Professor Emmanuelle Passegué of the University of California in San Francisco worked with a research team to find reasons for the aging of stem cells. The professor was lucky and may explain why the immune system weakens with age and increases the risk of infections.
From stem cells from umbilical cord blood, researchers are hoping the breakthrough in the fight against many diseases such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, liver damage and more. Recent studies confirm the potential.
A mechanism is needed in the human body for the exact copy of the DNA and thus the genetic material is damaged with age. When genetic information that is passed on to daughter stem cells, it may therefore appear to lead to defective copies. A corollary is that the immune system in old age is becoming weaker.
In aging immune systems often lack immune cells, which are essential for the production of valuable antibodies to fight bacteria and viruses. Therefore, diseases such as pneumonia affect in the elderly significantly worse than in young and can then advance a deadly threat. This fact is also the reason why there is a recommended maximum age of 55 years for stem cell donors.
When a stem cell transplant, the blood-forming stem cells are exposed to a massive division of stress, which in turn triggers an aging boost. For the receiver, this means that the more younger the donor, the better his or her system. After all, he has to live with the donor's immune system after transplantation.
Cord Blood - hope and possibilities
In newborns, the vitality of the blood-forming stem cells at the maximum level. Not only their ability to divide working properly and without errors, also there are still no DNA damage and the adaptability of the cells is enormous. Since babies naturally not come for ethical reasons as a donor in question, the removal of stem cells from umbilical cord blood is an effective alternative to attract young cells as possible.
The extraction takes place directly after the umbilical cord and is completely painless for both the mother and for the child. The harvested stem cells are frozen at private or public stem cell banks in extreme sub-zero temperatures and thus made durable for decades. On the website of the oldest private stem cell bank in Europe Vita 34 in which the freezing of cord blood and storing can be realized for later, the currently realistic applications of stem cells were summarized as follows:
"Stem cells from umbilical cord blood have been used, among other things already in leukemia, childhood brain damage or hematopoietic disorders. In addition, see the all-rounder used in correcting and regeneration of the immune system and the stimulation of hematopoiesis after chemotherapy."
Parents can make provisions to the storing of stem cells and their offspring have a potentially useful supply of stem cells. However, these applications are not everything. Stem cell research has great faith in the components of the cord blood.
Global studies have shown a variety of applications
American researchers have recently found that cord blood stem cells can also be used for the prevention of infections and could therefore provide further areas of application in view. Maybe even HIV and Ebola heal. The mentioned study was published recently in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
In the study, researchers examined whether taken from umbilical cord blood T cells can be used in transplant recipients who are infected with cytomegalovirus, CMV shortly. If CMV is a herpes virus, which can lead to immunosuppression striking problems. The aim was to find out whether these cells can be used and how safe is the method.
The researchers were able to successfully demonstrate that this does not bring activated and naive T cells to kill virus-infected cells. Dr. Patrick Hanley from the Children's Research Institute in Washington declared that obtained from umbilical cord blood T cells that have not yet developed immunity because of their young age and therefore have an advantageous effect in virus-infected patients. Was an organ donor specific virus not exposed, this is accompanied by an increased risk for the donor. Because there is a lack of virus-specific T-cells which are necessary for controlling a virus.
The team led by Dr. Patrick Hanley, it is the first time to show that it is possible from naive T cells produce virus-specific T cells. The cells used for this purpose came from cord blood and adult donors.
Hanley announced: "Now we are able to expand our range and generate virus-specific T cells from CMV negative donors, which was not previously possible." The co-author of the study, Dr. Bollard, confirmed that could be clarified with the study that virucidal T cells are safe from naive cord blood and can be used for preventive measures against infections in high-risk patients.
According Bollard there are many areas of application for more viruses such as HIV or Ebola. This study shows that stem cell research in full swing and is to underestimate the potential of stem cells in any way. Those who opt for the storage of stem cells from umbilical cord blood, should providers prefer, store the whole blood. Finally, the research is at the beginning and it is still uncertain which parts will be used from the blood into the future for curative and preventive purposes.
In the US in late 2014 launched a major research project that deals with the based on stem cells from umbilical cord blood treatment of cerebral cerebral palsy, autism and stroke. The research project is scheduled for five years and was funded by 41 million dollars. Prof. Joan Kurtzberg, director of the Cell Therapy Center of Duke University Durham, and Prof. Geraldine Dawson, director of the Autism Center is responsible for the project. 580 patients taking part.
Independently of these studies, positive results could otherwise be achieved using the cord blood stem cells with animal experiments in numerous diseases. Among other things, this applies to diseases such as:
Whether the all-rounder cells can be artificially produced, only time will tell. Stem cell research works in all directions in order to differentiate the options. The following documentation is German-Israeli research projects which pursue a slightly different direction.
It remains to be seen what effects can be achieved with the versatile stem cells. It is recognized, however, that many most distinguished scientists are convinced of the therapeutic potential of cord blood stem cells.