The future is here. Now let’s do something about it.
Although the science of stem cell therapy has been in development since the 1950s, mainstream application of regenerative medicine has undergone a rapid explosion in recent years given newfound advancements in the field. With the discovery of autologous stem cells – stem cells that can be derived from a patient’s own body—the field has seen widespread development in treating diseases such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.
In the spirit of discovery, Regenerative Medicine Solutions has put together a list of 5 Advancements in Stem Cell Therapy That Will Excite You about the present and the future.
5. It’s Helping People Walk Again (Multiple Sclerosis)
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disorder that currently affects 2.3 million people worldwide. In some cases, the disease can affect the sufferer’s ability to walk. However, in a recent study by Sheffields Royal Hallamshire Hospital, some patients have regained the ability to walk. By harvesting hematopoietic stem cells from a patient’s bone marrow, destroying all of the immune system and replacing it with the collected cells, this treatment could possibly be a one-time treatment that can lead to lifetime remission from MS.
Even further, doctors at Ottawa Hospital were recently able to either eliminate or halt the progression of MS in 23 patients who participated in a 13 year study. The study involved immune system suppression combined with stem cell therapy.
4. Fixing Broken Hearts (Heart Disease)
Nearly 2,600 Americans die from cardiovascular disease (CVD) each day- that is one person every 34 seconds- and it has been the number one cause of death in the United States every year since 1900. As CVD deprives the heart tissue of oxygen, it kills cardiac muscle cells leading to heart failure and eventual death. Recent studies have shown that stem cells injected into the circulation or tissue itself have been able to improve cardiac function and induce the formation of new capillaries. Although more data is needed, this information shows how stem cells may be used in the future to repair damaged heart tissue.
3. Allowing People to Regain Their Sight (Blindness)
Currently, age-related macular degeneration and Stargardt’s macular dystrophy are the leading causes of blindness in the elderly and children. However in 2011, two patients became the first to be treated, preventing further vision loss with no adverse side effects. Recently, a team of scientists at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in Japan have worked to recreate complete retinas from mice stem cells. If the technique can be replicated from human cells with safe implantation assured, it could effectively be used to replace damaged retinas and end blindness.
In 2015, Doug Oliver‘s life was changed forever when he opted for stem cell therapy for macular generation. Prior to treatment, Oliver was blind, with his tests showing 20/2000 vision in his left eye, and 20/400 in his right. Two days after a bone marrow stem cell treatment, his vision had improved vastly, 20/40 in his left eye and 20/30 in his right.
2. Relieving Pain and Restoring Mobility (Rheumatoid Arthritis)
Rheumatoid Arthritis is a painful and disabling disease affecting 1 out of 100 people worldwide. Although traditional medicine for it does exist, for 20-40% of patients this treatment is wholly ineffective. However, a research group called REGEN-AR is currently working to find treatment for the disease through adult human stem cells extracted from fat tissue. Encouragingly, the Arthritis Foundation and the National Institutes of Health have shown public support for the science and in a recent study, hematopoietic stem cell treatment has shown efficacy in treating the disease.
1. Restoring Hairlines (Balding)
Hair loss is a common problem among men. Although not life-threatening, the emotional effects of losing one’s hair can be devastating, and regeneration of new hair follicles after treatment remains difficult. However, researchers have found that nude mice implanted with encapsulated stem cells experience abundant hair growth with the hair follicle showing mature characteristics. This means that the future of male pattern baldness may be reversed within our lifetime.
As new discoveries and applications for stem cell therapy are being found every day, this is an exciting time in the medical field. As the scientific community continues to put their best minds to the task of solving the problems and complications of the human body, they serve as pioneers for the betterment of us all.
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