Time Heals All Wounds: 2018 Holds Several Surprises for Stem Cell Research
Deep within the human body is the power to heal. Yes, most of us already have the components to heal our own ailments, and stem cells are the catalyst that trigger these natural abilities.
Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs), obtained from our bone marrow, blood, or fatty tissues such as the abdominal region, can be used to target and treat damaged areas of the body. MSC cells possess multipotent power and can morph into a variety of specialized cells.
The ability to become any of several mature cell types is especially beneficial in the field of orthopedics where healthy bone cells (osteoblasts) and cartilage cells (chondrocytes) are being put to work remedying musculoskeletal maladies.
In addition to stimulating tissue repair, stem cells are now seen as beneficial for 3D printing because they can fabricate healthy structural tissues.
You may have seen a 3D printer, but have you ever associated this technology with the field of medicine? With the guidance of a computer file, 3D printers can create a three-dimensional object, layer by layer.
By marrying the fields of engineering, physics, cell biology and medicine, 3D bio-printing is now being utilized for generating a host of tissues, from skin and bones to cartilage. These tissues can then be used as guinea pigs, so to speak, to test a variety of pills and drugs.
One area that was stalling scientific growth was difficulties with “bio ink” – that is, the material used for cell culturing. Researchers in Osaka University are experimenting with a new stem cell ink polymer derived from horseradish (of all things). Not only is horseradish peroxidase compatible with modern bio-printers, it also plays nicely with most cells – unlike hydrogen peroxide, which was formerly used and was notorious for damaging cells.
In 2018, researchers will continue to make strides in stem cell replacement therapy. Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy – the most fatal, genetic childhood disease – is one disorder that will greatly benefit from these scientific advancements.
According to a UCLA study, scientists are now able to isolate, grow, and transplant stronger musculoskeletal cells. For those affected by Duchenne, this means obtaining new muscle fibers with added dystrophin – the missing protein that leads to the breakdown of muscle in this debilitating, degenerative disease.
CRISPR and Genetic Editing
Genetic editing is another major focus in the field of stem cell research. And while it sounds like the plot of a new science fiction movie, in the coming years, it will be hitting quite close to home.
The technology for genetic editing has been around for several years; however, cutting-edge editing tools like CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) are making it possible to program parts of the genetic code.
According to the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine, this will be a game-changer for scientists when it comes to comprehending, treating, and even preventing hereditary diseases.
Nobody can argue with the advantages stem cell therapy holds for those facing injury or disease.
Medical offices such as Tarpon Orthopedics in Plano, Texas, are harnessing these life-changing procedures to heal a host of musculoskeletal disorders. If you’re looking for an alternative to surgery, or simply want to find out how you can benefit from these technologies, call 972-596-1059 for more information, or request an appointment online.