A number of different reports have shown that adult stem cells can save limbs that might otherwise have been amputated. The most recent results, published in Bone Marrow Transplantation, reported salvage of legs in seven out of nine patients treated with their own peripheral blood adult stem cells. The paper also gives a nice summary of some of the previous clinical trials in this area.
Critical limb ischemia, the severe loss of oxygen to extremities, is an end-stage of peripheral artery disease (PAD). often results in amputation of the affected limb, and can be life-threatening. Cathy Ballzigler almost lost her life, but after receiving her own adult stem cells, both her life and her leg were saved. Tom Fisher is another example; he was facing amputation of his leg due to diabetic complications, but the leg was saved after injection of his own adult stem cells.
A few of the clinical trials currently available.
(David Prentice, FRC Blog post, January 20)
A new adult stem cell treatment developed in the UK has restored sight to several patients in a trial. Researchers at the North East England Stem Cell Institute regrew the outside membrane of damaged corneas from stem cells taken from a healthy eye. All of them were suffering from limbal stem cell deficiency, a painful eye disease that prevents the cornea from renewing itself.
Dr Francisco Figueiredo, who co-led the project, told the London Telegraph: "Corneal cloudiness has been estimated to cause blindness in eight million people worldwide each year. The stem cell treatment option is aimed at total cure rather than symptom relief only. This new treatment will alleviate patient suffering and remove the need for long term multiple medications as well as returning the patient to functional and social independence."
A larger trial with a longer follow-up will be carried out to determine whether the treatment is reliable, safe and effective in the long term.
(Michael Cook, BioEdge post, January 22)