Posted on Jul 15, 2018, 2 a.m.
During the early 2000s the stem cell industry took some heavy hits when using using embryonic stem cells was challenged, leaving all but a few lines of those cells excluded from federal research grants.
Many stem cell experts then left the USA for laboratories in other countries such as Singapore during that period. In the void which remained stem cell researchers were determined to find a way to continue forward via adult stem cells which are found throughout the body in hair follicles, bone marrow, and other tissues. These adult stems cells are multipotent, meaning they retain the ability to differentiate into some or all of the specialized cell types of the tissue or organ in which they are embedded. Adult stem cells don’t have the pluripotency of embryonic stem cells, but they can be reprogrammed to become cells of specific type or induced pluripotent stem cells.
Reprogramming stem cell technology is beginning to come to fruition, it may not be what was once envisioned at the dawn of stem cell research, but it is still worth the effort. Applications are being developed for basic research, drug testing, and cell based therapeutics which holds great promise to regenerate replacement tissues and cells. Cell based therapeutics are being explored at several companies that hope to manufacture adult stem cells and reinvigorate regenerative medicines.
Allogeneic mesenchymal stem cells produced from adult human bone marrow are hoped to ameliorate age related diseases and disabilities such as frailty which affects 12% of all people aged 65+. Frailty is an underappreciated problem representing a huge challenge that affects many people, yet almost nothing is being doing for this group. Organs are affected with the aging process, and hearts don’t work as well for example. Decline in function is hypothesized to be related to depletions of normal adult stem cells within the body. Finding a way to replete them is a Eueka moment to say the least, explains Joshua M. Hare, M.D., CSO and co-founder of Longeveron who was carefully vague in regards to specifics of confidential manufacturing secrets and challenges the company has weathered, as to be expected.
Use of MSCs to treat aging comes as a new and exciting component of biotech. Transplanted MSCs, in theory, can reduce chronic inflammation associated with aging and related diseases improving functional capacity and quality of life; and potential to ameliorate diseases and conditions of aging to perhaps increase longevity.
Longeveron won a $1.15 million grant from NIH to research and develop therapeutics to combat metabolic syndrome; and had received clinical trial funding from Alzheimer’s Association and Maryland’s TEDCO. If future trials are successful it is hoped the new therapy will be on the path to commercialization for the global population of aging baby boomers. Many indications for regenerative therapies are gaining regulatory approval. If this approach is commercialized any geriatrician or general physician would be able to administer the MSCS to roll back frailty and reduce other deficits in functional capacity related to aging including metabolic syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease.
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