Research Advances in Stem Cell Therapy for Rheumatic Diseases

There is promising research that shows adult stem cells may advance the treatment of rheumatic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. 

Stem cells are undifferentiated cells that can develop into any type of specialized cell, and are broadly divided into embryonic and adult stems cells. A current and well known application of stem cells includes the use of hematopoietic stem cells for bone marrow cancers. Stems cells are studied for their utility in treating a variety of diseases, particularly to treat organ damage and conditions involving a dysfunctional immune system. 

Prevent Recurring Tumors with Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy is becoming a promising treatment approach for cancer patients with recurring tumors, and more studies will help to further develop the treatment options.

Surgical resection is still the first-line treatment for solid tumors despite the rate of tumor recurrence with this approach. Surgery to remove tumors provokes wound healing processes that promote local immunosuppressive environments and metastasis. Surgical resection of tumors can also remove beneficial immune cells and factors that could promote targeting and killing of tumor cells. Radio- or chemotherapy as an adjunct to surgery has some limited effects on distant metastasis, but these treatments are associated with significant systemic adverse effects. 

Dendritic Cells Change Game for Immunotherapy for Cancer Patients

Further development and wider use of dendritic cell-based anticancer vaccines has the potential to significantly increase cancer survival rates and improve the quality of life and function with fewer adverse effects.

Anticancer therapy using the patient’s own immune cells is an ever-growing area of cancer research that supports personalized medical efforts. This approach in immunotherapy provides specific results that can spare normal tissue and considerably decrease adverse side effects. The use of dendritic cells, powerful antigen-presenting cells of the immune system, is extensively studied. Positive gains have been realized in this arena and are changing the face of cancer therapy.

Genes That Enable Adult Cells to Divide and Multiply May Help Regenerate Heart Tissue

A new study showed that a cell-cycle regulator combination can induce cardiomyocyte proliferation and cell survival.

Myocardial infarction (MI or heart attack) is a result of decreased blood flow to heart tissue and heart tissue damage. The challenges in recovery from MI is due to the limited ability of regenerative processes within heart. The discovery of stem cells present in adult heart tissue has led to extensive research regarding their use for cardiac cell therapy. Some favorable effects of cardiac stem cell transplantation in injured cardiac tissue has been observed, but this may be due to processes unrelated to the growth of new cardiomyocytes.

New Progress in Immunotherapy Strategies

State-of-the-art immunotherapies may show great promise in the future for cancer treatment.

Immunotherapy research results show that cancer treatment may need a combination approach. Dr. Andrew S. Chi, the chief of neuro-oncology and the codirector of the Brain Tumor Center at NYU Langone, weighed in on the state of developed immunotherapy approaches. A number of strategies involve increasing T-cell activation against tumors by the use of checkpoint inhibitors (that block proteins that inhibit immune system attack of cancer cells). Dr. Chi points out that combinations of immune checkpoint inhibitors may be more effective. 

Promising Treatment for Multiple Myeloma on the Horizon

Researchers believe combining elotuzumab and PBMC treatments with ASCT and lenalidomide maintenance may be an effective treatment option for multiple myeloma.

Multiple myeloma (MM) is a hematological cancer of bone marrow plasma cells. In MM, the antibody-producing plasma cells transform into malignant myeloma cells that produce abnormal antibodies (M proteins). When M proteins accumulate, they outnumber and overcrowd the normal antibodies. Patients with MM can experience bone and kidney damage, anemia, and an impaired immune system.

Stem Cell-Like Function of Adult Immune Cells Stimulate Healing

New research suggests that wound fluid induced macrophage clustering shows improved healing.

Tissue damage is repaired by the proliferation of normal cells, tissue stem cell maturation, and scar formation. However, the inflammation associated with tissue damage or injury promotes cell plasticity as part of the tissue repair process. Fibroblasts that are critical for wound healing are mesenchymal cells that are actually derived from myeloid cells such as macrophages. Macrophages are immune cells that are the first line of defense against pathogens. They are also important in wound healing and inflammatory processes.

Improved Cancer Immunotherapy Possible with Dendritic Cell Vaccines

Personalized dendritic cell vaccines have continued to show success with the treatment of certain cancers. 

Dendritic cell vaccines are increasingly showing success in the treatment of certain cancers. Dendritic cells are antigen-presenting cells that process antigens then present them to T cells. In the personalized approach to using dendritic cells vaccines, cells are obtained from the patient, exposed or loaded with cancer antigens, and grown. The resulting antigen-loaded dendritic cells are injected back into the patient, where the dendritic cells can elicit the anti-cancer immune response of T cells.

Progress in Sickle Cell Cure Research

The findings of a new study on sickle cell disease may lead to a new era in the approach to treatment.

Sickle cell disease (often referred to as sickle cell anemia) is a group of blood disorders in which the blood cells have an abnormal sickle shape instead of the biconcave disk shape. The sickle-shaped cells have a shorter life span (leading to anemia), but they also block normal blood flow leading to pain and organ dysfunction. There is no cure, and treatments that exist are aimed to control symptoms and related complications.

What Are the Benefits to Using Disease State Samples?

Disease state specimens boost the ability to achieve scientific advances and characterize the cellular and molecular features of a disease and its progression.

Progress in personalized medicine continues as more methods are developed to enhance diagnostic and prognostic efforts. Molecular technologies allow the identification of factors that can be used for early disease diagnosis, prediction of disease susceptibility, monitor disease development, determine treatment effectiveness, and to determine a patient’s disease prognosis. The availability of disease state specimens has bolstered the ability to achieve these advances and to characterize the cellular and molecular features of a disease and its progression.