Stem Cells in the News – September 2018
Friday, August 31, 2018 - 09:30
We have captured this month's most interesting, innovative, and maybe some of the strangest examples of stem cells in the news from around the world.
A new study published in Tissue Engineering this month suggests that platelet-rich-plasma (PRP) does not promote or enhance mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) proliferation, which was previously thought to be a mechanism for cartilage repair in degenerative joint diseases. The research team show that long term elevated levels of PRP impair cartilage-making abilities of MSCs and reduce differentiation to chondrocytes. The study sought to elucidate the effects of PRP on joint repair to determine its necessity in the growing mesenchymal cell therapy industry.
Bioprinting calcium phosphates is currently the most widely accepted bone-substitute in 3-D bioprinting. However, the ability to scaffold live cells within this material is limited and impairs function. This study sought to evaluate the use of soft cell-laden hydrogels (or bioinks) to combine 3-D bioprinting with the cellularization of MSCs as a new bone replacement technology. The study found that MSC cellularization improves osteochondral tissue grafts and suggests this biphasic hydrogel as an alternative for future studies.
Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a nanohydrogel that aids in the delivery of muscle stem cells in a mouse model of Duchene muscular dystrophy. This hydrogel not only helps boost muscle regeneration, it also protects the muscle stem cells from attack by the immune system, which can weaken or destroy muscle stem cells when administered without the hydrogel. This technique could improve both quality of life and halt muscle disease progression in humans.
Understanding the types of mutations present in induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) helps researchers predict the influence on gene expression that can affect expansion and differentiation. In a recent Cell Reports article, researchers from the University of California San Diego studied the mutational burden of 18 different iPSC lines and identified four different mutational classes and their downstream effects on further cell manipulation. The authors are hoping to build a repository of mutation information on iPSCs to further advance the field in the future by allowing researchers to strategically select lines with less mutational load.
A new method for the expansion of adult hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) has been published by researchers at the University of Kansas. The method greatly reduces spontaneous differentiation in ex vivo culture by targeting a single protein that affects the mRNA dictating the ability of HSCs to replicate without differentiation. This method could make HSCs more accessible for future cell therapies against blood cancers, immune diseases, and genetic disorders and reduce the need for bone marrow donors to be located.
A research team from the Kazan Federal University have uncovered that adipose-derived MSCs, when combined with a fibrin matrix, have a profound effect on a rat model of spinal cord injury. The MSC-fibrin complex was found to improve restoration of motor function, astroglial activation, and pathological cavities better than MSCs alone. Isolation of MSCs from fat can provide an abundant source of autologous stem cells for cell therapy. These features are important in spinal cord injuries, which often have better outcomes with immediate treatments. The team hopes to move into clinical trials in the future.
While arsenic may have a bad rap historically as a poison, it has also been found to cause cancer at certain doses. Researchers at Harvard Medical School have uncovered a mechanism of cancer stem cell (CSC) destruction in triple negative breast cancers utilizing a combination dose of arsenic and a chemotherapy traditionally used for leukemias. The pathway specifically targets the enzyme Pin1 to inhibit metastatic pathways and obliterate the CSC population in both animal and patient-derived tumor trials. This finding opens the door to explore blending old and new medicines which could hold promise for several currently devastating cancers.
In a recent publication, stem cells were used to develop embyros that have the ability to undergo gastrulation, a key step in the formation of life. The method combines three types of stem cells that self-organize into the structures needed for gastrulation on a scaffold in vitro. The team at Cambridge University hope to use this new methodology to study when and why it can go wrong, leading to recurrent miscarriages.
It has previously been determined that Curcumin is an effective agent in killing cancer stem cells. However, Curcumin is highly insoluble, limiting its uses in actual treatment of tumors. A team of researchers at the University of Illinois have developed a complex to improve the solubility of this compound for testing as a potential treatment option. This new metallocyclic-complex utilizes platinum to increase Curcumin's solubility. The team has shown this complex increases the effectiveness of the Curcumin to treat cancers like melanomas and breast cancer tumor cells in a mouse model. This finding could open the door for treatment options and a new, highly effective CSC killer.
During advanced Diabetes mellitus, limb loss or tissue necrosis is often observed. MSC transplantation holds promise to recover damaged tissue, but autologous MSCs can exhibit impaired differentiation, reduced proliferation, and reduced migration. Researchers from Seville, Spain have demonstrated that platelet-derived growth factor BB (PDGF-BB) reverses these MSC-defects when administered to patient-isolated MSCs. This finding has promise to improve quality of life and restore function for patients with advancing disease.
A new method for the in vitro differentiation of astrocytes from embryonic stem cells (ESCs) claims to reduce the differentiation time from months to two weeks. A recently published paper out of Lund University utilized viruses to activate genes in ESCs to influence development into astrocytes. The team has shown that these cells are genetically and functionally similar to adult astrocytes isolated from the brains of healthy adults. They hope to further test this method and utilize them in mouse studies of Alzheimer's and Alexander disease.