Below is a description of some of the most exciting stem therapy news from July 2018. This research covers a wide range of different medical challenges.
Many Americans are negatively affected by chronic heart conditions. These ailments can shorten people’s lives and negatively impact their quality of life. Traditional medicine has made strides in addressing some of these conditions, but results are still lacking. Stem cell therapy, on the other hand, may be able to more effectively address these concerns in a low risk and cost-effective manner.
Initial research shows that stem cells may be effective in treating the following conditions:
- Heart Failure
- Myocardial Infarctions (more commonly known as heart attacks)
- Left ventricular dysfunction.
Stem cells may help address other cardiovascular problems too.
There is Still A Ways to Go
Doctors can inject these stem cells either into the bloodstream or directly into the heart muscle. However, it is important to remember that many of the research projects are in early stages. The test results are promising, but it may be years until patients are able to directly benefit from these treatments. Despite the promise offered by these therapies, research funding – from both public and private sources – remains low. Many large pharmaceutical companies still have not invested in this promising research direction and for a variety of reasons). This leaves small pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to do most of the work. These small companies may lack the necessary funds to invest in cutting-edge research.
Heart Attack and Their Long-Term Impact
One of the most significant problems with heart attacks is the lasting muscle damage that the heart attack can cause. This damage may lead a person to experience chronic fatigue and diminished cardiac functioning. At present, many doctors recommend that their patients complete comprehensive cardiac rehab. This can improve a person’s functioning, but it does not address the underlying muscle damage. Recent research with monkeys shows that embryonic stem cell infusions may improve post-heart attack cardiac functioning. The improvements are in the roughly 10 percent range. This is statistically significant.
Download our free Stem Cell 101 educational report today!
Finding A Solution To A Big Problem
If this happens, doctors may use stem cells to help prevent heart attacks. It is important to remember that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for almost 10 million deaths per year. An effective preventive treatment could dramatically reduce the total number of deaths, improve quality of life, and significantly reduce health care costs for both individuals and the country.
The Challenge With Human Trials
Human trials of this treatment remain several years off for many reasons. For example, the monkey study found that many of the monkeys that received stem cells developed serious arrhythmias. There seems to be a challenge to getting these injected stem cells to electrically couple with the patient’s heart. When these cells are not coupled, electrical disruptions can happen. Even though this coupling is a large challenge, researchers believe that they will be able to successfully tackle it, reducing the risk of stem cell transplantation.
Additional Research Breakthroughs
Heart disease is not the only medical field where there have been research breakthroughs with stem cell treatments in recent months. Other promising studies focus on Parkinson’s Disease. Parkinson’s Disease is a degenerative neurological disease that causes a loss of mobility and may ultimately lead to a patient’s loss of cognitive functioning or even death.
At the moment, there are some traditional pharmaceutical drugs that may treat symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease. However, these drugs are not a panacea, and, they may have serious side effects. Stem cell therapy would be lower risk and potentially higher reward than existing treatments. Stem cell therapy may also be lower cost.
Parkinson’s Disease and Stem Cell Therapy
One recent promising study comes from Japan. In this study, stem cells will be transplanted directly into the affected patient’s brain. According to scientific research, a lack of the chemical dopamine in the brain causes Parkinson’s Disease. These Japanese researchers hope that the newly implanted stem cells will stimulate the body to produce more dopamine. To address some of the ethical and political concerns that surround stem cell research in many countries (particularly traditionally Catholic ones, such as in Latin America or some European countries), the study uses human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) instead of traditional stem cell. These induced cells are mature cells that scientists bring back to a neonatal phase.
Scientists have already tested this approach in animal studies. The results have been extremely promising. The lab animals who received these iPS cells showed improved dopamine levels and reduced neurological symptoms for more than two years after transplant. If human trials replicate these results, then thousands of people around the world may have newfound hope for a long and healthy life without debilitating neurological symptoms.
A Possible Breakthrough For Muscular Dystrophy
Not surprisingly, however, as scientific research develops, medical professionals are exploring stem cell therapy for more and more diseases. For example, the University of Minnesota has recently announced results in which it was able to regenerate muscle cells in lab rats with muscular dystrophy. Although the research is still at an early stage, it could be a dramatic breakthrough for a disease that previously lacked effective treatment options and significantly impacted patient quality of life.
Join our Stem Cell Discussion & Information Facebook Group today!
One other interesting recent result is related to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD is a lung disorder that often occurs due to damage from long-term smoking or exposure to second-hand smoke, resulting in a decreased ability to breathe and other disturbing symptoms. COPD can dramatically reduce a patient’s quality of life.
A recent study found that stem cell therapy that has traditionally treated various cancers, principally non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, may also protect the lungs of smokers from COPD impacts. Even though initial results are promising, it is important to remember that these studies are still preliminary animal studies. The stem cells may have a different impact on human test subjects and multiple hurdles that still remain.
Scientists have known about the possible existence of stem cells for more than a century. However, it is only in the last several decades, due to rapid scientific and technological advances, that stem cell therapy has increasingly moved from a theoretical concept to a practical reality. Stem cell therapy, in principle, offers hope to thousands of patients who have diseases and conditions that do not respond well to traditional therapy. Unfortunately, however, some of this help is still only theoretical. Much of the research on stem cell treatment remains in its early stages, such as preliminary laboratory animal testing. Human trials and improved impacts for affected patients may still be years away, and risks still remain.
There Is Still Hope
This is not to say that people should not be optimistic. There is definitely cause for optimism. Not a week seems to pass without news of some new breakthrough in stem cell therapy. In July alone, there have been promising results on cardiovascular disease, particularly heart attacks, and neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s Disease. For example, monkeys who were treated with stem cells had improved cardiovascular functioning after stem cell transplants. Another study on Parkinson’s Disease showed that stem cell therapy may increase the body’s production of dopamine, and this dopamine, in turn, may reduce Parkinson’s symptoms, leading to improved quality of life for patients.
All of these results, plus other studies on COPD and muscular dystrophy, are undoubtedly reasons for optimism. The future offers endless amounts of hope for many patients, as well as opportunities and challenges for medical researchers to explore.