The future of stem cell therapy
This lesson focuses on the future of stem cell therapies by exploring how scientists around the world are engaged in promising clinical trials to extend the potential of stem cells.
Stem cell research is one of the fastest-growing branches of medical research. Over 1000 clinical trials are exploring the use of both cord blood and cord tissue stem cells to treat diseases such as osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, breast cancer, liver failure and arthritis.
There has been a tremendous amount of growth in the number of clinical trials from 2004 to 2018.
For instance, the number of clinical trials involving mesenchymal stem cells (stem cells found in cord tissue and other organs) has increased by 10-fold between 2005 and 2015.
Interestingly, newborn stem cells from cord blood and cord tissue are the second largest category being explored for their potential as a future therapeutic.
Scientists are likely only at the tip of the iceberg in terms of developing new treatments for diseases using stem cells.
Hence the remainder of this article will focus on how clinical trials are exploring the potential of using stem cell therapy to treat heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
The STAR-heart trial
The STAR heart study is one of the largest clinical trials examining the use of stem cells to treat patients with heart disease.
This trial involved 391 patients with chronic heart failure, who had experienced a heart attack 3 to 8 years prior to the study.
Results from this study show that patients who received stem cells experienced an improvement in heart function after treatment and were able to maintain these improvements in the long-term.
What’s more, there was also a significant decrease in the long-term mortality rates of patients who received stem cells after a heart attack. The average mortality rate of the group that received stem cells was 0.75% per year compared to 3.68% per year seen in the control group that did not receive stem cells.
In summary, the STAR-heart study suggests that stem cell therapy can improve heart function, quality of life and enhance the survival rates in people with chronic heart failure.
Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disease linked to the hormone insulin. Insulin is responsible for regulating blood sugar levels. People with type 2 diabetes are unable to either produce insulin or are unable to produce the hormone insulin, so their blood sugar levels remain constantly high.
Results from 11 clinical trials involving 386 patients with type 2 diabetes treated with stem cell therapy show that most patients experience significant improvement.
For example, 31% of the patients who received mesenchymal stem cells no longer required insulin injections after treatment. Based on these clinical trials we can predict that perhaps one-day stem cell therapy may become a standard of care for treating diabetes.
As discussed here, numerous exciting clinical trials are investigating the use of stem cells to treat some of the most prevalent diseases like diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s.
In the lifetime of your child, there is an 87% chance that he or she will go on to develop at least one of the six diseases listed here. By choosing to save healthy stem cells today, you will be providing your child access to future therapies that become available in their lifetime.