From 1908 when their existence was first hypothesized and the name “Stem Cell” was coined, it was then 70 years before definitive proof of their existence was shown in 1978. In the decades since then, research employing Stem Cells as treatments and therapies has exploded off the charts with research being conducted on nearly all the continents. The staff at StemCell101.com is dedicated to combing the internet, trade journals, and medical publications to bring consumers the latest information and news about this exciting and promising field.
The following are just some examples of the Worldwide Research Effort:
In March 2012 scientists at South Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) set up a facility for biomedical stem cell technology. Its gene expression and biophysics group generated the first induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) in Africa, the CSIR announced.
China holds unrestrictive policies in regard to embryonic stem cell research – one of the most unrestrictive in the world. With this atmosphere Chinese scientists who have been educated and been trained in the West have flocked back to set up stem cell research laboratories in their home country. Stem cell researchers in the West attest to the fact that stem cell research facilities and researchers in China are already world class.
In Bangalore, India, the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine (inStem) has state-of-the-art research facilities. Research at inStem includes stem cell biology, looking into mechanism that control differentiation and renewal, and impact of stem cells on recovery from stroke. Also in India, the Chaitanya Stem Cell Centre gives information on neurology, kidney, liver and many untreatable diseases. It also pushes regenerative medicine..
The following report is derived from the editorial. “New horizon in stem cell research,” of The Japan Times, February 3,2014 issue. Dr. Haruko Obokata and her team have found that body cells taken from mice can be reprogrammed into stem cells by exposing them to low-PH acid liquids. This new way of reprogramming adult cells into pluripotent cells (embryonic stem cells) is called “stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency” or STAP. The STAP method is easier than that used by Dr. Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University, co-recipient with Sir John Gurdon of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2012. In 2006 Yamanaka produced embryonic stem cells out of mouse skin by introducing four genes as growth factors. The cells are called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC). Yamanaka and his team did the same on human skin cells in 2007. STAP cells can form placenta which iPSC cannot do. “It is hoped that more efforts will be made so that the discovery will lead to the advancement of regenerative medicine.”
The Stem Cell Research Center (SCRC) is a government-funded organization that supports stem cell research.The SCRC acts is a funding agency with 52 projects throughout South Korea. A national network, the Korean Society for Stem Cell Research, has been set up to facilitate stem cell research. The Stem Cell Research Center is the biggest stem cell center supported by Ministry of Science and Technology. Several other centers are supported by ministries like the Ministry of Health and Welfare. Several non-government organizations support stem cell research.
Some stem cell research trials being conducted in Australia include…..
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- Condition: Graft Versus Host Disease. Mesenchymal Stromal Cells for Acute Graft Versus Host Disease. The trial plans to enrol 66 patients by December 2015 and to be completed by December 2016.
- Condition: Osteoarthritis. HiQCell Joint Registry in Patients with Osteoarthritis Following the HiQCell Procedure. The first patients underwent this procedure in July 2012.
- Condition: Brain tumours. Gene Therapy and Chemotherapy for the Treatment of Childhood Brain Tumours. The trial commenced in July 2012.
- Condition: Bone repair. Cranial Reconstruction Using Mesenchymal Stromal Cells and Resorbable Biomaterials. This trial is conducted at the Royal Perth Hospital in Western Australia from January 2013 to December 2015.
- Condition: Leukaemia. Pilot Study of Partially Human Leucocyte Antigen-Mismatched Stem Cell Infusions after Chemotherapy for Acute Myeloid Leukaemia.
- Condition: Osteoarthritis. The Osteoarthritis Stem Cell Advanced Research Study. This trial is conducted by the Rheumatology Department of the Royal North Shore Hospital St Leonards in New South Wales and Regeneus Pty Ltd. (Internet. March 10,2014)
Belgian medical researchers succeeded in repairing bones using stem cells from fatty tissue.
The Saint Luc university clinic hospital in Brussels has a team that “has treated 11 patients, eight of them children, with fractures or bone defects that their bodies could not repair….” This was reported by the university on January 14, 2014. The breakthrough technique of Saint Luc’s centre for tissue and cellular therapy consists in removing a “sugar cube sized piece of fatty tissue from the patient, a less invasive process than pushing a needle into the pelvis and with a stem cell concentration they say is some 500 times higher.”
“The national assembly of France has voted to a lift a ban on embryonic stem cell research, which could pave the way for crucial scientific developments.” (France lifts its ban on embyonic stem cell reserch by Rebecca Taylor | Paris, France | LifeNews.com | 7/17/13)
I-Stem is the largest French laboratory for research and development devoted to embryonic origin obtained by reprogramming gene. It is a collaboration between Inserm – National Institute of Health and Medical Research – and AFM-Telethon – French Association against Myopathies.
Germany defines stem cell research as “the scientific study of embryonic, fetal, adult, as well as induced pluripotent stem cells of living organisms of all kinds. By definition, stem cells are cells that are not yet fully developed and therefore have the potential to differentiate into different cell types.” In the medical and biological fields findings in stem cell research are obtained and turned to benefit consumers. The ultimate goal is regenerating defective organs.
Spain has a comprehensive regulatory framework for stem cell research, consisting of laws and regulations on stem cell research. One partner in research is the Centre for Genomic Regulation. This is reported by “Regulation of stem cell research in Spain,” updated in August 2012.
Stem cell researchers of the United Kingdom “fertilised (the) first animal and then human eggs outside the body; a discovery that led to the creation of embryos outside the body and the subsequent birth of the first ‘test-tube baby’ (in vitro fertilisation) in 1978.” (www.mrc-centre.cam.ac.uk)
A British researcher, Sir John Gurdon, opened the door for animal cloning with the reprogramming of frog egg nucleus. He is co-winner of Shinya Yamanaka of Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2012 for their stem cell research.
The UK had pioneered in setting up a stem cell bank. “Set up in 2002 and partly funded by the MRC, the bank reduces the requirement for surplus embryos for the development of stem cell lines by individual research groups” (Internet. March 10,2014).
Researchers will go into guided differentiation into desired adult cells like muscles of the heart.
The potential of stem cells in screening drugs will be looked into. This may reduce the need to go through animal testing.
The Research Councils and Technology Strategy Board have agreed to develop regenerative medicine.
In 1963, Canadian scientists James Till and Ernest McCulloch identified and named stem cells. Since then Canadians have been at the forefront of scientific research, according to CBC digital archives (Internet March 10,2014).
Dr. Andras Nagy and his colleagues at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital developed a method of turning skin cell into stem cells.” The new reprogramming method replaces a process that until now was done using viruses and carried the risk of damaging cell DNA and causing cancer.”
Stem cell DNA are inserted into a skin cell and ”removed after the skin cell transforms into a stem cell.” The produced stem cells are safer; the use of embryonic stem cells is not needed. This was announced in 2009 (Internet. March 10, 2014)
“US President Barack Obama has reversed some barriers to human embryonic stem cell research,” in March 2009. This reversed the ban by Pres. Bill Clinton in 1995 owing to the ethical controversy over the use of human embryonic stem cells, according to the editorial of the Nature Cell Biology in 2010. “On August 23, 2012, in a decision favorable to proponents of embryonic stem cell research, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit… (dismissed) a lawsuit that challenged the Obama administration’s expansion of federal funding for embryonic stem cell research” (Internet, March 10,2014).”…Much remains to be done to ensure that stem cell research flourishes in the US in the coming decades,” the editorial said.
With the advent of the use of induced pluripotent stem cells research in stem cell therapy has advanced. However, since this therapy is considered to fall under drugs by the Food and Drug Administration of the USA, it will take long before this therapy becomes available to US consumers.
The Stem Cell Institute “arose from the unmet need to provide stem cell therapies that have been shown by others to meet the bar of safety in Phase I trials, but are not yet widely available because efficacy has not been proven.” It was founded by Neil Riordan, Ph.D. who comes from an American biotechnology company. Since 2006 the Institute has treated over 1800 patients. Dr. Riordan is the inventor of a nutritional supplement for use in stem cell therapy – Stem-Kine. It increases the population of stem cells and endothelium progenitor cells (EPC) in the bone marrow. EPCs circulate the stem cells to home to damaged part of the body and promotes healing.
“We collaborate with doctors and scientists at major universities in the US, Canada, and Costa Rica; including the University of California, San Diego, University of Utah, University of Western Ontario, University of Florida, University of Massachusetts, and the University of Costa Rica. We are in the planning stages of performing clinical trials in collaboration with New York University and the University of Miami” according to the Stem Cell Institute (Internet. March 10,2014).
The Brazilian government has set up a national Review Board system to increase research activity and the prospect of treating chronic and degenerative diseases using cell therapy since 2010.
The Science and Technology Department of the Ministry of Health in collaboration with the National Research Council have funded more than 100 projects since 2005. Several groups constitute the Brazilian Cell Therapy Network to promote interaction among research laboratories. “Around US$50 million have been disbursed to the Network by the government between 2005 and 2010” (Internet. March 10,2014).