by fragile bones causing some patients to suffer hundreds of fractures over the course of a lifetime. In addition, according to the OI Foundation, other symptoms include muscle weakness, hearing loss, fatigue, joint laxity, curved bones, scoliosis, brittle teeth and short stature. Restrictive pulmonary disease occurs in the more severe cases. Currently there is no cure.
A new study released today in STEM CELLS Translational Medicine demonstrates that the therapeutic value of stem cells collected from fat declines when the cells come from older patients.
“This could restrict the effectiveness of autologous cell therapy using fat, or adipose-derived mesenchymal stromal cells (ADSCs), and require that we test cell material before use and develop ways to pretreat ADSCs from aged patients to enhance their therapeutic potential,” said Anastasia Efimenko, M.D., Ph.D. She and Nina Dzhoyashvili, M.D., were first authors of the study led by Yelena Parfyonova, M.D., D.Sc.,at Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow.
Generating new cardiac muscle from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and/or induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) could fulfill the demand for therapeutic applications and drug testing. The production of a similar population of these cells remains a major limitation, but in a study just published in STEM CELLS Translational Medicine, researchers now believe they have found a way to do this.
By combining small molecules and growth factors, the international research team led by investigators at the Cardiovascular Research Center at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai developed a two-step system that caused stem cells to differentiate into ventricular heart muscle cells from hESCs and iPSCs. The process resulted in high efficiency and reproducibility, in a manner that mimicked the developmental steps of normal cardiovascular development.
A new study appearing in STEM CELLS Translational Medicine (SCTM) demonstrates the potential of a subset of stem cell called CD34+ in treating hard to heal bone fractures.
While most patients recover from broken bones with little or no complication, up to 10 percent experience fractures that won’t heal. This can lead to a number of debilitating side effects, from infection to bone loss, and it can require extensive treatment involving multiple operations and prolonged hospitalization as well as long-term disability.
Regenerating broken bone using stem cells could offer an answer. Adult human peripheral blood CD34+ cells have been shown to contain an abundance of a type of stem cell called endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) as well as hematopoietic stem cells, which give rise to all types of blood cells. As such, they could be good candidates for this therapy.
A team of researchers from Gifu Pharmaceutical University and Gifu University in Japan has published results demonstrating that a type of protein found in stem cells taken from adipose (fat) tissue can reverse and prevent age-related, light-induced retinal damage in a mouse model, offering hope for those faced with permanent vision loss.
The research, published in the latest issue of STEM CELLS Translational Medicine, has determined that a single injection of adipose-derived stem cells (ASCs) reduced the retinal damage induced by light exposure in mice. Also, the study found that adipose-derived stem cells in conditioned medium inhibited the retinal damage by hydrogen peroxide and visible light both in the medium and in live mice.
Moreover the research revealed that a type of protein called progranulin found in the ASCs might be what plays the pivotal role in protecting against light-induced eye damage.
A stem cell therapy previously shown to reduce inflammation in the critical time window after traumatic brain injury also promotes lasting cognitive improvement, according to a pre-clinical study reported in the current issue of STEM CELLS Translational Medicine.
Cellular damage in the brain after traumatic injury can cause severe, ongoing neurological impairment and inflammation. Few pharmaceutical options exist to treat the problem. About half of patients with severe head injuries need surgery to remove or repair ruptured blood vessels or bruised brain tissue.
A stem cell treatment known as Multipotent Adult Progenitor Cell (MAPC®) therapy, has been found to reduce inflammation in rats immediately after traumatic brain injury, but no one had yet gauged its usefulness in promoting recovery of neurological function over time. Now, a group of scientists studying that question has come up with a preliminary answer.
Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs), including human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs), show great promise in regenerative medicine due to their ability to be “coaxed” into becoming different specific types of cells. These cells can then go on to help the body heal itself by replacing or repairing damaged or dead cells.
However, the current methods for inducing neural stem cells involve time-consuming, multiple labor-intensive steps that cannot be easily automated or made GMP (good manufacturing practice) compliant for clinical grade manufacture. In addition, not many of the neural stem cells produced this way can be expanded and coaxed into becoming different neural subtypes specific to the brain regions responsible for controlling different functions.
The team, from the University of Louisville’s Cardiovascular Innovation Institute (Louisville, Ky.), had previously shown in rat studies that stem cell treatment immediately following an attack aided recovery by improving blood flow in the smallest vessels of the heart. This time the goal was to determine if the treatment was still effective if applied later in time.
“We also were seeking a more efficient delivery method for the stem cells by utilizing the heart patch model. Most studies employing an injection of stem cells encounter swift cell death or cell washout from the target tissue,” said Amanda LeBlanc, Ph.D., who led the investigation along with Stuart Williams, Ph.D., the institute’s executive and scientific director.
MS is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by inflammation and scar-like lesions throughout the central nervous system (CNS). There is no cure and no treatment eases the severe forms of MS. But previous studies on animals have shown that transplantation of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) holds promise as a therapy for all forms of MS. The MSCs migrate to areas of damage, release trophic (cell growth) factors and exert neuroprotective and immunomodulatory effects to inhibit T cell proliferation.
MS-related clinical trials have all confirmed the safety of autologous MSC therapy. However what is unclear is whether MSCs derived from older donors have the same therapeutic potential as those from younger ones.