Australian Scientists believe they have made a powerful revolutionary new discovery of inducing regeneration of any bone and tissue similar to the way salamanders regrow lost limbs with trials planned in 2017.
The group of scientists from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) say this new stem cell technique has the ability to not only regrow bone and tissue, and heal wounds that have been damaged and/or lost but has the potential to lead into something far bigger, possibly into complex structures and organs.
This could cause a complete transformation in how stem cell technologies can be used to treat injuries. Along with a real game changer that would open up new avenues of development for human limb regeneration which would transform the lives of amputees, making prosthetics obsolete.
Its important not to under estimate the significance of this new kind of research with Australia leading the field in Regenerative Medicine.
Therapies that are based on ‘induced impotent stem’ cells (iMS) could start as early as next year (2017) after they demonstrated the reprogramming of fat and bone cells. iMS is a theoretical process of cells being used to regenerate muscle, bone, and cartilage.
Controlled Cellular Regeneration
One of the many challenges that scientists have come across in this research is the regrowth of cells without becoming cancerous. The iMS method is different from other kinds of stem cells that can differentiate into many types of cells, as they not considered to run the risk of stimulating cancer in the process.
What this means is that with this multi-potent stem cell method, according to Professor John Pimanda of UNSW, once they are transplanted into areas of damaged tissue, controlled repair of tissue seemed to be observed. So the process only heals the tissues that are damaged, leaving healthy tissue alone.
This new stem call technology takes mouse and human bone with fat cells, and converts them into multi-potent stem cells. What is exciting is that you take a patient’s own fat or bone tissue and generate a type of cell that looks like a regenerating stem cell.
You then put them back into the patient’s body and bring about a genuine repair of the damaged tissue. So the injured bone and tissue can be regenerated with these cells that have just been developed.
What Are Induced Multi-Potent Stem Cells?
At the moment, researchers whom have been investigating regenerative therapies, have worked with embryonic stem (ES) cells and along with induced pluri-potent stem (iPS) cells. They both have similar characteristics of behavior, multiplying indefinitely with the ability to transform into any kind of bodily tissue. The ES cells are naturally obtained from early stage of embryos, while iPS cells are created by reprogramming adult cells.
The challenge with both of these stem cell models is they run the risk of generating cancerous tumors. In addition, iPS cells are generated by genes that are injected with viruses, this is of course clinically unacceptable.
The induced multi-potent cells (iMS) have a more limited capability but are claimed to be safer than ES and iPS methods. The group of researchers in Australia, were able to produce them by inducing “plasticity” in the fat and bone cells using human and mouse donors.
These donor fat cells get treated for about three days using a growth factor that is derived using platelets, along with cells called AZA (or 5-Azacitidine). This AZA invokes plasticity and is a requirement to allow a growth factor take place called PDGF-AB to reprogram them into iMS cells.
When this these modified cells are injected into the damaged area, they stimulate regeneration. The end result is that it excitingly mimics the way salamanders also use plasticity to regrow lost limbs and tails, the scientists claim.
Human Trials Planned
It is still unclear according to scientists how the science behind this new stem cell technology works and how these cells know what to generate and where. It is thought that the cells lose their hard wired identity, with the fat cells forgetting what it is and responds to surrounding cells.
So there is still a lot of work to be done in terms of understanding scientifically the process.
However, human trials are expect to start by the end of next year of 2017. This technology uses the patient’s own stem cells so there is less chance of tissue rejection.
The initial phase of a human trial project will involve focusing on musculoskeletal challenges, and repairing joint and muscle degenerated, neck and back pain, spinal disc injury and the speeding up of wound healing from post surgical injuries.
These cells have the ability to generate their own blood supply which scientists feel is important. Patients whom have blood vessels that are damaged with their tissues dying as a result since they are not getting enough blood supply.
The scientists whom will be leading the human trials with this new stem cell treatment feel that they can regenerate both the patients blood supplies and the lost or damaged tissue.
Could This Treatment Regrow Lost Limbs?
You will notice above that the analogy of the salamander is given where this stem cell technology mimics the way salamander regenerates its own bodily tissues.
In a way what scientists seem to be doing is reverse engineering what the Salamander, such as the Axolotl in Mexico does, in regrowing its own limbs that have been lost or damaged.
So how can stem cells regrow limbs, and does this stem cell research answers those questions?
While certainly at the moment we are some way from achieving that scientific miracle, scientists do believe that the description of inducing salamander-like regeneration in humans is a correct description with this kind of technology.
This new discovery has the potential to create a revolution regenerative medicine in a few years. They believe that this research is a major breakthrough not least with using stem cells to regrow tissue and not become tumor-like.
New Powerful Potential Treatments
What is so powerful about this discovery and research, is that scientists have been able to find a way to take someone’s own bone or fat cells, and generate a kind of cell that behaves as a regenerative stem cell. These cells are then placed in the human’s body and they bring about genuine regeneration of the lost or damaged tissue.
Damaged tissue and damaged bone can be repaired with these cells that have been developed for the patient.
Clearly this is a stepping stone to something of far greater potential as the technology develops and clearly it will lead into more complex healing as the technology develops, along with combining with what other scientists are doing in related research into human limb regeneration.
The research led by the scientists at University of New South Wales is published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences.