FDA Green Lights Trials of New Type 1 Diabetes Stem Cell Therapy (Feb 4, 2021)


A new therapy going by the name of VX-880 is made up of pancreatic islet cells grown from stem-cell derived progenitors. These are insulin-producing cells that are transplanted into patients with type-1 diabetes. The goal is to restore the body’s ability to sense glucose levels and regulate insulin. The procedure has passed through rigorous animal testing and is now set to undergo human trials, with 17 people currently being recruited for Phase 1 clinical testing.


CRISPR technology to cure sickle cell disease (Jan 21, 2021)


Two patients with beta thalassemia and sickle cell disease have been treated with CRISPR-Cas9 technology and have been cure of their diseases during procedures at the University of Illinois Chicago. The procedure safely modified the DNA of the patients’ blood cells to delete the gene BCL11A, which is responsible for suppressing human fetal hemoglobin production. This caused cells to produce fetal hemoglobin to replace the defective hemoglobin due to the diseases and the new population of cells overwhelmed the current diseased cells and functionally restored operations.


Small molecule restores muscle strength, boosts endurance in old mice, study finds (Dec 10, 2020)


Researchers discovered that the protein 15-PGDH is elevated in older muscle cells proportionate to their age. They proceeded to block the gene which is responsible for the production of this protein. The results of this experiment led to mice with restored prostaglandin E2, which caused the muscles to recruit stem cells and enlarge. This led to a 15%-20% increase in endurance in older mice compared to their baseline levels. There is a potential for this research to translate into human procedures because of parallels across gene expression in the two species.


Researchers find method to regrow cartilage in the joints (Aug 17, 2020)


Stanford researchers have uncovered the ability to regrow cartilage in mice and humans as well. Loss of articular cartilage is responsible for joint pain and arthritis and is common, amounting to an impact of 55 million Americans. The team of scientists caused slight injury to the join tissue and used chemical signals to direct the growth of skeletal stem cells as the injuries healed. Next steps in research are to test in larger animals than mice and then translate into human research.


BETting against wound healing (Jan 18, 2021)


As a result of a chemical screen that identified BET bromodomain inhibitors as the responsible agents of activating skin keratinocytes to promote wound healing. These cells normally aggregate to create boundaries between damaged cells and generating cells, but they were sent into overdrive and caused expediated healing during the experiments. The target was non-healing chronic wounds.


Expansion and characterization of epithelial stem cells with potential for cyclical hair regeneration (Feb 10, 2021)


Apart from hair follicles, the growth of cells and organs occurs mostly during embryonic development. However, the stem cells most active throughout a lifespan are hair follicle stem cells, which have yet to be categorized. However, patients treated with human follicle stem cells positive for CD34/CD49f/integrin B5 cells have the capability of regenerating hair growth cycles and proliferating non-HFSCs into HFSCs.


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