A recent review in the World Journal of Stem Cells has described the nature of umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stem cells and the clinical advantages of using these stem cells over other types of stem cells. Other mesenchymal stem cells that are used in research come from: bone marrow, peripheral blood, cord blood, placenta, adipose tissue, dental pulp, and fetal liver and lungs.
One of the main advantages of umbilical cord stem cells, for both research and clinical purposes, is its ease of collection. The collection is noninvasive, circumventing the issue of causing pain to extract the cells. Further, as umbilical cord is generally viewed as medical waste, the cells can be collected without the same ethical issues that are raised by the collection of other cell types.
The cells are also plentiful when collected and can be banked for later use. According to the researchers, the only disadvantage of umbilical cord stem cells in this context is that a physician must evaluate the baby donor’s health and confirm that the cells derive from a healthy baby. This requirement stems from the fact that the cells are more likely to develop into healthy cells themselves if they come from a healthy baby. However, in the case of bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells, a physician can evaluate the potential donor first and then decide whether to collect the cells.
The immunomodulatory characteristics of umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stem cells also represent a major practical advantage of these cells for clinical applications. The introduction of any foreign agent to the body poses a risk because the immune system may recognize the matter as foreign and deem it threatening. If this immune response occurs, the immune reaction that ensues can cause severe long-term damage to tissues. Given that umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stem cells cause these immune reactions much less frequently than do other stem cell types makes them potentially safer as therapeutic interventions.
More research is needed to determine the best ways to use umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stem cells. However, the evidence that there are clinical benefits to using these cells over other stem cell types is accumulating.
To learn more about the five benefits of stem cell therapy, click here.
One of the several unfortunate side effects of chemotherapy, which is often used to combat cancer, is damage to the ovaries. Researchers have recently shown that the use of human umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells provides one potentially promising way to treat the ovaries after the damage has occurred.
Depending on the age of the patient, the impact of chemotherapy-induced damage to the ovaries on quality of life can range from mild to devastating. For young patients who hope to have children, it is important to restore ovary function. Stem cells may provide a way to achieve this goal.
In the current study, researchers showed a number of positive effects of both injecting stem cells directing into the ovary, as well as injecting them less invasively, outside the body. The stem cell treatments were associated with recovery of the estrous cycle, and they led to a rise in sex hormone levels. In some cases, fertility was even restored and led to offspring that appeared to develop normally.
Though the restoration of ovary function occurred faster when the stem cells were injected into the ovaries, the long-term results of the two strategies were similar. These results suggest that a non-invasive form of stem cell therapy could be effective. However, when cells were injected directly into the ovary, they distributed within the ovary and uterus, whereas those injected from outside the body reached not only the ovary and uterus, but also the kidney, liver, and lungs. From this standpoint, direct injection of stem cells into the ovaries may be more desirable than injection from outside the body. However,
These data represent early evidence for the ability of stem cells to help reverse some of the damage that ovaries endure due to chemotherapy. However, the observation that ovary function can be improved as a result of stem cell injection provides an opportunity for further exploration into potential treatments for women whose ovaries have been damaged by chemotherapy.
Learn more about why umbilical cord stem cells are showing promise for stem cell-based therapies here.
A group of researchers in China who have recently observed positive effects of stem cells on patients with rheumatoid arthritis have now conducted an experiment that helps clarify exactly how these stem cells may contribute to improved symptoms in this particular patient population. The group uses umbilical cord stem cells, which are stem cells that have demonstrated immune regulatory functions because the immune system is implicated in rheumatoid arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis is characterized by inflammation and subsequent damage to the joints. The synovium is a type of connective tissue located in synovial joints like knees and elbows and is where the majority of the inflammation occurs. A specific protein, called cadherin-11 that is present in some of the cells in the lining of the synovium has been hypothesized to be an important culprit in rheumatoid arthritis because the protein can lead to inflammation and thus destruction of bones and cartilage.
The researchers decided to test whether umbilical cord stem cells may have an impact on cadherin-11, as such an impact could help explain how these cells help patients with rheumatoid arthritis. They therefore looked at fibrolast-like synoviocytes, the cells that express cadherin-11 in the lining of the synovium, in both patients with rheumatoid arthritis and patients with osteopathic arthritis. Because osteopathic arthritis does not involve the same kind of destruction to the synovium that rheumatoid arthritis does, the researchers expected to find less cadherin-11 in the fibroblast-like synoviocytes of the patients with osteopathic arthritis.
Not only did the researchers find, as suspected, that cadherin-11 levels were higher in the fibroblast-like synoviocytes of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, compared to those with osteopathic arthritis, but they also found that umbilical cord stem cells suppressed the cadherin-11 levels in the fibroblast-like synoviocytes from rheumatoid arthritis patients.
These results point to a potential mechanism by which umbilical cord stem cells reduce inflammation and improve symptoms in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Additionally, they provide important information on how to develop treatments that will specifically target the cause of rheumatoid arthritis.
Stem cells are showing promising results for treating Rheumatoid Arthritis. Learn about it here.
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