There are many innovative regenerative medicine therapies doctors are studying with adult stem cells—stem cells typically taken from bone marrow and blood—not embryos. Transplants of adult stem cells have become a standard lifesaving therapy for perhaps hundreds of thousands of people with leukemia, lymphoma, and other blood diseases. Malcolm Ritter, Associated Press, recently conducted an extensive review of stem cell projects and interviews with two dozen experts which revealed a wide range of potential regenerative medicine treatments for adult stem cells. McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine
faculty member Rocky Tuan, PhD (pictured), Director of the Center for Cellular and Molecular Engineering, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, was one of the regenerative medicine experts weighing in on the use of adult stem cells.
Today, adult stem cells being tested for potential regenerative medicine therapies for orthopedic injuries, multiple sclerosis, heart attacks, cancer, skin grafts, diabetes, vision restoration, intestinal disorders, and transplant surgeries. Scientists say they're harnessing the apparent abilities of adult stem cells to stimulate tissue repair, or to suppress the immune system.
"That gives adult stem cells really a very interesting and potent quality that embryonic stem cells don't have," says Dr. Tuan, who serves as the Executive Vice Chairman for Orthopaedic Research at the University of Pittsburgh.
For more than 30 years, Dr. Tuan has studied the workings of the musculoskeletal system and its diseases, including cartilage development and repair, cell signaling and matrix biochemistry, stem cell biology, nanotechnology, and many other orthopaedically relevant topics. The role of the Center for Cellular and Molecular Engineering is to develop the knowledge base and the technical know-how toward the restoration of organ functions by applying principles of cellular and molecular biology as well as the physical sciences and engineering. Novel approaches, such as stem cells, biomaterials, nanotechnology, and bioreactors will be utilized to advance skeletal tissue engineering and regeneration.
In his orthopaedic work, Dr. Tuan has found that replacement joints, as sophisticated as they have become, don’t hold up well over time. Dr. Tuan says we can do better, and we can do so by mimicking nature. Making man-made, or rather, “man-assisted” tissue in vitro from adult stem cells, particularly mesenchymal stem cells that are drawn from bone marrow, muscle, or fat, is the easy part—not that it’s particularly easy. The real difficulty arises, Dr. Tuan says, in making something that looks like muscle, cartilage, or a spinal disc function like muscle, cartilage, or a spinal disc.
With a goal of improving quality of life using modern technology, Dr. Tuan hopes his current tests make human clinical trials possible in 2 years.
Illustration: McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
Google News—Associated Press (08/01/10)
ABC News (08/02/10)
CBS News (08/02/10)
The Los Angeles Times (08/02/10)
USA Today (08/02/10)
McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine In the News: Persuading Joints to Fix Themselves
Bio: Dr. Rocky Tuan