Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine – Dr. Kraft of Singularity University

Dr. Daniel Kraft, of Singularity University and FutureMed, provides a comprehensive review of the history, current state and future of stem cells and regenerative medicine.

The Future of Regenerative Medicine is Now™

Mesenchymal Stem Cells [MSC] Promote Nerve Regeneration


Researchers at Johns Hopkins University, Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery find that mesenchymal stem cells [the type of stem cells found in teeth] promoted nerve regeneration in animal models [in this case – rodents] with paralyzing leg injuries.  According to the researchers, “Mesenchymal stem cells may be a promising add-on therapy to help damaged nerves regenerate.”  The study found that the rodents treated with their own stem cells responded best to the treatment. Those treated with donated cells from dissimilar rodent types – a situation most similar to human transplants – rejected their new limbs.

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Stem Cells Utilized to Develop Treatments for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy


Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a particularly severe form of muscular dystrophy [MD – a genetic disorder], affects as many as 15,000 young Americans.  Many of those afflicted eventually succumb to cardiac or respiratory failure by their early 20’s.  Researchers at University of California, Los Angeles, are utilizing stem cells to model the disease in order to develop and test treatments. One particularly promising treatment involves a method referred to as exon skipping.  The technique essentially tricks the cell’s machinery into misreading the MD genetic mutation so instead of producing the defective protein responsible for the disease, the cells produce a more functional version of the protein.  In using muscle cells derived from stem cells of people with muscular dystrophy – the cells contain the mutation that causes muscular dystrophy – researchers anticipate their tests to more accurately reflect how human cells would react to their drugs [or combination of drugs]. This enables more efficient and effective testing of potential treatments and speeds the process of developing those treatment options that show the most promise.  According to Stanley Nelson, a lead researcher on the project, “We are thrilled that stem cell research will change the outcome of Duchenne”.

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The Future of Stem Cell Research


As our readers know, our blog posts focus on advances in regenerative medicine; often reporting on research and treatment options under development for many currently untreatable, intractable types of disease, trauma and injury.  Another benefit of stem cell research has been the ability to model disease conditions in humans by regenerating a variety of tissue types and organs with a particular disease or genetic disorder.  We’ve reported on many of these advances on the very pages of this blog.  Use of these tissues and organs is enabling researchers to develop more effective treatments in less time and cost efficiently.  Another benefit of these new developments is a reduction in the need for research animals and consequently, the need to subject or breed research animals with the disease or genetic disorder being studied.

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Stem Cells Utilized to Target Brain Tumors


Maciej S. Lesniak and Yu Cheng, researchers at University of Chicago’s Brain Tumor Center, are using Neural Stem Cells [NSCs] to target brain tumors.  The neural stem cells, which have a built-in homing mechanism to “sniff out” tumors, are being used to deliver cancer drugs to combat the tumors.  The use of NSCs to treat brain tumors represents a novel use of stem cells and is indicative of researcher’s increasing application of stem cells to develop treatments for previously intractable health issues.  The treatment takes advantage of stem cells role as the body’s natural repair and maintenance mechanism.

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