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Adult (Induced) Stem Cells
Human induced pluripotent stem cells:
Late in 2007, scientists reported that they had been able to reprogram adult human skin cells to behave like hESCs. This type of stem cells is known as induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPSCs. Since these first reports, researchers have rapidly improved the techniques to generate iPSCs, creating a powerful new way to "de-differentiate" cells whose developmental fates were thought to be determined.
In July 2013, Japan’s health minister approved the first clinical trial using cells derived from iPSCs. Masayo Takahashi in Kobe, Japan will use the cells to attempt to treat a form of blindness - age-related macular degeneration.
Bone marrow stem cells:
Bone marrow contains blood-forming stem cells (hematopoietic stem cells) that have been used for decades to treat blood cancers and other blood disorders. Umbilical cord blood is another source of hematopoietic stem cells that is being used in treatment. You can see a list of diseases that may currently be treated with hematopoietic stem cells at the website of the National Marrow Donor Program. You may also search for clinical trials testing "bone marrow stem cells" or "umbilical cord blood" on the ClinicalTrials.gov website.
Human spinal cord stem cells:
A biotechnology company called Neuralstem (corporate headquarters in Rockville, Maryland) is conducting a clinical trial testing the use of human spinal cord stem cells to treat Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The company obtained FDA approval to conduct a Phase I trial (safety and tolerability study) and began enrolling patients in January 2010. Twelve participants have received lumbar transplants, and in March 2012, the second participant received an injection in the cervial region. Details about this trial are listed on the ClinicalTrials.gov website.
Human mesenchymal stem cells:
Osiris Therapeutics (Columbia, Maryland) is conducting three different Phase 2 clinical trials with a product from adult mesenchymal cells (called Prochymal). The three trials are for:
- protecting pancreatic beta islet cells in adults and children with newly diagnosedtype 1 diabetes (in partnership with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation),
- repair of heart tissue following a heart attack, and
- the repair of lung tissue in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Osiris is also conducting Phase 3 testing of Prochymal for acute graft versus host disease (GvHD) and Crohn's disease.
Adult Eye Stem Cells for Eye Disease or Damage:
The limbus is the marginal region of the cornea of the eye that contains stem cells. Stem cells from the limbus are called limbal stem cells, and they normally serve to replace cells to maintain the cornea. Limbal stem cells are being tested as possible treatments for human eye conditions. Currently, scientists are testing whether limbal stem cells can help repair damage to the cornea and whether they can help replace cells that are lacking due to limbal stem cell deficiency.