The Power of Stem Cells

Stem cells have the potential to treat a wide range of diseases. Here, discover why these cells are such a powerful tool for treating disease—and what hurdles experts face before new therapies reach patients.

How can stem cells treat disease?

When most people think about about stem cells treating disease they think of a stem cell transplant.

In a stem cell transplant, stem cells are first specialized into the necessary adult cell type. Then, those mature cells replace tissue that is damaged by disease or injury. This type of treatment could be used to:

  • Replace neurons damaged by spinal cord injury, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease or other neurological problems;
  • Produce insulin that could treat people with diabetes or cartilage to repair damage caused by arthritis; or
  • Replace virtually any tissue or organ that is injured or diseased.

But stem cell-based therapies can do much more.

  • Studying how stem cells develop into heart muscle cells could provide clues about how we could induce heart muscle to repair itself after a heart attack.
  • The cells could be used to study disease, identify new drugs, or screen drugs for toxic side effects.

Any of these would have a significant impact on human health without transplanting a single cell.

What diseases could be treated by stem cell research?

In theory, there’s no limit to the types of diseases that could be treated with stem cell research. Given that researchers may be able to study all cell types they have the potential to make breakthroughs in any disease.

How can I learn more about CIRM-funded stem cell research in a particular disease?

CIRM has created disease pages for many of the major diseases being targeted by stem cell scientists. You can find those disease pages here.

You can also sort our complete list of CIRM awards to see what we’ve funded in different disease areas.

What cell therapies are available right now?

While there are a growing number of potential therapies being tested in clinical trials there are only a few stem cell therapies that have so far been approved by the FDA. Two therapies that CIRM provided early funding for have been approved. Those are:

  • Fedratinib, approved by the FDA in August 2019 as a first line therapy for myelofibrosis (scarring of the bone marrow)
  • Glasdegib, approved in November 2016 as a combination therapy with low dose are-C for patients 75 years of age and older with acute myelogenous leukemia

Right now the most commonly used stem cell-based therapy is bone marrow transplantation. Blood-forming stem cells in the bone marrow were the first stem cells to be identified and were the first to be used in the clinic. This life-saving technique has helped thousands people worldwide who had been suffering from blood cancers, such as leukemia.

In addition to their current use in cancer treatments, research suggests that bone marrow transplants will be useful in treating autoimmune diseases and in helping people tolerate transplanted organs.

Other therapies based on adult stem cells are currently in clinical trials. Until those trials are complete we won’t know which type of stem cell is most effective in treating different diseases.

To find out more, please click on the link below:

https://www.cirm.ca.gov/patients/power-stem-cells

New hope for stem cell approach to treating diabetes – Washington University Study

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have tweaked the recipe for coaxing human stem cells into insulin-secreting beta cells and shown that the resulting cells are more responsive to fluctuating glucose levels in the blood. Here, the new beta cells appear red as they secrete insulin in response to glucose.
Credit: Millman lab, Washington Universityientists working to develop more effective treatments for diabetes are turning to stem cells. Such cells can be transformed into cells that produce insulin, the hormone that controls blood sugar.

But there’s a major challenge: the amount of insulin produced by theses cells is difficult to control.

Now, by tweaking the recipe for coaxing human stem cells into insulin-secreting beta cells, a team of researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has shown that the resulting cells are more responsive to fluctuating glucose levels in the blood.

 

When they transplanted the beta cells into mice that could not make insulin, the new cells began secreting insulin within a few days, and they continued to control blood sugar in the animals for months.

The new study is published Jan. 17 in the journal Stem Cell Reports.

“We’ve been able to overcome a major weakness in the way these cells previously had been developed. The new insulin-producing cells react more quickly and appropriately when they encounter glucose,” said principal investigator Jeffrey R. Millman, PhD, an assistant professor of medicine and of biomedical engineering. “The cells behave much more like beta cells in people who don’t have diabetes.”

The researchers now believe it may be time to evaluate whether the same stem-cell approach could produce insulin and effectively control blood sugar in people.

Millman was a part of a research team at Harvard that, in 2014, converted skin cells into stem cells and, in 2016, did the same thing with skin cells from a patient with diabetes. Each time, the stem cells were then treated with various growth factors to coax them into insulin-secreting beta cells. The beta cells, however, didn’t work as well as the researchers had hoped.

“Previously, the beta cells we manufactured could secrete insulin in response to glucose, but they were more like fire hydrants, either making a lot of insulin or none at all,” he said. “The new cells are more sensitive and secrete insulin that better corresponds to the glucose levels.”

For this study, Millman’s laboratory still grew beta cells from human stem cells, but they made numerous changes to the “recipe” for producing insulin-producing beta cells, treating the cells with different factors at different times as they grew and developed to help the cells mature and function more effectively.

After that process was complete, the researchers transplanted the beta cells into diabetic mice with suppressed immune systems so that they wouldn’t reject the human cells. Those transplanted cells produced insulin at levels that effectively controlled blood sugar in the mice, functionally curing their diabetes for several months, which, for most of the mice in the study, was about the length of their lives.

As laboratory researcher rather than a clinician, Millman said he can’t predict exactly when such cells may be ready for human trials but believes there are at least two ways that stem cell-derived beta cells could be tested in human patients.

“The first would be to encapsulate the cells in something like a gel — with pores small enough to prevent immune cells from getting in but large enough to allow insulin to get out,” he said. “Another idea would be to use gene-editing tools to alter the genes of beta cells in ways that would allow them to ‘hide’ from the immune system after implantation.”

Millman said that if stem cell-derived beta cells are proven safe and effective for people with diabetes, his method of manufacturing the cells quickly could be ramped up to an industrial scale. In his laboratory alone, his team is able to grow and develop more than a billion beta cells in just a few weeks.

Story Source:

Materials provided by Washington University School of MedicineNote: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Leonardo Velazco-Cruz, Jiwon Song, Kristina G. Maxwell, Madeleine M. Goedegebuure, Punn Augsornworawat, Nathaniel J. Hogrebe, Jeffrey R. Millman. Acquisition of Dynamic Function in Human Stem Cell-Derived β CellsStem Cell Reports, 2019; DOI: 10.1016/j.stemcr.2018.12.012

 

 

Groundbreaking IV Therapy Now Available At Stem Cell Miami

A note from Ingrid Machado, CEO of Stem Cell Miami:

With this article, I’d like to introduce you to Robert Jacobson, M.D., who is part of our “team of experts” at Stem Cell Miami.  Dr. Jacobson is a neurosurgeon with more than thirty years of clinical experience, author of numerous professional articles, holder of multiple medical patents, former U.S. Army medical officer, and dedicated educator.  In this article, Dr. Jacobson discusses how IV Therapy is used by other physicians at Stem Cell Miami to treat a wide range of conditions and promote overall health.

In the last decade, life expectancy has been getting longer and people have become more active. As a result, people are focusing more on healthier living and prevention. So what can we do?  Clearly, exercise, healthy eating or taking vitamins have benefits but we can also have early and more advanced health problems because of heredity, poor health secondary to smoking or obesity or development of other medical conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, various autoimmune conditions and cancer. Patients are looking at options to maintain good health, correct disease in early stages or reverse underlying risk problems before they cause irreversible changes in their body. Many athletes and professional sports teams use IV Therapy to maintain peak performance. For the patient, using IV Therapy can be a part of this medical process to maintain and restore your health.

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Revolutionary IV Therapy & Wellness Treatments Available At Stem Cell Miami

Revolutionary IV Therapy & Wellness Treatments Available At Stem Cell Miami

By: Dr. Robert E. Jacobson

In the last decade, life expectancy is getting longer and people are more active. As a result, people are focusing more on healthier living and prevention. So what can we do?  Clearly, exercise, healthy eating or taking vitamins have benefits but we can also have early and more advanced health problems because of heredity, poor health secondary to smoking or obesity or development of other medical conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, various autoimmune conditions and cancer. Patients are looking at options to maintain good health, correct disease in early stages or reverse underlying risk problems before they cause irreversible changes in their body. Many athletes and professional sports teams use IV Therapy to maintain peak performance. For the patient, using IV Therapy can be a part of this medical process to maintain and restore your health.

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New Insights into Stem Cell Therapy in 2019 by Ingrid Machado / Stem Cell Miami CEO

 

Ingrid Machado / CEO Stem Cell Miami

The other day a friend asked me what my New Year’s resolution was.  When I told her “communicate better,” she gave me the kind of look that says “There are SO many other things you should be working on!”

I can’t blame my friend—she has the kind of profession that everyone understands.  At parties, when people ask her what she does, she says she’s a lawyer and the questions stop there.  Me?  I tell people I work with stem cells and they follow me for the rest of the evening asking questions.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind the questions.  It’s just that I keep assuming that people know about my field when, in reality, there’s a tremendous amount of misinformation that people have to sort through.

Anyway, I’m writing this on New Year’s Day and I need to get to work on my resolution, so let’s take a few minutes to go over what stem cells are, what they can and cannot do, and what treatments are available.  First of all, stem cells are just a special type of cell that can transform itself into a different type of cell.  In embryos, stem cells become the various cells that make up the body; in adults, stem cells take care of the damage repair and cell turnover that keeps us going.

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