Stemedix https://stemedix.com Adult Stem Cell Therapy Treatment in Florida USA Mon, 28 Oct 2019 17:03:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Using Stem Cells to Rebuild the Heart after a Heart Attack: Clinical Trial Results https://stemedix.com/blog/using-stem-cells-to-rebuild-the-heart-after-a-heart-attack-clinical-trial-results/ Fri, 15 Nov 2019 14:00:43 +0000 https://stemedix.com/?p=9580 A myocardial infarction, commonly known as a heart attack, occurs when blood flow through the coronary arteries is blocked. A heart attack usually happens to people with atherosclerotic coronary heart disease, which narrows one or more of the coronary arteries. A blood clot becomes lodged in the narrowed artery, preventing blood from reaching the heart...

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A myocardial infarction, commonly known as a heart attack, occurs when blood flow through the coronary arteries is blocked. A heart attack usually happens to people with atherosclerotic coronary heart disease, which narrows one or more of the coronary arteries. A blood clot becomes lodged in the narrowed artery, preventing blood from reaching the heart muscle. Because the heart needs a virtually constant supply of oxygen-rich blood to survive, an interruption in blood flow to the heart can quickly cause muscle cells to die.

Dead heart muscle cells cannot help the heart pump blood. Thus, people who suffer a heart attack are often left with “weak” hearts. Instead of strongly squeezing blood out of the heart to the rest of the body, a larger portion of the blood remains in the heart (i.e. reduced ejection fraction). People who have had a heart attack that reduces ejection fraction commonly develop a condition known as congestive heart failure.

People with congestive heart failure often have difficult lives. Congestive heart failure patients periodically experience exacerbations that require hospitalization. They are put on restrictive diets; their salt and fluid intakes are limited. They must also take several different medications to help the heart pump blood through the arteries to the body and keep fluid levels in the body low. These medications do not heal or replace dead heart muscle cells. Instead, they make the remaining cells work harder (or decrease resistance in the arteries, or help the body eliminate fluid through urination).

What is needed is a way to regenerate dead heart muscle cells. Fortunately, several research groups are working on ways to use stem cells to regenerate heart muscle cells so that heart attack patients can regain heart muscle function.

There have been at least 11 clinical trials studying the effects of stem cells on patients with myocardial infarction. The trials show that stem cell infusion into the vein, the coronary artery, or the heart muscle itself is safe and well-tolerated by patients. Notably among the studies, patients with acute myocardial infarction who received allogeneic human mesenchymal cells intravenously had a better ejection fraction, better heart structure, and better lung function after six months than those who received a placebo. In the APOLLO trial, patients with acute myocardial infarction who received adipose-derived mesenchymal cells had half the dead heart muscle cells than those who received a placebo (i.e. lesion volume was 50% lower in treated patients).

Phase III clinical trials are considered definitive (pivotal) evidence of benefit. In phase III C-CURE trial, patients with heart failure due to coronary artery disease received autologous mesenchymal cells (i.e. their own cells, specially prepared). Treated patients enjoyed significantly increased ejection fraction (heart-pumping ability) and better functional capacity and quality of life. Other Phase II clinical trials (ADVANCE, CONCERT-CHF, TRIDENT, POSEIDON-DCM) are ongoing.

These results are welcome news for patients who suffer—or will one day suffer—from a heart attack, an event that happens in 735,000 Americans every year.

 

 

 

Reference: Golpanian, S. et al. (2016). Rebuilding the Damaged Heart: Mesenchymal Stem Cells, Cell-Based Therapy, and Engineered Heart Tissue. Physiological Reviews. 2016 Jul; 96(3): 1127–1168

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Exosomes Help Regenerate Intervertebral Disc Tissue: Implications For Degenerative Disc Disease https://stemedix.com/blog/exosomes-help-regenerate-intervertebral-disc-tissue-implications-for-degenerative-disc-disease/ Wed, 13 Nov 2019 14:00:04 +0000 https://stemedix.com/?p=9576 The spinal column is made up of more than a dozen vertebral bones stacked on top of each other. Since the spine is not a single bone, it is capable of pivoting and bending, which gives the torso a degree of flexibility. A key part of this structure relies on the substance between the vertebral...

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The spinal column is made up of more than a dozen vertebral bones stacked on top of each other. Since the spine is not a single bone, it is capable of pivoting and bending, which gives the torso a degree of flexibility. A key part of this structure relies on the substance between the vertebral bones called the intravertebral disc.

The intravertebral disc is made up of the annulus fibrosis (the tough outer ring) and the nucleus pulposus (the jelly-like inner core). Each intervertebral disc acts as a shock absorber between the vertebral bones. Over time and with age, however, the intervertebral disc tends to breakdown. This can cause called degenerative disc disease, which includes herniated discs (“slipped discs”), pinched nerves, neck and back pain, and nerve problems.  Obviously, finding ways to reverse or prevent intravertebral discs from breaking down is of great medical and scientific interest and for the countless patients with degenerative disc disease.

As with other groups interested in regenerative medicine, researchers have turned to stem cells in an effort to regenerate tissue within the intravertebral disc. One research group reported their recent success using bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells. The scientists collected exosomes—very small packets filled with highly concentrated molecules such as proteins, microRNA, transcription factors and lipids—from these stem cells. In this study, researchers also collected exosomes from nucleus pulposus cells and tested the exosomes in various ways.

The researchers found that exosomes could send out signals to bone marrow mesenchymal cells and call them to the intervertebral disc. The exosomes also prompted the stem cells to become new nucleus pulposus-like cells. Conversely, exosomes from bone marrow mesenchymal cells caused nucleus pulposus cells to grow and multiply (i.e. proliferate). Finally, exosomes helped the tissue in degenerating vertebral discs to express the same genes as healthy discs.

While these results are complex, they suggest that exosomes from bone marrow mesenchymal cells and nucleus pulposus cells work together to recruit and make more healthy cells in degenerating vertebral discs. This could have profound implications for the millions of people with degenerative disc disease. If these results are confirmed in clinical trials, it would mean that exosomes could be used to prevent or reverse degenerative disc disease. We anxiously await further work in this exciting field.

 

 

Reference: Kang L. et al. (2017). Exosomes as potential alternatives to stem cell therapy for intervertebral disc degeneration: in-vitro study on exosomes in interaction of nucleus pulposus cells and bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells. Stem Cell Research Therapy. 2017; 8: 108.

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What Is Intermittent Fasting? https://stemedix.com/blog/what-is-intermittent-fasting/ Mon, 11 Nov 2019 14:00:11 +0000 https://stemedix.com/?p=9583 If you’ve been looking for ways to reduce your calorie intake and lose weight, you may have come across the term “intermittent fasting,” or IF. While it may seem like just another fad diet, many experts agree that this eating pattern may actually hold up to its claims. Not only is IF safe and effective,...

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If you’ve been looking for ways to reduce your calorie intake and lose weight, you may have come across the term “intermittent fasting,” or IF. While it may seem like just another fad diet, many experts agree that this eating pattern may actually hold up to its claims. Not only is IF safe and effective, but it could also play an important role in diabetes prevention. The catch is that it’s all in how you approach IF – discover some important tips below.

A Beginner’s Guide to Intermittent Fasting


What Is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting isn’t an entirely new concept, but it was only recently popularized after a number of documentaries and books hailing the practice emerged from 2012 to 2016. The concept is simple: IF encourages eating only during a limited window of time, then fasting during the “off” hours.

In between meals, our body breaks down food and uses it as energy. When we don’t use all of this energy, however, it enters the cells, where it gets stored as fat. Yet, for sugar to enter the cells, insulin must be present. When we give our bodies a break from eating, insulin levels drop, and fat cells release built-up sugar to be used as energy. As a result, fasting encourages insulin levels to go down, thereby promoting weight loss.

What’s the Best Way to Approach It?

As with many well-known diets, there are different approaches to IF. Some advocates for the diet recommend fasting every other day, but many individuals find this approach too restrictive. Luckily, there are other, more sustainable approaches to try.

Most IF plans fall into an eight- or 12-hour window. In the first, you’d be able to eat within an eight-hour time frame, then fast for the other 16 hours of the day. In the second, you’d have 12 hours to eat and 12 to fast. Research suggests the more restrictive window may have a greater payoff: according to a 2018 study conducted by the University of Alabama, men with prediabetes who practiced “early time-restricted feeding” by having all of their meals between 7 am and 3 pm had drastically lower insulin levels than their peers who followed the 12-hour method, eating between 7 am and 7 pm. Their appetites had also reduced significantly.

Of course, IF is unlikely to yield any noticeable benefits if you fill your eight- or 12-hour eating period with high-calorie, nutritionally-poor food choices. Yet, if you’re following a sensible diet prioritizing vegetables and fruits, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean protein, you may notice some improvement by restricting your “eating window.”

As with any diet, IF is also only as effective as your ability to stick with it. If you’re interested in trying it, you might start with a manageable 12-hour window, such as 10 am to 6 pm. Or, simply adopt some of the principles from intermittent fasting if fasting seems too restrictive to you: avoid snacking between meals by taking in enough nutrient-dense calories during your meals and try not to eat after dinner. And, as with any diet, be sure to get the okay from your physician before starting IF.

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The Surprising Link Between Bile Pigment & Brain Cell Protection https://stemedix.com/blog/the-surprising-link-between-bile-pigment-brain-cell-protection/ Mon, 04 Nov 2019 14:00:58 +0000 https://stemedix.com/?p=9383 Bilirubin, a pigment found in bile, is best known for lending itself to the yellow hue seen in the skin of people with jaundice. Yet, recent research shows that this pigment could play a surprising role in protecting brain cells against the damage caused by oxidative stress. Recently, Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers reported that, in...

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Bilirubin, a pigment found in bile, is best known for lending itself to the yellow hue seen in the skin of people with jaundice. Yet, recent research shows that this pigment could play a surprising role in protecting brain cells against the damage caused by oxidative stress.

Recently, Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers reported that, in mice studies, the compound was found in high doses in the brain. Bilirubin is known to be found in the liver and the blood and is often used as a measure to look for disease. While it has previously been unknown whether the compound has an effect on healthy people, researchers were surprised to discover bilirubin in “exceptional levels” within mouse brains. In fact, its concentration was five to 10 times higher than it is in their livers.

Researchers note that while bilirubin was originally deemed a waste product, the body uses a significant amount of metabolic energy to produce the compound. It, therefore, seemed strange for it to have no function. Thus, the researchers set out to discover why there would be so much bilirubin present in the brain. Because the brain is both metabolically active yet vulnerable to oxidative damage, they thought that the compound could serve as an important antioxidant.

To test their theory, they genetically engineered mouse neurons to not produce bilirubin. They then exposed the neurons to different sources of oxidative stress. Compared to normal mouse neurons, these cells were much more vulnerable to stressors, and in particular, were damaged by a chemical cell messenger called superoxide. While superoxide is important for learning and memory, it can lead to oxidative stress and brain damage in abnormally high levels. Uncontrolled superoxide levels could be caused by excessive neuron activity. According to the researchers, the study findings suggest that bilirubin may be integral to controlling superoxide levels within the brain.

Although research is still in its infancy, the team believes their discovery could help to uncover new treatment options for neurodegenerative diseases. In specific, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases are characterized by high levels of oxidative stress and superoxide, so this finding could be particularly useful for researching new therapies for these conditions.

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Stem Cells Restore Erectile Function after Prostate Removal Surgery https://stemedix.com/blog/stem-cells-restore-erectile-function-after-prostate-removal-surgery/ Wed, 30 Oct 2019 13:00:09 +0000 https://stemedix.com/?p=9361 For some men with prostate cancer, surgery to remove the prostate gland can be curative. The surgery to remove the entire prostate gland, called radical prostatectomy, can improve survival. If performed early, radical prostatectomy can prevent metastatic prostate cancer. While men who qualify for this surgery often jump at a chance to cure prostate cancer,...

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For some men with prostate cancer, surgery to remove the prostate gland can be curative. The surgery to remove the entire prostate gland, called radical prostatectomy, can improve survival. If performed early, radical prostatectomy can prevent metastatic prostate cancer. While men who qualify for this surgery often jump at a chance to cure prostate cancer, radical prostatectomy comes with a price—it almost always causes erectile dysfunction.

Even under the best surgical conditions, most men experience at least temporary erectile dysfunction after radical prostatectomy. While some men can regain erectile function by using oral ED treatments, as many as 3 out of 5 men continue to have poor erections and/or difficulty with orgasm months to years after radical prostatectomy.

In an attempt to find a way to treat this serious issue, researchers in France conducted a clinical trial to test whether mononuclear cells treatment could improve erectile function in men who had undergone radical prostatectomy and developed erectile dysfunction (INSTIN, INtra-cavernous STem-cell INjection clinical trial, NCT01089387). Mononuclear cells are a type of stem cell that can become many other cells, including nerve or blood vessels cells. The researchers collected mononuclear cells from the bone marrow of affected men and injected these cells into the patient’s own penile tissue (i.e. autologous stem cell infusion). The researchers then followed the men for 6 to 12 months to track whether the mononuclear cells helped improve erectile function.

The first phase of the phase 1/2 clinical trial was designed to assess the safety of the treatment. No patients in the trial experienced any side effects from treatment. Likewise, prostate cancer did not return any of the men within one year after treatment (and perhaps longer, the men were only followed for one year at the time of the report).

Within six months of treatment, men treated with the bone marrow stem cells had a significantly better erectile function and satisfaction with sexual intercourse. While the benefit was still present after the 12 months, the erectile function was not quite as good as it was at six months after treatment. This suggests injections may need to be repeated every six months to maintain maximal benefit.

These results are incredibly encouraging for men with erectile dysfunction caused by radical prostatectomy. While future clinical trials should contain a control group and larger numbers of men, these phase 1/2 clinical trial results pave the way for such research. These findings also suggest men who have life-saving prostate cancer surgery may be able to regain erectile function after surgery through stem cell treatment.

 

 

Reference: Yiou, R. et al. (2017). Intracavernous Injections of Bone Marrow Mononucleated Cells for Postradical Prostatectomy Erectile Dysfunction: Final Results of the INSTIN Clinical Trial. European Urology Focus. 2017 Dec;3(6):643-645.

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Can Flavonoids Help Lung Function Decline? https://stemedix.com/blog/can-flavonoids-help-lung-function-decline/ Tue, 29 Oct 2019 13:00:44 +0000 https://stemedix.com/?p=9380 A decline in lung function can be both age-related and result from a disease, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Although there are medications available to help patients manage the symptoms of COPD, the disease has no cure. Thus, for both age-related and COPD-related decline in lung function, patients are limited in terms of...

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A decline in lung function can be both age-related and result from a disease, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Although there are medications available to help patients manage the symptoms of COPD, the disease has no cure. Thus, for both age-related and COPD-related decline in lung function, patients are limited in terms of their treatment options.

Recently, researchers discovered a potential therapy in flavonoids for improving lung function. This group of phytonutrients is found in nearly all vegetables and fruits and is known to have powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. While there have been plenty of previous research showcasing flavonoids’ abilities in medical applications, studies on their effect on lung function have been limited.

In the most recent research, investigators focused on anthocyanins, a type of flavonoid which has been found in lung tissue shortly after being ingested. Based on findings, it appears that the plant chemicals may play an important role in minimizing mucus and inflammatory secretions. Study participants who consumed the most anthocyanins experienced improvements in a number of key lung function indicators over their peers, including a slower rate of decline in FEV1, which measures how much air a person can exhale in a second. They also experienced a slower rate of decline in FVC, the amount of air exhaled after taking a deep breath. Benefits were realized across people who had smoked as well as those who had not.

Good Sources of Anthocyanins

While the researchers note that quitting is the best choice smokers can make to improve their lung function, a diet rich in anthocyanins could be an effective way to boost lung function in former smokers and people who have never smoked. Anthocyanins are found naturally in red onions, berries, grapes, tomatoes, acai, kidney beans, and tart cherries.

 

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Adipose-Derived Stem Cells Show Potential in Patients with Osteoporosis https://stemedix.com/blog/adipose-derived-stem-cells-show-potential-in-patients-with-osteoporosis/ Fri, 25 Oct 2019 13:00:49 +0000 https://stemedix.com/?p=9358 Osteoporosis is a disease in which bones become weak, brittle, and are prone to fracture. While osteoporosis is commonly considered a disease of low bone density, it is actually more complex and extensive than that. New bone is constantly formed and destroyed (resorbed) throughout life. In osteoporosis, however, the rate at which it is resorbed...

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Osteoporosis is a disease in which bones become weak, brittle, and are prone to fracture. While osteoporosis is commonly considered a disease of low bone density, it is actually more complex and extensive than that. New bone is constantly formed and destroyed (resorbed) throughout life. In osteoporosis, however, the rate at which it is resorbed accelerates, while the rate at which it is formed slows down. In other words, bone is being destroyed faster than it can be formed. This process changes the size and shape of bones and alters its microarchitecture (i.e. the structure of bone on a microscopic level).

Without screening, most people will not know that they have osteoporosis until they have a bone fracture. Bones simply get weaker until some minor trauma causes one or more bones to break. Fortunately, efforts to screen for the disease (e.g. DXA/DEXA or bone density scans) have helped doctors diagnose cases of osteoporosis before the disease progresses to the point of bone fracture.

The main treatment for osteoporosis is a class of drugs called bisphosphonates. Bisphosphonates block the cells that resorb bone (osteoclasts) to allow the cells that form new bone (osteoblasts) to catch up. While bisphosphonates are effective, many patients experience severe GI side effects from these drugs including reflux, esophagitis, and ulcers, and cannot take them.

In an effort to find new ways to treat osteoporosis and help patients who cannot tolerate bisphosphonates, researchers are exploring the possibility of using stem cells to treat the disease. Ideally, one would take stem cells from patients, purify them, get the cells to multiply in the lab, and inject them back into patients with osteoporosis to help regrow bone. What has been unclear was whether a person with osteoporosis still has enough healthy stem cells to effectively regrow bone.

To test this, Dr. Jiang and colleagues collected stem cells from fat tissue of patients with osteoporosis (i.e. adipose-derived stem cells). The researchers took these stem cells and encouraged them to grow and multiply for 14 days. After the stem cells had proliferated, they injected the cells into mice and studied the effects on bone growth. After 4 weeks, the researchers saw evidence on X-ray scans that adipose-derived stem cells caused new bone growth.

These results demonstrate that even patients with osteoporosis still possess stem cells that can be used to treat their own osteoporosis. While the stem cells need to be treated in a laboratory setting for 14 days, it is potentially possible to use a patient’s own stem cells to regrow bone and treat their osteoporosis.

The next phase of research will be to conduct a clinical trial to show test whether autologous stem cell treatment (injecting a patient with their own stem cells) can regrow bone in humans. While those clinical studies will be critical in determining whether this approach is practical and effective for patients, this laboratory research is very promising.

 

 

Reference: Jiang, M. et al. (2014). Bone formation in adipose-derived stem cells isolated from elderly patients with osteoporosis: a preliminary study. Cell Biology International. 2014 Jan;38(1):97-105.

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Autologous Stem Cell Treatment Research with a Youthful Approach https://stemedix.com/blog/autologous-stem-cell-treatment-research-with-a-youthful-approach/ Wed, 23 Oct 2019 13:00:43 +0000 https://stemedix.com/?p=9355 Autologous stem cell treatments offer several advantages over other forms of stem cell treatment. In autologous stem cell treatment, a patient’s own stem cells are retrieved, processed, and injected back into the patient’s body. There is no need for a stem cell donor, and the entire procedure can take place in the same medical office....

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Autologous stem cell treatments offer several advantages over other forms of stem cell treatment. In autologous stem cell treatment, a patient’s own stem cells are retrieved, processed, and injected back into the patient’s body. There is no need for a stem cell donor, and the entire procedure can take place in the same medical office. Since the patient’s own cells are used for an autologous stem cell treatment, there is no risk of disease transmission from a donor (because there is no donor) and no risk of rejection (because they are the patient’s own stem cells).

Unfortunately, younger stem cells are better for regenerative medicine than older stem cells are. Moreover, older people have fewer stem cells that can be harvested than they did when they were younger. So while autologous stem cell treatment is still advantageous, it becomes more difficult to achieve as patients get older because their stem cells are fewer and less potent. Making matters worse, older stem cells compete against more youthful stem cells, making autologous stem cell treatments potentially even less effective in older patients.

Fortunately, stem cell researchers are coming up with ways to make the most out of the stem cells that older patients still have. They still take a sample of tissue, such as fat, and harvest the stem cells contained within it. However, instead of injecting all stem cells from the sample (both older and youthful stem cells), researchers select and use only youthful stem cells. Furthermore, they make the treatments even more effective by injecting other substances (e.g. extracellular matrix) that helps youthful stem cells survive, grow, and thrive.

To demonstrate the effectiveness of their approach, researchers collected mesenchymal stem cells from about a dozen older individuals aged 65 to 86 years old. They then assorted the stem cells into different groups, separating youthful from older stem cells. They then used special factors to help the youthful stem cells grow, increasing the numbers by an impressive 17,000 times. So while only 8% of stem cells produced by older individuals are “youthful,” this laboratory process increased those numbers to a point that they can be used for stem cell treatments—even stored for future use!

The next phase of the research will be to inject these youthful stem cells into older patients and assess their effectiveness. However, even these preliminary results are exciting, because they suggest that people of all ages can potentially benefit from autologous stem cell treatments, not just middle age and younger individuals.

 

 

Reference: Block, TJ et al. (2017). Restoring the quantity and quality of elderly human mesenchymal stem cells for autologous cell-based therapies. Stem Cell Research and Therapy. 2017 Oct 27;8(1):239.

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Could Estrogen Alleviate Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms? https://stemedix.com/blog/could-estrogen-alleviate-parkinsons-disease-symptoms/ Mon, 21 Oct 2019 13:00:48 +0000 https://stemedix.com/?p=9377 Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a progressive nervous system condition which is diagnosed in more than 50,000 Americans each year. The disease affects movement and occurs when nerve cells in the brain don’t produce enough of the brain chemical dopamine. Patients with Parkinson’s disease experience the death of neurons involved with the movement, which may lead...

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Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a progressive nervous system condition which is diagnosed in more than 50,000 Americans each year. The disease affects movement and occurs when nerve cells in the brain don’t produce enough of the brain chemical dopamine.

Patients with Parkinson’s disease experience the death of neurons involved with the movement, which may lead to symptoms such as tremors, mobility challenges, slow movement, muscle rigidity, and speech changes. Cell death may be partially caused by a mutation for the protein α-synuclein (αS). While the mutated protein tends to cluster in neurons, ultimately causing their death, the normal protein resists clumping.

Researchers are now investigating whether estrogen could help to protect these movement neurons against clumping in people with PD.

Parkinson’s disease is most commonly seen in men and postmenopausal women, both of whom have low estrogen levels. While researchers still aren’t sure precisely how estrogen may act as a protective agent to safeguard movement neurons, studies have shown that brain-selective estrogen improved PD symptoms in mice. In the studies, the mice treated with estrogen therapy showed a higher rate of surviving neurons, as well as benefits in motor performance. It’s therefore suspected that estrogen treatment could be an effective therapy for delaying and reducing symptoms.

The exact causes of Parkinson’s disease are still being researched. While the condition can be genetic, most cases do not appear to run in families. As with many conditions, experts believe that environmental factors, including exposure to chemicals, could contribute to the disease. While there is still further research to be done both on the disease in general and the potential benefits of estrogen therapy, these most recent findings suggest that estrogen could hold promise as an emerging treatment for men and menopausal women with Parkinson’s disease.

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Treating Erectile Dysfunction with Stem Cells after Prostate Removal https://stemedix.com/blog/treating-erectile-dysfunction-with-stem-cells-after-prostate-removal/ Fri, 18 Oct 2019 13:00:24 +0000 https://stemedix.com/?p=9351 Prostate cancer is quite common among men in the United States. The main treatment options for prostate cancer include: External beam radiation – Radiation is applied to the prostate gland through the skin (noninvasive) Brachytherapy – Radioactive pellets the size of grains of rice are placed within the prostate gland (invasive) Radical prostatectomy – The...

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Prostate cancer is quite common among men in the United States. The main treatment options for prostate cancer include:

  • External beam radiation – Radiation is applied to the prostate gland through the skin (noninvasive)
  • Brachytherapy – Radioactive pellets the size of grains of rice are placed within the prostate gland (invasive)
  • Radical prostatectomy – The entire prostate gland and some surrounding tissue is removed

About one-quarter of all men with prostate cancer ultimately choose to have a radical prostatectomy. Unfortunately, this procedure often leaves men with chronic problems afterward, such as urinary incontinence (i.e., the inability to hold or control urine) and erectile dysfunction (i.e., the inability to achieve and maintain a penile erection suitable for sexual intercourse). Almost 90% of men who undergo radical prostatectomy to treat prostate cancer develop erectile dysfunction. Drugs and penile injections are not always effective in treating this type of erectile dysfunction. Consequently, as many as three-quarters of men must live with permanent erectile dysfunction. While prostate cancer is essentially cured after radical prostatectomy, affected men have substantially worse quality of life, which also negatively affects their sexual partners.

In an effort to combat this difficult problem, researchers conducted a Phase 1 clinical trial in which they took stem cells from the patient’s own fat tissue (autologous stem cells), purified them, and injected them into the penile tissue of radical prostatectomy patients with erectile dysfunction. Eight of the 17 men who volunteered for the clinical trial regained erectile function and were able to engage in sexual intercourse after just one stem cell injection.

Importantly, stem cell treatment was only effective for men who had not developed urinary incontinence. Eight of 11 men who still could control their urine after radical prostatectomy regained their ability to achieve and maintain erections. Conversely, no man with urinary incontinence after radical prostatectomy had erectile function restored.

The researchers noted that the stem cell treatment was very well tolerated by all men, and described the procedure as safe.

While larger clinical trials are needed to confirm these results, autologous stem cells taken from a patient’s own fat tissue were able to restore erectile function in most of the men treated. This research suggests that men who do not lose urinary function may benefit from this procedure. On the other hand, men who become incontinent after radical prostatectomy may not benefit from this particular stem cell therapy. Randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials will help clarify this issue. In the meantime, these results are encouraging news to thousands of men who suffer from permanent erectile dysfunction as a result of their radical prostatectomies.

 

 

Reference: Haahr, MK et al. (2016). Safety and Potential Effect of a Single Intracavernous Injection of Autologous Adipose-Derived Regenerative Cells in Patients with Erectile Dysfunction Following Radical Prostatectomy: An Open-Label Phase I Clinical Trial. EBioMedicine. 2016 Jan 19;5:204-10.

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