Cryopreservationand the future

Due to their unique properties, stem cells have enormous therapeutic potential. Over 4000 clinical trials are currently ongoing with stem cells from a range of sources, many of which are in an advanced stage.

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Research and development with stem cells

Stem cell research is one of the most promising areas in medicine. This situation is underlined by the thousands of clinical trials in progress with stem cells from a range of sources, involving thousands of patients all over the world, for the treatment of a very wide range of diseases (cardiovascular, auto-immune and neurodegenerative diseases, etc.). In 2012, the potential of this area was once again recognised by the award of the Nobel Prize for Medicine to two researchers in the field of stem cells.

Main clinical trials in progress

Alopecia areata

Autism

Cerebral Palsy

Strokes

Alzheimer’s disease

Traumatic brain injuries

Parkinson’s disease

Eye problems

Acquired hearing loss

Wound healing

Bone marrow transplants

(already used in clinical practice)

Osteoarthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Crohn’s disease

Spinal cord injuries

Diabetes

Muscular dystrophy

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Acute myocardial infarction (heart attack)

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Clinical trials with umbilical cord blood and tissue

Umbilical cord blood

  • In addition to hematopoietic stem cells, umbilical cord blood, which is already used for the treatment of blood cancers, also contains endothelial progenitor cells (that can differentiate into blood vessel cells) and pluripotent stem cells (with the ability to differentiate into neural, bone and liver cells, among others).
  • There are currently more than 400 clinical trials being run with umbilical cord blood stem cells.
  • Among the most important trials are diseases such as cerebral palsy, type 1 diabetes and acquired hearing loss, among others.

Umbilical cord tissue

  • Umbilical cord tissue is a rich source of mesenchymal stem cells that can differentiate into cartilage, bone and muscle, among other structures.
  • Recent studies have been carried out based on the therapeutic potential of mesenchymal stem cells, reporting on their experimental use in patients with graft versus host disease, lupus and multiple sclerosis.

STEMLAB Patent
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For Stemlab, stem cell treatment research and development is an investment in the future. As a result of one of the research projects, Stemlab has recently patented a gel formula containing umbilical cord blood stem cells, for the treatment of chronic wounds in diabetics.

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There are new applications that will require the autologous use of umbilical cord blood
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A range of clinical studies involving hundreds of patients are currently being run. The use of umbilical cord blood to treat cerebral palsy and diabetes, among other diseases, is currently subject to studies that could contribute to expand the range of applications of umbilical cord blood to other areas outside the blood cancer context. The vast majority of the ongoing clinical trials use autologous cells to minimize risk of rejection and increase the treatment’s safety and success.

Clinical trials with Umbilical Cord Blood cells

  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Cerebral palsy and other neurological diseases
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Peripheral vascular disease
  • Acquired loss of hearing function
  • Autism
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Acute burns
  • Ageing
  • Alopecia areata
  • Liver cirrhosis
  • Infertility; Intrauterine Adhesions; Endometrial Dysplasia

Clinical trials with Umbilical Cord Tissue Cells

  • Type 1 and type 2 diabetes
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Cirrhosis
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy
  • Liver failure/li>
  • Bronchopulmonary dysplasia
  • Graft versus host disease
  • Duchenne muscular dystrophy
  • Autism
  • Diabetic foot
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Lupus
  • Acute burns
  • Rheumatoid arthitis
  • Asthma
  • Psoriasis

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Success with therapies in the phase of clinical trials

Due to the high volume of research and development initiatives currently in progress worldwide, some important success has already been achieved in the use of stem cells in various fields of medicine.

Stem cells allow regeneration of the maxilla for placement of dental implants

A 45-year-old woman was subjected to an experimental treatment to regenerate the upper maxilla. Five years earlier, as a result of an accident, this woman lost part of the front teeth and 75% of the maxilla that supported those teeth (which made it impossible to place dental implants). The team of Dr. Darnell Kaigler, Department of Oral and Periodontal Medicine of the School of Odontology at the University of Michigan, USA, managed to regenerate part of the maxilla using an innovative approach. The experts used an absorbable support, where they placed isolated stem cells from the patient’s own bone marrow. The support with the cells was implanted in the maxilla and, 4 months after, 80% of the missing maxilla had been regenerated, allowing the placement of implants for dental prosthesis application. Six months later, a dental prosthesis was placed which allowed the return of the smile to this patient.

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Traumatic injuries of the face are common. About half of these result in loss of teeth and bone tissue that support them. This type of injury is very difficult to treat, leaving the patient functionally and aesthetically debilitated, including the impossibility of placing dental implants.
A study, published in the journal Stem Cells Translational Medicine, describes the use of stem cells for regeneration of maxilla in a 45-year-old patient. The patient had lost 7 teeth and 75% of the maxilla that supported these teeth, 5 years before, staying with various functional and aesthetic deficiencies.
The researchers used an absorbable support (which will disappear after some time) where they placed isolated stem cells from the bone marrow of the patient itself. The support with the cells was implanted in the maxilla area to be regenerated, in a surgery with local anesthesia. 4 months later, 80% of missing maxilla had been regenerated, allowing the placement of implants for dental prosthesis application. This prosthesis was placed 6 months later, with complete functional and esthetic restoration of the mouth, returning the smile to this patient.
This article is the first to describe a cell therapy for reconstruction of craniofacial injury, demonstrating that the use of patient’s own stem cells to regenerate bone tissue of the face is possible.

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4 year-old child can talk after treatment with autologous cord blood.

At 18 months, Isabella was diagnosed with speech apraxia (a neurological disorder that limits the development of speech) and at two and a half years, even attending kindergarten and getting specific therapy, her vocabulary was much reduced. The parents then sought about alternative treatments. By having knowledge of the existence of an experimental therapy for speech apraxia at Duke University in the US, her parents contacted Dr. Joanne Kurtzberg, responsible for the study. With three and a half years the girl received an infusion of her own umbilical cord blood (cryopreserved at birth) and three weeks after her speech had improved significantly, being able to pronounce the name of her brother, among other words. The evolution of speech on this girl was evident, resulting in a greater ability to use new words and to make herself understood.

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Scientists can “cure” diabetes in mice.

A group of MIT scientists, in collaboration with scientists at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and other institutions, developed a way to inject insulin-producing cells in diabetic mice, without destruction of these cells by the mice organism. These researchers had previously achieved in the laboratory significant quantities of functional insulin-producing cells obtained from stem cells, which would allow its application in diabetic patients. Now, these researchers were able to place the cells in a device that allowed the implant of the cells in mice, protecting them from being attacked by the immune system of the mice. Throughout the entire study, these insulin-producing cells were able to maintain normal glucose levels in mice. After 6 months, the device was removed, it was intact and the cells remained viable. This is indeed a major breakthrough in the area of diabetes, because it suggests that it is possible to reverse diabetes, however it will still be necessary to confirm its effectiveness in humans.

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Stem cells in the treatment of type 1 diabetes – results in animal models

Diabetes affects more than 300 million people worldwide. In type 1 diabetes there is an inability to produce insulin by β cells. Although it is difficult to establish the etiology, it’s known that it can be autoimmune, infectious, iatrogenic origin, etc. Insulin is needed to regulate blood sugar levels. Patients begin to require daily injections of insulin, without which they could not survive.
In order to develop more effective strategies for treating this disease, various studies have been developed. In this context, in 2014, a group of scientists was able to obtain functional β cells from human embryonic stem cells. The researchers then sought a way to implant the cells in the body without the immune system destroy them. The results of the study have now been published in Nature Medicine and Nature Biotechnology.
The authors describe they encapsulated the β cells in a compound that is able to escape to the action of the immune system of mice. This device containing β-cell was then implanted into mice which was previously induced type 1 diabetes. The implants were kept in mice for 174 days until being removed and analyzed.
The results show that the β cells implanted were able to correct glicemia, regulating blood glucose levels, throughout the time of the study. After the removal of the implants was possible to check that the cells remained viable and the device showed no signs of attack by the immune system of mice.
The researchers concluded that this strategy has made it possible to control glucose levels in animal models of diabetes, suggesting that these devices containing β cells have the potential to treat diabetic patients, freeing them from the need for daily control of insulin levels.
This is indeed a major breakthrough in the area of diabetes, however it will still be necessary to confirm its effectiveness in humans.

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