Stem Cell - Archive

January 2010: Stem Cell & Cloning Research

Pioneering Adult Stem Cell Treatment Helps Man Recover Sight After 15 Years

Australia Man With MS Walks Again After Adult Stem Cell Treatment

 Newly Added Articles:

Reprogramming a Patient's Eye Cells May Herald New Degenerative Disease Treatments

Spraying on Skin Cells to Heal Burns: A new technique in burn treatment provides an alternative to skin grafts in the operating room

Treating Heart Disease With a Person's Own Stem Cells…

Reprogramming a Patient's Eye Cells May Herald New Degenerative Disease Treatments
Scientists have overcome a key barrier to the clinical use of stem cells with a technique which transforms regular body cells into artificial stem cells without the need for introducing foreign genetic materials, which could be potentially harmful. The research, published in Stem Cells, suggests that cells taken from a patient's eye can be "reprogrammed" to replace or restore cells lost to degenerative diseases.

The research, led by Professor Iqbal Ahmad and co-authors from the University of Nebraska Medical Center, is the first proof in principle that somatic, or body cells, can be reprogrammed into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) simply through the influence of the microenvironment in which the sampled cells are cultured.

Until now genetic materials were introduced into somatic cells to re-programme them to become pluripotent, enabling them to generate cells of all three embryonic lineages.

"Our findings provide evidence for an emerging view that somatic cells may be reprogrammed safely and simply by defined chemicals and other factors, which may facilitate their clinical use," said Ahmad. "The next step is to know how robust the reprogramming is and what existed within the microenvironment to cause it."

The team sampled progenitor eye cells, which regenerate the eye's cornea, from laboratory rats. By reprogramming them to resemble stem cells they acquired the properties necessary to replace or restore neurons, cardiomyocytes, and hepatocytes, cell types which are degenerated in Parkinson's disease, heart disease, and liver disease.

This reprogramming technique may allow 'autologous cell transplantation', where the donor of the cells is also the recipient. This is preferable to using cells from another person which may cause the patient's immune system to reject the transplanted cells.

Also, because this technique involves the use of iPSCs derived from adult eye cells and not embryonic stem cells (ES) it side steps many of the ethical dilemmas which have embroiled stem cell research.

"This research shows that it is possible to take cells from a patient's eye without affecting vision and reprogram them for use in autologous cell therapy to replace or rescue degenerating cells," concluded Ahmad, "this would allow us to circumvent ethical issues and the problems caused by the immune system rejecting foreign cells."
Source: Wiley (news : web)
[October 22, 2009, http://www.physorg.com/news175458227.html]

Spraying on Skin Cells to Heal Burns: A new technique in burn treatment provides an alternative to skin grafts in the operating room

Traditionally, treatment for severe second-degree burns consists of adding insult to injury: cutting a swath of skin from another site on the same patient in order to graft it over the burn. The process works, but causes more pain for the burn victim and doubles the area in need of healing.

Now a relatively new technology has the potential to heal burns in a way that's much less invasive than skin grafts. With just a small skin biopsy and a ready-made kit, surgeons can create a suspension of the skin's basal cells–the stem cells of the epidermis–and spray the solution directly onto the burn with results comparable to those from skin grafts.

Spray-on skin: In a unique treatment for second-degree burns, surgeons harvest a small number of skin cells through a skin biopsy, suspend them in solution, and then spray the resulting mixture onto a burn wound. Once in place, skin stem cells, called basal cells, proliferate to create a new layer of skin.

The cell spray is intended to treat severe second-degree burns, in which the top two layers of skin are damaged but the subcutaneous tissue is left intact. Third-degree burns, which are more severe, still require a skin graft.

The spray, already approved for use in some countries, has garnered interest from the United States Army, whose Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine is funding a trial, slated to begin before the end of 2009, of more than 100 patients.

The technology, developed by Australian surgeon Fiona Wood, relies on cells, such as skin progenitor cells and the color-imparting melanocytes, that are most concentrated at the junction between the skin's top two layers.

With a small step-by-step kit dubbed ReCell, surgeons can harvest, process and apply these cells to treat a burn as large as 50 square inches. The kit, marketed by Avita Medical, a United Kingdom-based regenerative-medicine company, is a tiny, self-contained lab about the size and shape of a large sunglasses case.

After removing a small swatch of skin near the burn site (the closer the biopsy, the better for precise matching of color and texture), the surgeon places it in the kit's tiny incubator along with an enzyme solution. The enzyme loosens the critical cells at the skin's dermal-epidermal junction, and the surgeon harvests them by scraping them off the epidermal and dermal layers and suspending them in solution. The resulting mixture is then sprayed onto the wound, repopulating the burn site with basal cells from the biopsy site.

"Currently, treating any burn that requires a skin graft is the same technology we were routinely using 30 years ago," says James Holmes, a surgeon and the medical director of the Burn Center at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. Current practice with larger burns requires grafts from donor skin that are anywhere from one-quarter to the complete size of the burn area.

ReCell requires only as much as four square centimeters. "This allows you to take a very small skin biopsy and process it at the table there in the operating room using a fully prepackaged device," Holmes says. "You're able to cover an area that's 80 times the size of your biopsy."

Holmes is the lead investigator on an upcoming multicenter trial that will compare skin grafts and ReCell.

Patients in the tr

ial will act as their own controls: If a burn victim has a second-degree burn severe enough for surgeons to deem treatable by skin graft, half of the burn will be treated that way, while the other half will be treated with the cell spray…

As a complete replacement for skin grafts, ReCell only works against severe second-degree burns–deeper, third-degree burns have destroyed the layer of skin that the ReCell solution would be able to repopulate.
[5November2009, Lauren Gravitz, http://www.technologyreview.com/biomedicine/23876/and http://www.technologyreview.com/biomedicine/23876/page2/]

 

 

 

Treating Heart Disease With a Person's Own Stem Cells

The largest national stem cell study for heart disease showed the first evidence that transplanting a potent form of adult stem cells into the heart muscle of subjects with severe angina results in less pain and an improved ability to walk. The transplant subjects also experienced fewer deaths than those who didn't receive stem cells.

In the 12-month Phase II, double-blind trial, subjects' own purified stem cells, called CD34+ cells, were injected into their hearts in an effort to spur the growth of small blood vessels that make up the microcirculation of the heart muscle. Researchers believe the loss of these blood vessels contributes to the pain of chronic, severe angina.

"This is the first study to show significant benefit in pain reduction and improved exercise capacity in this population with very advanced heart disease," said principal investigator Douglas Losordo, M.D., the Eileen M. Foell Professor of Heart Research at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a cardiologist and director of the program in cardiovascular regenerative medicine at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, the lead site of the study.

Losordo, also director of the Feinberg Cardiovascular Research Institute, said this study provides the first evidence that a person's own stem cells can be used as a treatment for their heart disease. He cautioned, however, that the findings of the 25-site trial with 167 subjects, require verification in a larger, Phase III study.

He presented his findings Nov. 17 at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2009.

Out of the estimated 1 million people in the U.S. who suffer from chronic, severe angina — chest pain due to blocked arteries — about 300,000 cannot be helped by any traditional medical treatment such as angioplasty, bypass surgery or stents. This is called intractable or severe angina, the severity of which is designated by classes. The subjects in Losordo's study were class 3 or 4, meaning they had chest pain from normal to minimal activities, such as from brushing their teeth or even resting.

The stem cell transplant is the first therapy to produce an improvement in severe angina subjects' ability to walk on a treadmill. Twelve months after the procedure, the transplant subjects were able to double their improvement on a treadmill compared to the placebo group. It also took twice as long until they experienced angina pain on a treadmill compared to the placebo group, and, when they felt pain, it went away faster with rest. In addition, they had fewer overall episodes of chest pain in their daily lives.

In the trial, the CD34+ cells were injected into 10 locations in the heart muscle. A sophisticated electromechanical mapping technology identifies where the heart muscle is alive but not functioning, because it is not receiving enough blood supply.

The study was supported by Baxter Healthcare Corporation. Losordo formerly was a paid consultant to Baxter. [ScienceDaily, Nov. 18, 2009, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091117184541.htm]

 

 

 

Pioneering Adult Stem Cell Treatment Helps Man Recover Sight After 15 Years
A man who was partially blinded when ammonia was squirted in his eye during an attack 15 years ago has regained his sight after receiving a pioneering stem cell treatment, according to a London Guardian report.

Russell Turnbull, 38, suffered massive damage to his right eye when he was caught in a scuffle after a night out in Newcastle in 1994. On the bus home, Turnbull had tried to intervene in a fight between two men but was injured when one of them began squirting passengers with ammonia. The chemical severely scarred Turnbull's cornea, the clear membrane that covers the front of the eye, and destroyed stem cells that usually help keep the cornea healthy. "I was in unbearable pain. It burned my eye shut," Turnbull told the Guardian. "I was in hospital for two weeks and eventually I was able to open the eye again. It was like looking through scratched perspex."

Turnbull was left with "limbal stem cell deficiency" (LSCD), a condition that seriously impairs sight, and was in pain every time he blinked or saw bright lights. In an experimental treatment devised by doctors at the North East England Stem Cell Institute in Newcastle, stem cells were taken from Turnbull's healthy eye and grown on a layer of amniotic tissue, which is routinely used as a burn dressing. The NHS banks amniotic sacs are donated by women who have had a Caesarean section.

When the cells had covered the membrane, a piece the size of a postage stamp was transplanted onto Turnbull's damaged eye. Two months later the membrane had broken down, leaving his damaged eye with a fresh supply of healthy stem cells, which repaired the cornea. Eye tests six months after surgery showed that Turnbull's vision was nearly as good as it had been before the attack.
[30Dec09, #4788, London, England, www.Lifenews.com]

Australia Man With MS Walks Again After Adult Stem Cell Treatment
An Australian man appears to have made a remarkable recovery from multiple sclerosis after receiving new stem cell treatment, according to ABC News in Australia. Ben Leahy, 20, was diagnosed with the disease in 2008 and ended up in intensive care at one point with respiratory failure after his condition deteriorated rapidly.

He was in a wheelchair and also had sight problems when he underwent the procedure earlier this year but today he is walking and recovering well.

Australian doctors removed stem cells from Ben's bone marrow, then used chemicals to destroy all the existing immune cells in the body before re-injecting his stem cells. ACT neurologist Dr Colin Andrews says the positive results in Ben have surprised doctors.

"At the moment there's a good chance we may have arrested the disease," he said. "He walks pretty well, there's only some mild weakness in his right leg and some visual loss in one eye and apart from that he's very intact," he said.

The risk of death from the procedure has now been reduced to 1 percent and Dr Andrews says the outstanding results on Ben means it can now be an option for more people as a last resort if other treatments have not been successful in stopping the progress of the disease.&nbsp

; [17Dec09, Canberra, Australia, www.LifeNews.com]