LIFE / FUTURE

LIFE / FUTURE

Stem cell science blasted across front pages worldwide when Shinya Yamanaka won the 2012 nobel prize in Medicine. Stem cells are mother cells that give rise to other cell types in the body. Stem cells brought hope to billions, giving scientists new avenues for understanding and treating some of the worlds’ most complex health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes and Parkinson disease..

AIM

AIM

The major goal of MBSI services and research is to help patients who are receiving bone marrow transplants or cord blood transplants where stem cells are frequently limited and insufficient for treatment to be successful. Another goal is drug development, using the cells themselves as drugs, which would not be rejected by the patient’s immune system. Another important goal would be the use of human cells to test drug toxicity.

POTENTIAL

POTENTIAL

Despite excellent characterization and clinical use, only one third to half of patients currently benefit from bone marrow and cord blood transplants. A key to unlock the therapeutic potential of stem cells is to identify the molecules involved in this process and decipher how they coordinately carry out the self-renewal program. The major potential is that stem cell discoveries can be turned into patient treatments.

WHY (QUALITY)

WHY (QUALITY)

The value of cord blood transplantation in hematology is increasing steadily. Umbilical cord blood cells are excellent for transplants following cancer treatments and improve the immune response of cells in general. The process of stemcell expansion is critical for improving the safety and effectiveness of stem cell transplantation; as well the process of differentiation that is blocked in acute myeloid leukemia and that, if restored, can result in effective treatment. Stakeholders in the field are placing their bets on the encouraging results from studies on cellular therapy. Two recent separate studies showed impressive improvements in patients with chemotherapy resistant blood cancer when they were injected with protective blood cells in the body.

WHERE WE ARE

WHERE WE ARE

So far, researchers around the world have used stem cells from different sources (human embryo, bone marrow, fat, skin) and followed different processes and protocols. In Europe, plans are afoot to undertake the largest ever clinical study on 3,000 cardiac patients. With this European study on cardiac patients, the whole procedure will be standardized. “These are the kind of studies we should be doing for other diseases too,” says Minger. And when that happens, not only will the demand for cells go up, their storage, analysis and imaging will also soar.