Researchers in the Center for Regenerative Medicine are studying the use of intraspinal deliver of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) to the cerebral spinal fluid of patients with ALS using a dose-escalation study. Learn more below:
You've heard about stem cells in the news, and perhaps you've wondered if they might help you or a loved one with a serious disease. You may wonder what stem cells are, how they're being used to treat disease and injury, and why they're the subject of such vigorous debate.
Stem cells are the body's raw materials. These cells have the ability to renew themselves or change to become specialized cells with a more specific function, such as blood cells, brain cells, heart muscle or bone.
Where do stem cells come from?
Adult stem cells are found in tissues of the body, such as bone marrow. Emerging evidence suggests that adult stem cells may be more versatile than previously thought and have the ability to create other types of cells.
Amniotic fluid stem cells come from the liquid that surrounds a developing fetus in the amniotic sac. More study of amniotic fluid stem cells is needed to understand their potential.
Embryonic stem cells are a general stem cell found in embryos. Use of this type of stem cell has significantly declined due to the discovery of induced pluripotent stem cells.
Induced pluripotent stem cells, commonly known as iPS cells, are derived from an adult stem cell that behaves like an embryonic stem cell. This new technique may help researchers avoid the controversy that comes with embryonic stem cells and prevent immune system rejection of the new stem cells.
Mesenchymal stem cells are adult stem cells found in tissues such as bone marrow, blood and the fallopian tube. They can become bone, cartilage, fat and possibly other cells.
How are stem cells being used to treat diseases?
Stem cell transplants, also known as bone marrow transplants, have been performed in the United States since the late 1960s. These transplants use adult stem cells.
Thanks to new technology, researchers are exploring the use of stem cells to treat a range of conditions. For example, teams at Mayo Clinic are investigating the use of adult stem cells to delay or eliminate the need for some hip replacements.
Adult stem cells are being tested to treat degenerative diseases such as heart failure. Stem cells from umbilical cord blood have been successfully used in clinical trials to treat cancer and blood-related diseases.
What does the future hold for stem cell therapy?
The use of adult stem cells continues to be refined and improved. Researchers are discovering that these cells may be more versatile than originally thought, which means they may be able to treat a wider variety of diseases, such as diabetes; heart, liver and lung diseases; neurological and bone disorders; hand, face and other injuries; and congenital anomalies.
"Umbilical cord blood is the most common type of stem cells available and is commonly discarded," says Dr. Nelson. "It is important to systematically work with regulatory agencies to validate any new application. We hope that our focused efforts will indeed lead to new applications for children with congenital heart disease."
Cardio3 BioSciences, an international Mayo Clinic collaborator, has received FDA approval for a phase III pivotal clinical trial of its stem cell therapy. The trial will test the Mayo Clinic discovery of cardiopoietic (cardiogenically-instructed) stem cells designed to improve heart health in people suffering from heart failure. The multisite U.S. trial, called CHART-2, will aim to recruit 240 patients with chronic advanced symptomatic heart failure. Cardio3 BioSciences is a biotechnology company in Mont-Saint-Guibert, Belgium.
"Regenerative medicine is poised to transform the way we treat patients," says Andre Terzic, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Regenerative Medicine. Watch the video below to see how stem cells are being used to treat people with heart failure.
Nearly everyone knows someone with diabetes — it's hard not to. In the United States, 1 in 3 adults and 1 in 6 children have high blood sugar, according to the National Institutes of Health.
After you eat, glucose is absorbed into your bloodstream and carried throughout your body. Insulin — a hormone made by beta cells in your pancreas — then signals your cells to take up glucose, helping your body turn the food into energy.
With diabetes, this process can go wrong in two basic ways: Type 1 diabetes results from the body's failure to produce insulin; type 2 diabetes occurs when there's plenty of insulin but the cells lose their ability to perceive its signal. In both cases, cells starve.
Living well with diabetes requires a lifelong commitment to monitoring blood sugar, eating properly, exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight. People with type 1 diabetes must also rely on insulin replacement therapy, usually through insulin injections. People with type 2 diabetes might need oral medication.
Still, every year, diabetes kills about 70,000 people in the United States and is a contributing cause in another 160,000 deaths each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Yasuhiro Ikeda, D.V.M., Ph.D., a molecular biologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., wants to change that.
After beginning his career as a veterinary feline specialist, Dr. Ikeda had to change course when he developed an allergy to his four-legged patients that made it impossible to be in a room with them. He turned his attention toward research and discovered that his interest in molecular virology had human as well as feline applications.
The story of one Mayo Clinic patient with diabetes turned Dr. Ikeda's attention back toward healing.
Yasuhiro Ikeda, D.V.M., Ph.D., is spearheading stem cell research in the Mayo Clinic Center for Regenerative Medicine.
"He had to have his legs amputated, then went blind, then developed kidney disease," Dr. Ikeda recalls. "He couldn't walk, couldn't see, and one day he decided not to come in. He refused treatment and died a few days later. That story stays in my mind. That's why I'm here now, because this new technology may really change things."
And that's why Dr. Ikeda and his research team are screening hundreds of thousands of compounds to discover potential drugs to treat type 2 diabetes — drugs that don't lead to crashing blood sugar levels.
Dr. Ikeda — known as Ike to friends and colleagues — is also working toward developing a cure for type 1 diabetes. He plans to use gene therapy to prevent pancreatic beta cell loss in patients newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
Abba Zubair, M.D., Ph.D, believes that cells grown in the International Space Station (ISS) could help patients recover from a stroke, and that it may even be possible to generate human tissues and organs in space. Dr. Zubair says, “On Earth, we face many challenges in trying to grow enough stem cells to treat patients. It takes a month to generate enough cells for a few patients. A clinical-grade laboratory in space could provide the answer we all have been seeking for regenerative medicine.”
Dr. Zubair, medical and scientific director of the cell therapy laboratory at Mayo Clinic in Florida, says the experiment will be the first one Mayo Clinic has conducted in space and the first to use these human stem cells, which are found in bone marrow.
Mayo Clinic researchers and colleagues in Belgium have developed a specialized catheter for transplanting stem cells into the beating heart. This new catheter is being used in the European CHART-1 clinical trials, now underway. This is the first Phase III trial to regenerate hearts of patients who have suffered heart attack damage. The novel device includes a curved needle and graded openings along the needle shaft, allowing for increased distribution of cells. The result is maximized retention of stem cells to repair the heart. The findings appear in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Interventions.
Researchers from the Mayo Clinic Center for Regenerative Medicine in Rochester and Cardio3 Biosciences in Mont-Saint-Guibert, Belgium, collaborated to develop the device, beginning with computer modeling in Belgium. Once refined, the computer-based models were tested in North America for safety and retention efficiency.
To learn more, watch the video below. Read the full news release here.
Imagine lying in a hospital room after a heart attack. The doctor comes in with a small device that looks like a tiny apple corer and says, “You need a valve replacement. I just need a bit of your skin, and we’ll have a new one printed for you in no time.”
The lab of Mayo Clinic’s Robert Simari, M.D., recently acquired one of the very few bioprinters in the nation, a device that lets us imagine such a scenario. Wednesday, Dr. Simari told an audience at the World Stem Cell Summit that his lab is working toward such a goal. Dr. Simari is the director of Mayo Clinic’s Center for Regenerative Medicine’s Valvular and Vascular Repair and Regeneration Program.
The technology of 3D printing, which layers, or prints, material to make a three-dimensional shape, has been around for decades, but until recently, it has been confined to the mechanical world. Today, scientists are applying the technology to print human tissue, using as its ink living human cells. Dr. Simari referred to an article in The Economist, which stated, “It is impossible to foresee the long term impact of 3D printing... But the technology is coming and it is likely to disrupt every field it touches.”
Dr. Simari is testing if bioprinting can complement his work of applying stem cells to build biological heart valves. He is completing studies using animal valve scaffolds populated with stem cells. However, the process of populating these scaffolds with cells and waiting for them to grow is difficult and time-consuming. The bioprinter might cut down on that time by printing the valve on demand, microscopic cell layer by microscopic cell layer.
Dr. Simari hopes his work will give better options for patients with heart valves. Today, two main options exist for the 200,000 patients who need valve replacements each year, but both have drawbacks. One is a bioprosthetic valve, which fails 20 percent of the time within first six years of placement. The other is a mechanical valve, which requires patients take anticoagulant drugs for the rest of their lives. For many patients, both options carry even larger risks. For instance, neither valve can grow, so when children need a new valve, they face a series of operations as they age, replacing larger valves to keep up with their growing hearts.
Dr. Simari believes that a heart valve tailored to each patient will help such patients.
The Research Information Center is located in the Gonda Building, lobby level. Through interactive displays and scientific visualizations, visitors can learn how Mayo’s multidisciplinary research effort is changing the practice and delivery of medical care.
Mayo Clinic recently announced the first stem cell-based clinical trial for congenital heart disease. The clinical trial aims to determine how stem cells derived from autologous umbilical cord blood can help children with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, a rare defect where the left side of the heart is critically underdeveloped.
Read the full news release and watch a video describing the research:
Translating a Mayo Clinic stem-cell discovery, an international team has demonstrated that therapy with cardiopoietic (cardiogenically-instructed) or "smart" stem cells can improve heart health for people suffering from heart failure. This is the first application in patients of lineage-guided stem cells for targeted regeneration of a failing organ, paving the way to development of next generation regenerative medicine solutions. Results of the clinical trial appear online in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Read more in Mayo’s Discovery’s Edge magazine and watch a video describing the research:
The Mayo Clinic Center for Regenerative Medicine is driven by patient needs and serves as a catalyst to develop new clinical options for patients. Though great progress has been made in medicine, current evidence-based and palliative treatments are increasingly unable to keep pace with patients’ needs, especially given our aging population.
Regenerative medicine and surgery uses the body’s ability to restore structure and function – essentially, healing from within. Mayo Clinic is committed to advancing the science and the practice of health care through regenerative medicine and surgery. Learn about our efforts here: