Stem cells hold great potential for addressing a variety of conditions from spinal cord injuries to cancer, but they can be difficult to control.
Scientists are now reporting in the journal ACS Nano a new way to mimic the body’s natural approach to programming these cells. Using this method, they successfully directed adult stem cells to turn specifically into muscle, which could potentially help treat patients with muscular dystrophy.
ARTHRITIS sufferers could be offered cartilage replacements within five years after a breakthrough by British scientists.
Treatment for the crippling condition is currently limited to basic pain relief or complex joint replacement surgery.
But trials using stem cells have shown “astonishing” results with tissue almost as good as new after just three months.
Professor Sue Kimber, who led the research, said: “This work represents an important step forward in treating cartilage damage using embryonic stem cells to form new tissue.
“It may offer a new line of therapy for people with crippling joint pain and we now need this process to be developed for patients.”
Osteoarthritis occurs when cartilage at the ends of bones wears away causing severe pain and stiffness.
Researchers say the latest experiments show the procedure could potentially be a “safe and effective treatment” for more than eight million people who suffer from joint damage and inflammation.
In the experiments, led by teams at Manchester University and Arthritis Research UK, discarded embryonic stem cells from IVF clinics were transformed into cartilage cells.
These were transplanted into rats with defective joints.
Tests showed the high-quality artificially grown tissue quickly aided the repair of the joint.
The experiments have excited researchers because they were able to generate new healthy-looking cartilage without signs of damaging side effects.
Although cartilage cells created from adult stem cells are being used experimentally they cannot be produced in large amounts because the procedure is prohibitively expensive.
But embryonic stem cells’ capacity to multiply quickly offers the possibility of high-volume cartilage production.
Researchers in bone tissue regeneration believe they have made a significant breakthrough for sufferers of bone trauma, disease or defects such as osteoporosis.
Medical researchers from Keele University and Nottingham University have found that magnetic nanoparticles coated with targeting proteins can stimulate stem cells to regenerate bone. Researchers were also able to deliver the cells directly to the injured area, remotely controlling the nanoparticles to generate mechanical forces and maintain the regeneration process through staged releases of a protein growth stimulant.
The current method for repairing bone that can’t heal itself is through a graft taken from the patient. Unfortunately, this can be a painful, invasive procedure, and when the area that needs repair is too large or the patient has a skeletal disorder such as there can sometimes be a lack of healthy bone for grafting.
There’s a good reason people over 60 are not donor candidates for bone marrow transplantation. The immune system ages and weakens with time, making the elderly prone to life-threatening infection and other maladies, and a UC San Francisco research team now has discovered a reason why.
“We have found the cellular mechanism responsible for the inability of blood-forming cells to maintain blood production over time in an old organism, and have identified molecular defects that could be restored for rejuvenation therapies,” said Emmanuelle Passegué, PhD, a professor of medicine and a member of the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCSF. Passegué, an expert on the stem cells that give rise to the blood and immune system, led a team that published the new findings online July 30, 2014 in the journal Nature.
Blood and immune cells are short-lived, and unlike most tissues, must be constantly replenished. The cells that must keep producing them throughout a lifetime are called “hematopoietic stem cells.” Through cycles of cell division these stem cells preserve their own numbers and generate the daughter cells that give rise to replacement blood and immune cells. But the hematopoietic stem cells falter with age, because they lose the ability to replicate their DNA accurately and efficiently during cell division, Passegué’s lab team determined.
Researchers in the United Kingdom and Malaysia are developing a new class of injectable material that stimulates stem cells to regenerate damaged tissue and form new blood vessels, heart and bone tissue.
Researchers have generated functional hepatocytes from human stem cells, transplanted them into mice with acute liver injury, and shown the ability of these stem-cell derived human liver cells to function normally and increase survival of the treated animals.
This promising advance in the development of cell-based therapies to treat liver failure resulting from injury or disease relied on the development of scalable, reproducible methods to produce stem cell-derived hepatocytes in bioreactors, as described in an article in Stem Cells and Development, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is available free on the Stem Cells and Development website.
Massoud Vosough and coauthors demonstrate a large-scale, integrated manufacturing strategy for generating functional hepatocytes in a single suspension culture grown in a scalable stirred bioreactor. In the article “Generation of Functional Hepatocyte-Like Cells from Human Pluripotent Stem Cells in a Scalable Suspension Culture” the authors describe the method used for scale-up, differentiation of the pluripotent stem cells into liver cells, and characterization and purification of the hepatocytes based on their physiological properties and the expression of liver cell biomarkers.
David C. Hay, MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine, University of Edinburgh, U.K., comments on the importance of Vosough et al.’s contribution to the scientific literature in his editorial in Stem Cells and Development entitled “Rapid and Scalable Human Stem Cell Differentiation: Now in 3D.” The researchers “developed a system for mass manufacture of stem cell derived hepatocytes in numbers that would be useful for clinical application,” creating possibilities for future “immune matched cell based therapies,” says Hay. Such approaches could be used to correct mutated genes in stem cell populations prior to differentiation and transplantation, he adds.
“The elephant in the room for stem cell therapy rarely even acknowledged let alone addressed in the literature is that of scalable production of cells for translational application,” says Editor-in-Chief Graham C. Parker, PhD, research professor, Carman and Ann Adams Department of Pediatrics, Wayne State University School of Medicine. “Baharvand’s groups’ landmark publication not only demonstrates but exquisitely describes the methodology required to scale up stem cell populations for clinical application with a rigor to satisfy necessary manufacturing standards.”
The method has been shown to work with all types of hair follicles
Researchers lead by Professor Takashi Tsuji from the Tokyo University of Science have successfully induced the natural hair growth and loss cycle in previously hairless mice. They have achieved this feat through the implantation of bioengineered hair follicles recreated from adult-tissue derived stem cells. While these results offer new hope for curing baldness, the work has broader implications, demonstrating the potential of using adult somatic stem cells for the bioengineering of organs for regenerative therapies.