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10 Breakthroughs in Stem Cell Research

M3 India newsdesk May 08, 2017

The discoveries in the stem cell research revitalize various existing therapies. The ultimate goal of stem cell therapy is to create a personalized approach in treating and curing the disease. 





Unlike most of the other types of body cells, stem cells live longer and they can be altered into any of 200 human’s cell types. Apart from providing personalized therapies, the stem cells serve as new tools in the laboratory investigations. 
This article will help spot the recent advancements in the stem cell therapies that benefits while planning the appropriate treatment for various diseases. 


1. Regenerative approach to repair damaged cells


A novel stem cell therapy called Ixmyelocel-T has been shown to improve the quality of life in heart failure patients. This approach involves collecting the stem cells from the patient’s bone marrow and processing it to increase the number of beneficial stem cells. These newly grown stem cells are injected into the patient’s heart muscle replacing the damaged myocardial tissue. Thus, the stem cell therapy promotes heart health by increasing the number of functional heart muscle cells. 


2. Miracle Therapy That Promises To Repair Spinal Cord Injury


Scientists discovered a special type of neuronal cell derived from the stem cells can be used to repair the spinal cord injuries. The cells called V2a interneurons involved in transmitting the signals in the spinal cord that help control movement. Damage to these neurons can affect the muscle movement of limbs. There are many studies that involved neural progenitor cells derived from stem cells to transform into brain/spinal cord cells. A recent clinical study produced V2a interneurons from the stem cells. In the study, certain chemical cocktails are used to gradually coax the stem cells to develop V2a interneurons. Thus, the scientists discovered a recipe to create those interneurons that can restore the movement of the limbs due to spinal cord injury. 


3. Revivifying of Blood Vessels from Skin Cells 


There are many different ways to convert one type of cell to another. One of those methods is to turn a mature cell into pluripotent stem cell. These pluripotent stem cells have the ability to transform into any type of cells using chemical cocktails. In a recent study, the scientists discovered a novel approach using intermediate progenitor cells formed from skin cells can be turned to new blood vessel cells.  The study finds that depending on the levels of a gene transcription factor called SOX17, the efficiency of progenitor cells to blood cells can be determined. However, there is a need to truly evaluate the safety and efficacy of these cells for use in humans as this approach involves various complications.  


4. Turn-off Diabetes with Insulin Producing Cells 


As discussed, stem cells can be transformed to produce any type of human cell such as cardiac muscles, nerve cells, or even pancreatic islet cells. Currently, researchers are using the stem cells and stimulating them to develop into cells that produce insulin. These stem cells are extracted from healthy individuals and are multiplied in the laboratories to develop large number of islet cells that produce insulin. The initial studies performed using animal models have shown promising results. The stem cells therapy is considered as new hope for curing diabetes. 


5. A New Insight in the Treatment of Lung Disease


Stem cells could be the future treatment for various types of diseases. A study found that the stem cell therapy is effective in the management of the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In the study, the mesenchymal stem cells are delivered to the mouse models with induced COPD and revealed that there is a significant reduction of inflammation in the lungs. Furthermore, the mesenchymal stem cell therapy improved the lung structure which suggests that this approach is potential to repair damaged lungs. This study offers novel exciting implications of mesenchymal stem cells for the treatment of COPD as well as cystic fibrosis. 


6. Stem Cell Approach Holds Hope for Treating Erectile Dysfunction


The early results of a study revealed that stem cell therapy can be a promising treatment for the patients with erectile dysfunction. The stem cell therapy restores the sexual function in men and thus cures erectile dysfunction. The scientists extracted stem cells from the abdominal fat and injected into the corpus cavernosum of the penis. The study found that the patients were able to maintain normal sexual function for more than a year which indicates that this approach would confer for the long-term benefits. 


7. Novel Approach to Regain Hearing Loss


Experts developed a new approach of growing large number of human hair cells (present in the inner ear that detects sound) from stem cells to treat the patients with treating hearing loss. The study revealed that the newly grown cells can replace the damaged cells in the ear due to aging, toxic materials, and sound pollution. In the study, the researchers used a drug cocktail with the stem cells extracted from the cochlea of mouse and are multiplied. Scientists say that this therapy shows a promise in treating the patients with hearing loss. 


8. Rejuvenate a broken heart with skin cells 


Many of the current treatment modalities may not offer the required outputs or the patient may not respond to them. A recent study paved a novel approach for the treatment of damaged heart. Replacing the damaged heart tissue with an effective patch reestablishes the normal functioning of the heart. In the study, the cells derived from the skin are transformed to heart cells and these cells are printed into a tissue. This tissue is then placed onto the patient’s heart to repair the myocardial injury.     


9.  Body’s Master Cells to Generate Artificial Embryo 


Many clinical trials have attempted to use embryonic stem cells for growing embryo-like structures. But, those trials end-up with limited success. The current study uses a combination of embryonic stem cells and trophoblast stem cells along with a 3D-scaffold (extracellular matrix) to develop an embryo similar to the real thing. The study revealed that development pattern of artificial embryo resembles to that of normally-developing embryo. The study also gives a very close glimpse into the embryonic stages. This study might be a new approach that sheds light on identifying birth defects and maternal health. 


10. Reversal of Aging Process Using Stem Cells


A breakthrough in understanding the stem cells from human fat offers a pathway for the discovery of novel anti-aging therapies. Scientists are a step closer to develop a powerful weapon that fights against the aging process. In the study, the scientists collected stem cells from the adipose tissue and allowed to grow. They found that the cells divide rapidly and remains consistent with age. Currently, the stem cells extracted from different tissues are used in various anti-aging treatments. This study demonstrates that adipose-derived stem cells are more stable than the other types of stem cells. 


A growing number of health issues have intensified the search of novel treatment modalities. Stem cells have the capability to completely reestablish the body functionality. Newer studies are required for further demonstration of the beneficial effects of stem cells. 

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