The possibility of repairing an injury, such as a fracture, or disease, such as diabetes, using stem cells from the same body is less and less a sci-fi issue
This is why Luciano Rodríguez, director of the Madre Cell Bank of Barcelona (Spain), one of the most recognized experts in the field of so-called cell regeneration, is convinced.
Last week he attended the Biennale of the Bogotana Society of Gynecology to present the experimental results achieved in humans, based on models raised in the laboratory.
This technique involves the use of adult stem cells (with the ability to produce some tissues), with the purpose of repairing damaged structures of the body.
It is based on the premise that in the adult body there are these types of cells in the cornea, in the bone marrow, in the olfactory mucosa and even in the heart; that can be removed, isolated, classified and grown and then injected directly into the site of the injury or through the bloodstream.
It is believed that once at the site these cells nest and begin to grow on their own and produce substances that favor the generation of new tissues.
Although in theory this would work for all tissues, the safety of these cells (they are of the same person, therefore do not generate rejection) has allowed human experiences in cases of diabetes, heart attacks, bone fractures and nerve tissue.
Rodriguez insists that his group already uses this technique for therapeutic purposes, in phase three clinical trials (with humans). “We have had good results regenerating bone in people with fractures who have not welded. Cells mixed in an enriched plasma are applied directly to the injured area, which help stimulate bone molding from cartilage production,” Rodriguez explains.
Luz Mabel Avila, scientific director of the Stem Cell Bank of Colombia, says that “working with these cells has no ethical restrictions, as those extracted from embryos do, because they are a reserve for self-renewal of tissues when they are needed. Unfortunately, the possibility of these cells becoming others is lost with age.”
And it says that the favorable thing is that the manipulation of these cells has not shown that they can be transformed, that is, there is no danger of them becoming cancerous.
What these techniques are looking for is to replicate natural processes of the organism, identified in recent times. For example, when a person suffers extensive burns, the bone marrow (where the blood is produced) receives a stimulus that causes cells to travel to the injured area with these features, which have the function of producing new skin. The same goes for inflammations and other diseases.
Fatty tissue could be a great, more affordable reserve of adult stem cells. What scientists do is establish how these mechanisms work and after manipulating them use them in a controlled manner.
There are different types of stem cells There are cells with the ability to originate any of the 200 types of cells in the body: they are stem cells or progenitor cells. There are several types: Totipotencial: they can originate an entire organism; occur when an egg binds to a sperm.
Pluripotentials: have the ability to generate cells from different types of tissues (muscle, bone, neurons, skin, among others), but not to produce an entire body.
Multipotentials: can specialize in producing cells in a single family: for example, the mother of all blood cells (red, white blood cells, platelets).
The adult body has mainly multipotential stem cells or adult stem cells. Science seeks methods to isolate, grow, and use them to repair or replace damaged tissues.