Stem cells adapt to any tissue found in the body – providing a near-limitless potential for modern medicine. The current medical research of 2019 is investigating how stem cells function in their application against diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, heart disease, spinal cord injuries, and many more. Extensive work on the elusive nature of stem cells has given rise to paramount developments in regenerative medicine. Listed below are some of the most recent innovations of March 2019.
Blood That Keeps On Giving
It’s not a surprise that the body requires a continuous supply of blood throughout its circulation. Blood cells fulfill numerous vital roles in the body – ranging from supplying oxygen to tissues as red blood cells, fighting infections alongside antibodies, or preparing a clot upon injury. The smallest deficiency in these cells or excess poiesis can incur serious medical difficulties, and as a result, the body initiates a strict regulatory mechanism to prevent mismanagement. The greater question remains: when the body is unable to properly regulate its developmental factors – namely, the generation of new cells – and one is faced with cancerous-like cells, what can be done to oppose this tragedy?
What Can Be Done?
A team of researchers, led by Osaka University, has shed light on this issue by discovering a particular molecule that is key to regulating the “renewal and differentiation of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells” or HSPCs. The team investigated how the absence or dysfunction of the molecule, named Ragnase-1, affected the quality of specialization in blood cells. Fortunately, the study unveiled its nature and association with the maturation of blood cells as well as a series of adverse effects and malignancies when it is not properly functioning.
In their study, the team analyzed the HSPCs in mice to identify the genes that differed in their expression within adult and embryonic stem cells. After an intensive investigation, they narrowed down their selection to Ragnase-1, given their earlier findings of its pivotal role in differentiating another stem cell type. These analyses comprised of evaluating the state of HPSCs after deleting one or both copies. The motive was determining whether or not stem cell specialization could occur and if differentiation into different blood types was still possible. Lastly, it was necessary to consider the overall health of these mice – short-term or long-term effects could easily undermine the quality of life.
What Their Findings Revealed
Their findings showed “the deletion of both or even just one of the copies of Ragnase-1 led to abnormalities in the renewal and differentiation of HSPCs from the bone marrow.” the corresponding author Nobuyuki Takakura said. Ultimately, there were too many physiological abnormalities like weight loss and an enlarged spleen – causing many to die at a young age. The team, while looking at the mechanism of Ragnase-1, discovered it’s regulatory functions at the post-transcriptional level. This was accomplished by degrading target mRNAs, Gata2 and Tal1, which was an important process for controlling hematopoiesis in the bone marrow.
The lead author, Hiroyasu Kidoya, stated that further information provided them with an understanding regarding the activity of Ragnase-1. Evidence revealed that it is a key role in determining whether stem cells are in a dormant state, self-renewing to maintain a collection of cells that will differentiate in the future, or currently differentiating into various blood cell types depending on the needs of the body. This will contribute to a plethora of therapeutic strategies aimed at treating blood diseases such as leukemia.
Join our Stem Cell Discussion & Information Facebook Group today!
Stem Cell Secretomes
There is an extensive collection of bioactive molecules that can be secreted by mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). This collection is known as the secretome – and it has demonstrated several therapeutic benefits in regenerative medicine in pre-clinical models. Similar to amniotic fluid-derived stem cells, it has the anti-inflammatory properties and this has allowed them to replicate its qualities without the need of the stem cells themselves. Furthermore, treatment with the MSCs’ secretome could circumvent certain hurdles associated with cellular therapy.
Application and speculation of the therapeutic potential of the secretome, in pre-clinical studies, has pushed researchers to pursue regenerative medicine in urology. The main focus would be restoring functionality to those dealing with urinary stress incontinence, renal disease, bladder dysfunction, or erectile dysfunction. Although the specific mechanisms for secretomes involving the implementation of therapeutic activities aren’t entirely clear, the improvements in the current proteomic methods – proteins produced in an organism or system – are expected to be necessary in order to provide further insight into how stem cells and their secretomes function in regenerative urology.
The Potential For Kidney Renewal
Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) has scientists exploring a potential treatment for chronic kidney disease: regenerating them using therapeutic cells. The unexplored possibilities following regenerative medicine have researchers interested in harnessing the unique properties of amniotic fluid-derived stem cells. WFIRM scientists have speculated in a pre-clinical model that these cells are the future for organ construction and regeneration. “Our results indicate that this type of stem cell could be used as an off the shelf universal cell source and may provide an alternative therapeutic strategy for patients suffering from this chronic and debilitating disease.” said senior author James J. Yoo, a professor of regenerative medicine at WFIRM.
Kidney Disease In America
The results published online, ahead of print in the journal Tissue Engineering Part A., has shown that this experiment is just one of many regarding potential therapies for the treatment of kidney disease. The issue that prompted such innovative deliberation was the rampancy of kidney disease and the shortage of organs available for donation. Kidney disease is a worldwide public health issue and its symptoms can manifest either acutely or chronically.
Despite the awareness of the disease, 30 million are afflicted with chronic kidney disease and millions more at risk of developing it, according to the National Kidney Foundation. Although transplantation is one method that restores sufficient kidney function – it’s not as preventative in terms of future difficulties. If anything, it brings about its own challenges with patients dealing with rejection and life-long immunosuppression. There also aren’t enough donor organs to meet the demands if kidney disease continues at its current rate.
The Next Steps
The WFIRM scientists’ had already taken particular interest in kidney disease and were one of the first to identify and characterize stem cells derived from amniotic fluid. Since then, they have developed methods to isolate and expand those cells. Amniotic fluid-derived stem cells are held in high regard because of their ability to differentiate as well as act as anti-inflammatory agents – making them extremely valuable as sources for regeneration. Unlike pluripotent and adult stem cells, amniotic fluid-derived stem cells are not as likely to invoke an immune system response. Furthermore, their use does not lead to any risk of tumors – cancerous-like cells forming – or ethical concerns.
In an actual experiment, researchers found that once the stem cells were injected into a diseased kidney, in a pre-clinical model, it led to the improvement in kidney function after 10 weeks. Biopsy reports indicated reduced a decrease in damage around the capillaries where waste products are filtered out of the blood. Evidently, the studies demonstrated that treatment with amniotic fluid stem cells, overall, has a positive effect on the functional improvement and structural recovery of the kidneys. Sunil George, a WFIRM research fellow, and co-author has said that further research is being pursued to see if injecting more cells or engraftment will yield increased regenerative enhancement.
Learn More About Stem Cell Therapy
Download our FREE Stem Cell Report
Click below to download our free educational report, Stem Cell 101!