Tuesday, May 30, 2017

5 Unbelievable (but incredible) Possibilities of Stem Cells Research

1. To bring someone back from the dead

Research currently underway by U.S Biotech company – Bioquark -  is hoping to bring brain dead patients back to consciousness.

The study taking place in India, will use implanted stem cells to regrow and stimulate neurons, and nerve stimulation techniques to jump start the nerves back into action. This technique has already been used to bring patients out of comas, and this is the next step.

Talking of the possibility of brain dead patients being able to make a full recovery, Ira Pastor Bioquark’s CEO has described it as;

“A bridge to that eventuality”

2. Reversing Heart damage

A long-term trial has shown the ability to reverse heart damage using engineered stem cells created by regenerative medicine company, Celixir.

The data collected over 5 years showed an average 40% reduction in heart damage. This is the first time that a study has shown heart scarring to be reversible.

Professor Westaby, from the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, who has been working on the technique for more than a decade, said:

“I am very excited at the prospect of a trial which will hopefully lead to the availability of this stem cell treatment to thousands of patients annually in the UK.

This would be the biggest breakthrough since the first transplants three decades ago.”

This success story has paved the way for European and US regulators to agree to global trials involving 500 patients. Trials of more than 100 patients at two London hospitals are set to begin this autumn.

3. Restoring Eyesight 

Using induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS), a research team in Japan have stopped further deterioration of a woman’s sight – the first time that iPS cells have been used in this way.

The woman’s sight was suffering from macular degeneration - an age related deterioration of her eyesight. Induced pluripotent stem cells were placed on a patch in the eye, and then encouraged to form retinal pigment epithelial cells, which support and nourish the retina cells that capture light for vision.

The discovery of these iPS cells earned Shinya Yamanaka a Nobel Prize, as they can be formed from adult cells that are not stem cells.

“This is a landmark study and opens the door to similar treatments for many diseases,”

Shinya Yamanaka, director of the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application at Kyoto University, and Nobel Prize winner

4. An Alternative to Knee Surgery

Knee surgery is often the last resort for people with long-term knee injuries, but these can be fraught with complications, and often lead to decreased mobility.

However, a new clinical trial is testing a new approach  - filling the gap in a damaged knee cartilage with umbilical stem cells.

Sean Fair, from Massachusetts, U.S., has become one of the first people to have his injury treated in this way.

Gel containing the stem cells was injected into his knee in small holes drilled into the bone, along with the existing hole created by the accident.

Several months after the surgery, and after a strict rehabilitation process, the stem cells in Fair’s knee developed into chondrocytes, cells that secrete a matrix of cartilage, and sealed the hole in his knee. 

It is hoped that -  pending further trials - patients with knee injuries will be able to be treated with this method in the future, saving the agonising waiting and recovery times required for knee surgery.

5. To Treat Burns

An experimental technology using a device which sprays stem cells onto damaged skin, offers new hope to patients who have suffered a severe burn.

Patients with severe burns would usually have to wait for a skin graft which can be painful and require repeat procedures before it takes. The SkinGun created by U.S stem cell company, RenovaCare uses a solution made up of stem cells taken from the patient’s own body which attached to the skin and begins to grow as a cellular level.

"We don't modify the cells," said Thomas Bold, an engineer and president and CEO of RenovaCare.

 "We don't do anything with the cells. We just isolate them from the surrounding tissue, put them in a syringe within a water-based solution, and we spray them.

"What we're doing is all natural,"
he added.

This is a guest blog entry.

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