Category Archives: stem cell research

Harvard stem cell study promises personalized treatments

Personalized Medicine

Personalized Medicine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Scientists have for some time been able to reproduce pieces of human organs on chips. Now in a new study they’ve been able to use a patient’s stem cells to reproduce in the lab chunks of functioning tissue from a human being with a specific disease.

In this case, a team of experts from multiple disciplines “modeled the cardiovascular disease Barth syndrome, a rare X-linked cardiac disorder caused by mutation of a single gene called Tafazzin, or TAZ. The disorder, which is currently untreatable, primarily appears in boys, and is associated with a number of symptoms affecting heart and skeletal muscle function.”

The disease in this case results in very weak contractions of the heart muscle. The hope is that they may also eventually be able to model functioning tissue from patients with other diseases that produce other functional problems.

Why would they want to create functioning yet diseased human tissue outside a human being? The answer is that they can then experiment with and test all kinds of drugs and other treatments that they might not want to use directly on an actual living, breathing human being. In this scenario they were able to inject a genetic product that corrected the contractile problem right there in the lab.

While the article doesn’t say this, I’m thinking it could also mean in the long run fewer animals used for experimentation. And it could lead to shorter times before promising therapies can get to clinical trials.

A brave new world, indeed.


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Stem cells from fat used to regenerate bone

English: Fat Stem Cells

English: Fat Stem Cells (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bone injuries and osteoporosis have long been the target of research for better treatments. Now a team of California researchers has discovered a way to use stem cells from fat tissue to regenerate bone.

The new approach overcomes some of the major obstacles of using regular mesenchymal stromal stem cells (MSC). MSCs require a two- to three-week period of culturing outside the body, which introduces greater possibility of infection and increases the risk of cancer cells developing before the stem cells can be used.

The new method of harvesting and purifying stem cells from adipose tissue produces what are known as perivascular stem cells (PSC). PSCs are localized around all the body’s veins and arteries and form part of the natural regenerative system. At the same time researchers identified a new growth factor NELL-1 that “potently amplifies the ability of PSC to form bone and vascular structures.”

Applications for the new method include treating bone loss due both to post-menopause in women and to aging in both men and women.

Can’t wait to see this get to clinical trial.

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