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article imageNew stem cell therapy may regenerate lost limbs in a few years

By Claudio Buttice     Apr 6, 2016 in Health
A groundbreaking discovery from an Australian research team at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) may pave the road for the future of stem cell technology. Thanks to this new research humans may regrow their lost limbs in just a few years.
Human-limb regrowth may be a reality in just a couple of years thanks to the UNSW team lead by Professor J. Pimanda, who published their study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal. The new regeneration system is similar to the one used by salamanders to naturally repair damaged organs, and can potentially be used to heal any kind of damage including bone fractures.
The new technique allowed the researchers to convert cells from the adipose and bone tissues into induced multipotent stem cells (iMS), and has already been successfully tested on lab animals. Prior to this discovery, most other stem cell therapies failed to demonstrate their effectiveness in contributing to tissue formation. Stem cell differentiation has always been very poorly controlled, and although the potential for tissue regeneration was immense, it was never appropriately managed. However, Dr. Pimanda's discovery may completely change the current scenario, and he even confirmed that human trials are expected as soon as late 2017.
Several stem cells are still present in the adult human body. However, they lose the ability to regenerate multiple tissue types as embryonic stem cells do. Embryonic stem cells cannot be used for healing purposes, as their growing capabilities are associated with a high risk of tumor formation. Adult stem cells are instead tissue specific, but the new research may reprogram bone and fat cells into iMS cells, which are able to regenerate several different tissue types. Adult human fat cells are treated for three days with growth factor derived from platelets, together with a compound called 5-Azacytidine (AZA). The AZA induces cell plasticity and is required to let the growth factor called PDGF-AB reprogram them into iMS ones. As soon as the modified cells are injected into the damaged tissue, they start multiplying themselves, healing the site similarly to what happens for salamanders limbs.
According to study's first author, Dr. Vashe Chandrakanthan, this new stem cell therapy may be used to treat neck and back pain, as well as joint and muscle degeneration, spinal disc injury and to speed up post-surgical wound healing.
More about Stem cells, Embryonic stem cells, Regeneration, Healing, Research
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