Nearly 7 million people in the U.S. (about 2% of the total U.S. population) suffer some level of stroke-related brain damage and related health problems. Studies in animals suggest that cell-based therapies can improve post-stroke outcomes. To determine the safety of cell-therapy approaches in humans, researchers from Stanford University conducted a clinical trial to study the safety of a procedure to transplant donor stem cells in the brains of patients with chronic stroke.
Canadian doctors observe complete stable remission of the autoimmune disorder myasthenia gravis in all seven patients that underwent autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation in their hospital in the past 14 years.
Olympic Games 2004, Athens, Greece. It’s the men’s 400m hurdles finals. American athlete James Carter barrels over the hurdles, going strong, leading the pack. He looks a far cry from his younger 12-year-old self. Back then, he was unable to run, barely able to walk, and his muscles did not follow his mind’s orders. Eventually, he was diagnosed with the autoimmune disorder myasthenia gravis (MG) and had his thymus removed. Mr. Carter knows about hurdles.
He may have loved to eat kiwifruit. He may have been indifferent towards the fuzzy green egg-shaped things. He may not have liked them at all. But, whatever his attitude towards the innocent-looking berries was, he was not allergic to them. That is, until, at age 26, he needed a bone marrow transplant to battle acute lymphocytic leukemia. His sister turned out to be a matching donor, and the transplantation was a success. It kept the leukemia in check.
Donor-derived lymphocytes attack a patient's cancer -- but may attack the patient as well. Donor CAR T cells, on the other hand, brought remissions without this troubling complication.
CAR T cells continue to make waves: At the latest annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, it was announced that CAR T cells, in which T cells from a patient are genetically reprogrammed to target cancer cells, removed all traces of cancer in the bone marrow of 27 out of 29 acute lymphoblastic leukemia patients. Nineteen of 30 individuals with non-Hodgkin lymphoma also responded in the form of partial or complete responses. The cumulative successes found in CAR T cell studies have labeled them "extraordinary."
Finding a stem cell donor that could cure an HIV patient is difficult; performing the transplant is dangerous. What if we could use patients own stem cells instead?
Depending on how you look at it, Timothy Ray Brown was an unlucky or lucky man. The famous "Berlin patient" was not only HIV-positive but faced a daunting diagnosis of acute myeloid leukemia. Treatment failed, so Mr. Brown underwent the standard procedure for such cases: an intense chemotherapy and radiation regimen to knock down his blood stem cells and make way for those from a healthy donor.