Adult Stem Cell Advances: Heart, Lungs, Cancer, More

Filed in Science, Social IssuesTags: Media Bias, Sanctity of Life, Stem Cells

Quietly, Adult Stem Cells (ASCs) continue to make more advances in therapeutic treatments, thanks to the recent breakthrough with induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), in which differentiated human skin, adipose (fat), or other cells are induced into reverting into a pluripotent state that essentially mimics embryonic pluripotent stem cells. These iPSCs have recently been induced into differentiating into heart cells, repairing damaged, premature lung cells, and treating cancer and a host of other disorders.

Heart Cells

Israeli researchers have induced iPSCs derived from human skin cells into forming heart cells, complete with a heartbeat:

Gepstein and his team from Technion's Rappaport Faculty of Medicine and Rambam Medical Center used reprogrammed iPSCs derived from healthy human subjects' skin cells with the characteristics of pluripotent embryonic stem cells. They were then able to convert them into heart cells with all the necessary properties such as expression of heart-related genes, spontaneous electrical activity, mechanical contraction, and response to various hormones such as adrenaline.

The researchers state that therapeutic uses such as repairing damaged heart cells or treating various genetic heart diseases may be 10 to 20 years away; however, the current research is incredibly valuable:

Published in the latest issue of Circulation, the findings by Professor Lior Gepstein of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology could make it possible to clinically repair damaged human hearts.

Such an application is at least 10 to 20 years away, says Gepstein, but the process can already be utilized for in-depth study of genetic diseases and the development of personalized drugs for irregular heartbeats and other inherited disorders.

And, of course, such a therapy has an inherent advantage over an embryonic stem cell (ESC) derived therapy:

Taking a patient's own cells and turning them into iPSCs for use in tissue repair and regeneration would also eliminate the risk of rejection by the body.

Protecting and Repairing Lungs of Preemies

A researcher in Alberta has demonstrated that bone-marrow derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) can help protect and repair lungs of extreme preemies:

A study now published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine demonstrates that bone marrow–derived, multipotent mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) may have therapeutic benefits in treating lung diseases such as BPD and pulmonary hypertension. The study was conducted at the University of Alberta, with collaborators from McGill University as well as labs in France and the US. Led by Dr. Bernard Thébaud, the study used both in vitro and in vivo experimental models to test the potential benefits of delivering stem cells to the damaged lungs.

Thebaud_sm “We found in the in vitro tests that the MSCs were attracted toward oxygen damaged lung tissue over that of normal lung tissue,” said Dr. Thébaud. “This was extremely encouraging and predictive of our in vivo tests, where we found that the delivery of stem cells to the lungs of diseased rats improved lung structure and function and attenuated pulmonary hypertension, so that the rats had an increased rate of survival and greater exercise tolerance.”

“More exciting though was the finding that MSCs did not as initially thought, replace the damaged lung cells. Rather, the MSCs seem to protect resident lung cells from being destroyed. Our conclusion is that the stem cells contributed to the prevention of lung injury, in part by producing protective factors for resident lung cells.”

This research is incredibly valuable for prematurely born infants, who are at great risk for long-term lung problems:

Babies who are born extremely premature – before 28 weeks – cannot breathe on their own. In order to help the babies' lungs to develop, neonatal doctors give them oxygen and drugs to help them breathe.

These treatments contribute to a chronic lung disease known as Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD). At present there is no treatment to heal the lungs of these premature babies.

50% of babies born before 28 weeks will get chronic lung disease. Case studies have shown that as these babies grow up, they continue to struggle with lung disease, coping with reduced lung function and early aging of their lungs.

The researcher, Dr. Bernard Thébaud, hopes for this therapy to reap significant benefits within a decade [emphasis added]:

"The dilemma we face with these tiny babies is a serious one. When they are born too early, they simply cannot breathe on their own. To save the babies' lives, we put them on a ventilator and give them oxygen, leaving many of them with chronic lung disease," says Dr. Thébaud. "Before the next decade is out I want to put a stop to this devastating disease."

Cancer

ASC therapies for cancer currently exist (outside of the U.S.):

Now, such incurable diseases can be treated by Stem Cell Therapy. Where Stem cells are being taken from patient’s own bone marrow, Adipose derived fat stem cells, peripheral blood derived stem cells or Umbilical cord blood-derived & placenta-derived immune rejection free stem cells. No. of experts in different parts of the world say Germany, Mexico, Ukraine, India, China and many more have treated thousands of patients suffering from incurable disease improving their Life quality.

More

And ASC and iPSCs have potential to treat even more diseases and disorders:

Latest research has shown that stem cell therapy has the potency to treat more than 75 life threatening diseases including cancers, Thalasemia, Blood disorders, Immune deficiencies, connective tissue disorders and metabolic/storage disorders.

More than the existing uses of cord blood stem cells, research indicates that these stem cells someday may be used to treat numerous other diseases including Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, diseases of heart and liver, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, spinal cord injury and stroke.

...

Another research has suggested that skin tissue derived from stem cells can be effectively used for the treatment of burn victims.

The future is indeed bright, as ASC and iPSC research continues to produce valuable results and potential treatments and therapies, without any of the ethical concerns of embryo-destructive stem cell research.

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2 Responses to “Adult Stem Cell Advances: Heart, Lungs, Cancer, More”
  1. chip_bennett says:

    Adult Stem Cell Advances: Heart, Lungs, Cancer, More – http://www.chipbennett.net/wordpress/200

  2. sam says:

    This is great news. This breakthrough in stem cell treatment will go a long way in saving many a lives throughout the world.

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