Emerging stem cell therapies to treat a variety of disease, trauma, and injury are gaining momentum as research advances and support from patients and healthcare providersaccelerates . Developments in the understanding and utilization of stem cells is leading to a greater number of FDA approved clinical trials and catapulting regenerative medicine to the forefront of the medical field today.
In a recent Phase I clinical study, a collaboration of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, the EMMES Corporation and Johns Hopkins University, researchers sought to regenerate heart tissue that is functionally compromised and typically scarred as a result of a heart attack. More specifically, the treatment involves the extraction of the stem cells from the patients, the in vitro [in the lab] expansion of the stem cells and the transplantation of the stem cells back into the patient. The success of this early stage study should lead the way to larger larger studies.
Stroke is the third largest cause of death and the single largest cause of adult disability in the developed world. The University of Glasgow and ReNeuron are advancing their clinical trial for stroke patients using neuronal stem cells. Approved by the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the procedure involves expanding the stem cells in-vitro [to clinically relevant numbers] and then transplanting them into the individual. Professor Keith Muir, principal investigator in the trial, said: “We are very pleased that the trial is progressing well and that all the patients treated so far have shown no adverse effects.”
Doctors at JK Plastic Surgery Center in Seoul were able to succesfully treat a burn victim by injecting cultivated adult stem cells into her scars, facilitating tissue regeneration and repairing the damaged skin.
A recent study conducted by Cornell and University of Bonn researchers reveals that stem cell viability and utility appears to decrease with age. In the trial, a two-day-old mouse that suffers an induced heart attack recovers by actively releasing stem cells which then grow into new heart cells, effectively repairing the heart. In full grown mice, however, the same release of stem cells does not occur. As a result, the mice suffered the common after-effects of scar tissue and permanent tissue damage leading to life-threatening arrhythmias.
Researchers at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry and the Michigan Center for Oral Health Research found that using autologous (a patient’s own) stem cells to regenerate craniofacial tissues—mainly bone—proved to be faster, more effective and less invasive than other forms of regenerative treatment.
Investment in regenerative medicine continues to grow, according to recent statistics. The current projected global market is stated to be as much as $113 billion by 2013.
Many companies, such as Orbsen Therapeutics, are focusing on this rapidly expanding market. According to CEO Brian Molloy, a key factor is the success researchers are having utilizing adult stem cells to reduce inflammation, promote healing, and aid in the repair and regeneration of many types of tissue. Like many companies working with stem cells, Orbsen is collaborating with researchers across Europe and the US to further this research and develop stem cell based therapies.
Tissue engineers at Johns Hopkins University have successfully utilized tiny fiber scaffolds to aid stem cells in developing into the shock-absorbing cartilage that exists around elbows and knees. The researchers believe the results hold promise for devising new techniques to help the millions of Americans who currently suffer from joint pain.