Category Archives: stem cell news

vision restoration stem cells

Treating Blindness: Vision Restoration w/ Stem Cell Therapy

Stem cells and vision restoration – “I once was lost, but now I’m found; was blind, but now I see” – Amazing Grace

jesus blind man vision

trust me, I’m the Messiah

What could be a more powerful part of how we define ourselves and our world than our eyesight? You can imagine how losing your vision would profoundly change your very perception of the world.

The idea of restoring sight to the blind, literally and metaphorically, has fascinated us for eons. While Jesus used good old-fashioned spit and dirt to heal the blind, scientists now see promise in restoring vision with stem cell therapy.

Macular degeneration

Last year scientists successfully restored sight to a blind person who suffered from a disease called macular degeneration, which is the most common cause of vision loss in older adults. Macular degeneration affects our central vision, which is crucial to everyday tasks like driving or reading a book. The disease can progress slowly, or rapid vision loss, and there are currently no treatment options available for age-related macular degeneration.

How can you treat blindness or restore vision with stem cells?

In this type of stem cell therapy, scientists inject about 3 drops of retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells grown from embryonic stem cells under a patient’s retina, which is detached for the procedure.

The RPE cells helped to repair and replace damaged photo-receptors in the retina which are vital to eyesight and light detection and pass information to the brain.

The Boston-based company, Advanced Cell Technology, which performed the procedure have yet to publish complete date from the trials, but plan on moving forward with advanced trials with dozens of participants in the near future.

If proven to be safe and effective, you can imagine the promise that stem cell treatments could provide to restore vision, including the nearly 200 million older adults who suffer from macular degeneration.


Also of interest: stem cells and vision restoration:

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diet stem cells

Your Diet & Blood Sugar Levels Affect Your Stem Cells

Diet, Blood Sugar Levels, & Exercise Help Stem Cells: Recently doctors have seen that fatty foods aren’t the real enemy in the war on heart disease in this country, and that sugar and refined carbohydrates are the real enemy, as they directly affect all-important blood sugar levels.

These blood sugar levels, or “glycemic index,” are what diabetics pay close attention to, but it’s extremely important to all of us. It also appears obvious that there is an important link between your diet and stem cells.

One example is that in a recent study, those with poor blood sugar control (including diabetics) had fewer stem cells circulating to repair damaged arteries. In other words, the whole, “you are what you eat” concept certainly applies on a cellular level as well. Here are a couple more articles which mention this diet / stem cell link:

Really what this amounts to is that most people would likely benefit from a low glycemic diet. blood sugar levels are central to any healthy diet or weight loss plan. Popular, easy to follow weight loss programs such as South Beach Diet, the Zone diet, and parts of Weight Watchers have proven results in this area.

In fact, you can see a list of the best diets for diabetics here, and don’t forget to claim diabetes expenses as a tax deduction if you have a note from your doctor!


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type1 diabetes stemcell

Can Stem Cells Help Type 1 Diabetes?

diabetes stem cell

type 1 diabetes & stem cells

Stem Cells and Type 1 Diabetes: I’ve been asked more than once if there was anything that stem cells could do to cure or help fight Type 1 diabetes. Actually, until recently there really wasn’t much progress in that area.

Recently, in an experimental study, 28 teens with type 1 diabetes underwent a stem cell procedure (using their own stem cells) hoping that it could allow them to stay off their insulin injections.

The results of this (small) study? Fifteen of the 28 teens were able to stay off of insulin injections for an average of a year and a half; one of these teens with type 1 diabetes has actually gone without insulin injections for three and a half years.

How does the stem cell treatment work to fight type 1 diabetes? Known as a “cocktail” treatment, stem cell therapy in this case is combined with drugs for a double barrel attack on type 1 diabetes. Because type 1 diabetes generally attacks the immune system, (pancreatic insulin producing cells) the drugs used in this procedure function to suppress the immune system so that the stem cell therapy component can be more affective.

The stem cells used are harvested from the patient prior to treatment, frozen, and then reintroduced during treatment. These “immature” stem cells haven’t learned bad behavior yet, and replace the destructive cells that previously were attacking the patients insulin producing cells.

Although researchers are in the early stages, this treatment shows a lot of promise for the treatment of type 1 diabetes in children.

The findings of this study (including side effect, diet, & weight info) were introduced to the American Diabetes Association, and will appear in July’s issue of the Diabetes Care journal.

Read more


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Stem Cell Transplant Helps Hawaii Professor Live

kessler stem cell

video chat w/ Turkish doctor

University of Hawaii associate professor, Cristy Kessler, was suffering from a rare combination of three different autoimmune diseases: Vasculitis, Scleroderma, and Akylosing Spondyliitis. The pain was so bad, that, in her own words, she was “preparing to die.” She was constantly on a combination of prescription pain medications including morphine and vicadin, and could barely walk down the street.

Stem cell transplant looked like the only viable option for Cristy, but because the procedure is not approved by the FDA or covered by insurance, she would have to look overseas for options.

Eventually, she did find an option: the Anadolou Hospital in Istanbul, Turkey. Because her disease was still in the early phase, doctors were optimistic about her prognosis. In March 2010, Dr. Zafer Gulbas led the taxing two month long procedure consisting of chemotherapy, frequent blood tests, and isolation.

Although long term results won’t be measured for some time, the stem cell transplant seems to have been a success. Kessler is now off the prescription pain medications that she previously depended on just to function, and has a new life. Her immune system is fragile and she is dependent on antibiotics, but says she now wants to enjoy music and “dance like a fool” without being in pain. Watch the video from KITV Honolulu



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stem cell treatment for babies with spina bifida

Fetal Stem Cell Treatment: Offering Hope for Babies With Spina Bifida

Spina bifida is a condition in which the baby’s spinal cord doesn’t close properly during a pregnancy. It’s two words that soon-to-be parents don’t want to hear during an ultrasound, (I’ve heard it myself) and it’s one of the main reasons women are told to take prenatal vitamins with folic acid.

Fetal Stem Cell Treatment for Myelomeningocele

The effects of spina bifida range in severity, but cause varying degrees of cognitive, urological, (incontinence) and motor disabilities. The most common form of spina bifida is called “myelomeningocele,” in which the spinal cord emerges through the back, pulling brain tissue into the spinal column. With myelomeningocele permanent shunts are needed to drain fluid around the brain.

Fetal surgery + stem cell treatment for spina bifida

While fetal surgery for spina bifida revolutionized treatment by improving brain development, it largely came up short in helping to benefit motor function. The landmark Management of Myelomeningocele Study showed the effectiveness of fetal surgery for brain development, but most children treated were still unable to walk independently at 30 months of age.

However, new research from UC Davis Health System suggests that fetal surgery combined with stem cell treatment offers hope of a cure for spina bifida before birth.

Promising Results Treating Spina Bifida in Animals: Fetal Surgery + Stem Cell Treatment

In a recent study 12 lambs with spina bifida were given standard fetal surgery, while half of the group also received stem cell treatment.

The six animals who received the stem cell treatment showed noticeable improvement compared with the control group. All 6 animals treated with the additional stem cell therapy had the ability to walk without noticeable disability in the hours after birth.

This, of course, has led doctors to believe that such promising results in animal testing can also benefit human babies diagnosed with spina bifida as well.