Original source: Daily Accord
Stem cell therapies capable of regenerating any human tissue damaged by injury, disease or ageing could be available within a few years, following landmark research led by UNSW Australia researchers.
The repair system, similar to the method used by salamanders to regenerate limbs, could be used to repair everything from spinal discs to bone fractures, and has the potential to transform current treatment approaches to regenerative medicine. The findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal.
“This technique is a significant advance on many of the current unproven stem cell therapies, which have shown little or no objective evidence they contribute directly to new tissue formation,” study lead author, haematologist and UNSW Associate Professor John Pimanda said.
The technique developed by UNSW researchers involves extracting adult human fat cells and treating them with the compound 5-Azacytidine (AZA), along with platelet-derived growth factor-AB (PDGF-AB) for approximately two days. The cells are then treated with the growth factor alone for a further two-three weeks.
AZA is known to induce cell plasticity, which is crucial for reprogramming cells. The AZA compound relaxes the hard-wiring of the cell, which is expanded by the growth factor, transforming the bone and fat cells into iMS cells. When the stem cells are inserted into the damaged tissue site, they multiply, promoting growth and healing.
The technique is similar to salamander limb regeneration, which is also dependent on the plasticity of differentiated cells, which can repair multiple tissue types, depending on which body part needs replacing.
Along with confirming that human adult fat cells reprogrammed into iMS stem cells can safely repair damaged tissue in mice, the researchers said further work is required to establish whether iMS cells remain dormant at the sites of transplantation and retain their capacity to proliferate on demand.
“We are currently assessing whether adult human fat cells reprogrammed into iMS cells can safely repair damaged tissue in mice, with human trials expected to begin in late 2017.” Associate Professor Pimanda said.