The official blog of the Lung Institute.
Stem cell therapy has been in development since the 1950s, and since then, mainstream applications of regenerative medicine have benefitted from new advancements. With the discovery of autologous stem cells – cells derived from a patient’s own body—regenerative medicine has leapt ahead in treating diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Here are 5 Innovations in the Field of Regenerative Medicine that may seem like science fiction but that are now a reality.
5. It’s Helping People Walk Again (Multiple Sclerosis)
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disorder that affects about 2.3 million people worldwide. In some cases, the disease affects the ability to walk. The good news is that, 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, neutralizing the patient’s immune system and replacing it with the previously collected cells, this treatment could develop into a one-time treatment that can lead to lifetime remission from MS.
In a further advancement, 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. This study also involved immune system suppression combined with stem cell therapy.
4. Mending Broken Hearts (Heart Disease)
Nearly 2,600 Americans die from cardiovascular disease (CVD) each day- that is one person every 34 seconds. It has been the number one cause of death in the United States every year since the beginning of the Twentieth Century. As CVD deprives heart tissue of oxygen, it kills cardiac muscle, eventually leading to heart failure and death. Recent studies have shown that stem cells injected into the circulatory system, or into the affected 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. Giving Sight to the Blind (Blindness)
Age-related macular degeneration and Stargardt’s macular dystrophy are the leading causes of blindness among the elderly and children. But in 2011, two patients became the first to be treated with stem cells, preventing further vision loss with no adverse side effects.
Recently, a team of scientists at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in Japan worked to generate complete retinas from mouse stem cells. If the technique can be replicated using human cells, along with a safe procedure for implanting the new retinas, it could be used to end blindness in humans caused by damaged retinas.
In 2015, Doug Oliver‘s life was changed forever when he opted for stem cell therapy for macular generation. Prior to treatment, Oliver was effectively 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, to 20/40 in his left eye and 20/30 in his right!
2. Pain Relief and Restoring Mobility (Rheumatoid Arthritis)
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a painful and disabling disease affecting one person in 100 worldwide. Although traditional treatment for RA exists, for 20-40 percent of patients this treatment is wholly ineffective.
Good news may be just over the horizon. A research group called REGEN-AR is working to find a treatment for RA 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 been shown effective in treating the disease.
1. Hair Restoration (Balding)
Hair loss is a common problem among a large portion of men and some women. Although not life-threatening, losing one’s hair can be emotionally devastating, and regeneration of new hair follicles after treatment remains difficult. However, researchers have found that hairless mice implanted with encapsulated stem cells experienced abundant hair growth, with new hair follicles showing mature characteristics. This means that male pattern baldness may become a thing of the past within our lifetime. The scientific community applies its best minds to the task of relieving humanity of various ailments, and with new discoveries and applications for stem cell therapy continuing to be discovered, this is an exciting time in the medical field.
About the Lung Institute
The Lung Institute is the leading medical provider of regenerative cellular therapy for lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pulmonary fibrosis and interstitial lung disease in the United States. To date the organization has treated over 3,000 patients. In 2013, the Lung Institute in Tampa, Fla. opened. Now, the Lung Institute operates clinics in Tampa, Fla., Nashville, Tenn., Scottsdale, Ariz., and Pittsburgh, Pa. and Dallas, Texas. For more information, please visit www.lunginstitute.com or call (800) 729-3065.
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