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Taking Control: How the Body Controls Stem Cells

researchAn international team of researchers in combination with scientists from the Luxembourg Center for System Biomedicine at the University of Luxembourg has discovered how the body develops red and white blood cells from progenitor cells. Researchers on the project are hopeful that their new discovery will lead to explanations as to how the body creates different cells and improved stem cell treatments.

Progenitor cells, like stem cells, have the ability to change into a specific cell type. Although more specific than a stem cell, they are not as defined as a specific cell type like a skin cell or a nerve cell.


Progenitor cells and stem cells differ in the fact that stem cells replicate multiple times without end, while progenitor stem cells have a limit to how often they can divide.

Researchers on the project applied growth hormones to the blood cells of mice and watched how these cells acted during their growth into red or white blood cells. After observing this cell differentiation, they noted the development occurs in an as needed fashion, rather than an organized one.

The theory is that when progenitor stem cells develop, they wait until they find the right spot to differentiate. This conflicts with the current school of thought that stem cells are preprogrammed to develop into specific kinds of cells. This is valuable information to stem cells researchers. The hope is that it will allow researchers and physicians to develop new stem cell treatments or refine existing stem cell therapies to more effectively treat patients. New stem cell therapies are being developed each year for a wide array of medical conditions.

Dr. Bill Johnson, M.D. is a Dallas Texas, physician who uses mesenchymal stem cells to treat patients for illnesses like chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, a common lung condition also known as COPD, peripheral neuropathy caused by injury or illness and joint conditions like osteoarthritis. He has also successfully used stem cell therapy for patients with Peyronie’s disease, a condition that causes painful erectile dysfunction in nine percent of American men.

Mesenchymal stem cells develop into connective tissues, like the muscles, adipose fat tissue, tendons and cartilage. Other types of tissue formed by mesenchymal stem cells include the bones, the tissues of the circulatory system and the teeth.

Johnson uses mesenchymal stem cells found in adipose fat tissue. These cells are taken from the patient seeking treatment through liposuction, spun in a centrifuge to separate adult stem cells from blood and other tissue, and introduced into the body once more through an IV, injection or both.

"Mesenchymal adipose fat stem cells are a valuable stem cell therapy because of their ability to repair many types of tissue injuries," Johnson said.

Johnson treats patients with tissue injuries caused by injury or illness, as well as those caused by normal wear and tear.

One condition that responds well to this treatment is osteoarthritis, a joint condition that causes pain, swelling and decreased range of motion for many sufferers. Osteoarthritis affects 30 million Americans according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control.

"Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint condition that occurs because of the breakdown of the cartilage in the joints," Johnson said.

Risk factors for osteoarthritis include age, overuse of the joint, obesity and genetics. Traditional therapies for the condition include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, known as NSAIDs, prescription pain relievers and exercise. Severe cases may require physical therapy and joint replacement.

Johnson uses adipose fat stem cells to treat patients with osteoarthritis joint damage who do not respond to conventional treatments or have stopped responding to conventional treatments for their condition. Adipose fat stem cell treatment reduces inflammation of the joint caused by the condition. The anti-inflammatory effect of the treatment lasts patients for two to three months, allowing the joint to begin to heal. Osteoarthritis patients receiving adipose fat stem cell treatment may need repeat deployment of stem cells to reach their desired result.

Many of Johnson’s osteoarthritis patients experience a reduction of pain, increased range of motion and have been able to avoid joint replacement surgeries as a result of their stem cell treatment.




 

Sources:

Stem Cells Portal, "Luxembourg researchers decipher how the body controls stem cells." 29 March 2017

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