Developments appear to flourish, across many potential areas of rehabilitation:
Spinal Code Injury
Darek Fidyka, a previously paralysed man in Poland, has been able to walk again after the transplantation of olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs) from his nasal cavity into his spinal cord. This work at was carried out at Wroclaw University Hospital and the Akron Neuro-Rehabilitation Center in Wroclaw in collaboration with scientists at the University College London’s Institute of Neurology. The groundbreaking research was supported by the Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation (NSIF) and the UK Stem Cell Foundation.
Walsh, F. (2014). Paralysed man walks again after cell transplant. London: BBC Health News, October 21st 2014.
Also of interest:
Walsh, F. (2014). To walk again: the people behind the story. London: BBC Health News, October 21st 2014.
Embryonic stem cells have been transplanted in an early trial involving nine people with age-related macular degeneration and nine people with Stargardt’s macular dystrophy, both of which result in progressive damage of the retina. This promising research indicates that human embryonic stem cells can be developed into retinal cells in the laboratory and transplanted successfully into the eye with the potential for clinically significant visual improvement.
Stem cells used to improve low vision. London: NHS Choices Behind the Headlines, October 15th 2014.
This relates to:
Schwartz, SD. Regillo, CD. [and] Lam, BL. [et al] (2014). Human embryonic stem cell-derived retinal pigment epithelium in patients with age-related macular degeneration and stargardt’s macular dystrophy: follow-up of two open-label phase 1/2 studies. The Lancet. October 15th 2014. [Epub ahead of print].
Type 1 Diabetes
Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSC) offer potential for conversion into other specialist cell types, including insulin-producing cells. Early laboratory research indicates that hPSCs might be instructed (via manipulation of signalling pathways) to develop into functioning pancreatic beta cells. These stem cell-derived pancreatic beta cells have been shown to work, at least when transplanted into mice.
Is a cure for type 1 diabetes ‘within reach’? London: NHS Choices Behind the Headlines, October 10th 2014.
Scientists at the molecular neurotherapy and imaging laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital, the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and Harvard Medical School may have discovered a technique for turning stem cells into toxin-resistant agents to deliver cancer-killing drugs which appear likely to combat glioblastoma (in mice).
Cancer-killing stem cells engineered in lab. London: BBC Health News, October 25th 2014.
Researchers at Lund University in Sweden, working with rats, have shown a potential breakthrough in the use of human stem cell-derived dopamine-producing brain cells to repair the damage in the brain caused by Parkinson’s Disease.
Parkinson’s stem cell ‘breakthrough’. London: BBC Health News, November 7th 2014.
This relates to:
Grealish, S. Diguet, E. Kirkeby, A. [et al] (2014). Human ESC-derived dopamine neurons show similar preclinical efficacy and potency to fetal neurons when grafted in a rat model of Parkinson’s Disease. Cell Stem Cell. November 6th 2014, 15(5), 653-665.
First Stem Cell Therapy Approved by EU
Holoclar, a stem cell therapy using limbal stem cells to treat a rare eye condition that can result in blindness, is the first such treatment to receive approval from the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
Gallagher, J. (2014). Stem cells: first therapy approved by EU. London: BBC Health News, December 19th 2014.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Moorfields Eye Hospital and the University College London Institute of Ophthalmology have reported early signs of success with the implantation of human embryonic stem-cells for the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The process involves transplanting eye cells (grown from stem-cells in the laboratory) to regenerate retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells, with a view to restoring (or halting the decline) of sight loss.
Walsh, F. (2015). Stem cell trial aims to cure blindness. London: BBC Health News, August 29th 2015.
Further background: roughly one in four over-60s in the UK has AMD. The London Project to Cure Blindness has been working for a decade to reverse vision loss in patients with age-related macular degeneration.
First patient treated with stem cell therapy for wet age-related macular degeneration. London: Medical Research Council (MRC), September 29th 2015.
Ghosh, P. (2016). Gene therapy reverses sight loss and is long-lasting. London: BBC Health News / BBC Science and Environment, April 28th 2016.
Diabetes-Related Kidney Problems
NHS Blood and Transplant is to run a stem cell factory in Liverpool producing stromal cells grown from donated human bone marrow, to treat people with diabetes with the intention of preventing diabetes-related kidney problems. Patients taking part in the NEPHSTROM trial will be treated at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust and in Italy.
NHS starts ‘stem cell factory’ for diabetes. London: BBC Health News, October 20th 2015.