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Degenerative Conditions

Degenerative conditions occur when cell structures within the body’s tissues and organs progressively deteriorate over time. As our bodies get older or our lifestyles change, our cells change too. This is why, in certain cases, degenerative diseases are contrasted with other health complications.

Common degenerative conditions include congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, kidney disease and liver disease. Clinical research has shown that transplanted stem cells could migrate to damaged areas and help promote structural and functional repair as well as working to stimulate various restorative processes.

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Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Patients may experience improvements in function and quality of life parameters. Recent studies have shown that adipose stem cells reduce inflammation in the airway alveoli in response to cigarette smoke exposure or other airway irritants, and also decreased lung cell death. Stem cells also have the potential to stimulate the formation of new capillaries which may lead to tissue repair and oxygen delivery. Mesenchymal stem cells have shown the ability to suppress autoreactive T-cells, inhibit macrophage activation and autoimmune response which may help to improve lung functionality in COPD patients. Improvement in lung capacity can be measured by exercise capacity. Patients’ improvements may be also monitored by the St. George Respiratory Questionnaire.

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Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) found in several bodily tissues, such as bone marrow and adipose tissue, have the capacity to differentiate and migrate to the site of damage and secrete growth factors or cytokines. In type 1 diabetes the insulin producing cells, B-cells within the pancreatic islets are being destructed by the immune system. Mesenchymal stem cell implantation may increase insulin secretion and increase the number of islet cells in the pancreas. Some studies have also shown the ability of MSCs to differentiate into B-cells which expressed the insulin gene, therefore having the ability to reverse diabetes mellitus. Furthermore, MSCs may travel or home to the sight of injury, in this case in pancreatic islets and the liver where they may contribute to tissue repair and remodeling, as well as improving metabolic function. According to cell therapy studies of diabetes type 2, patients have shown a reduction of glucose levels in the blood.

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Congestive Heart Failure

Mesenchymal stem cells possess vast therapeutic capacities and have shown potential in the treatment of heart failure in preclinical and some clinical settings. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) differentiate into a variety of cells. Through the use of MSCs the following was successfully seen: the induction of myogenesis and angiogenesis; differentiation of transplanted MSCs into cardiomyocytes, vascular endothelial cells, and smooth muscle cells; secretion of large amounts of VEGF, HGF, AM, and IGF-1; improvement of cardiac function and inhibition of ventricular remodeling; and decrease in collagen volume fraction in the myocardium. The primary mechanism of action for this cell therapy is through paracrine effects that include the release of cytokines, chemokines, and growth factors that inhibit apoptosis and fibrosis, enhance contractility, and activate endogenous regenerative mechanisms.

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Kidney Disease

Chronic kidney disease, also known as chronic kidney failure, is the gradual loss of functions in this essential filtering organ. Symptoms may not be evident until the kidney is greatly impaired. At the advanced stage, the kidney failure could lead to a dangerous buildup of fluid, electrolytes and waste in the body.

The kidney is comprised of nephrons, which are tubular structures that are responsible for all the functions of this particular organ. The nephrons are lined with tubular epithelial cells, and the loss of these cells after an ischemic or toxic challenge play an important role in kidney failure.

Research has shown that mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) can migrate to the damaged kidney and restore renal function and structure. This is a quality distinctive of MSCs, which can be derived from bone marrow and adipose tissue, transplanted into the damaged area, and differentiate into tubular epithelial cells.

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Liver Disease

Liver failure is a life-threatening condition that occurs when the liver is damaged beyond repair. In some cases, this process may occur gradually, over a number of years, and may be difficult to diagnose because the initial symptoms are commonly found among many conditions. When it comes to liver failure that occurred as a result of long-term deterioration, treatments are initially concerned with rescuing as much of the liver as possible, before a transplant is required.

Research has found that the intravenous transplantation of both mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) and stem cell derived hepatocytes derived from MSCs can rescue liver failure. These stem cells, extracted from bone marrow tissue, were identified to have regenerative effects when inserted into a recipient’s liver, potentially reducing the need for organ transplantation.

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