5 Advances in Stem Cell Research

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There's no question that one of the more promising and exciting fields of medical research is the use of stem cells.  Here's a roundup of stem cell studies that provided breakthrough discoveries and potential new treatments for a variety of conditions.

Autoimmune Disorders

A new study in Cell Stem Cell has found that infusing mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) appeared to control autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus, and others. The infusion of MSC calmed the overactive immune cells, such as T- and B-lymphocytes, by suppressing production and function.


Researchers from UCLA found, for the first time, that human stem cells engineered to fight HIV can suppress the virus in living human tissue implanted in mice. Previously, the scientists had shown that creating cells which seek and destroy HIV was possible in theory, but hadn't proven that it could be done in a living subject. More research needs to be done before the success in mice can be replicated in humans.


A study published in Nature Communications found that hair follicles from adult stem cells that were implanted into the skin of bald mice became fully functional and integrated in surrounding tissue, and developed normal hair cycles. It’s the first time this has been done. The researchers said this could not only lead to a cure for baldness, but could also be an advance in "organ replacement regenerative therapies."


Researchers have taken stem cells derived from adult skin and created living human motor neurons, a development that improves the chances of finding effective treatments for Motor Neurone Disease, such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Having a lab model of the disease should improve researchers' understanding of the condition, as well as their ability to develop new drugs.

Brain Injury

A study published in Neurosurgery looked at brain-injured rats and found that stem cells injected into the carotid artery, which travel directly the the brain, greatly improved motor function. The lead researcher said this new technique, along with optical imaging to track the stem cells, could offer a new approach for using stem cells in brain trauma cases.