Adult Stem Cell Center, 2030
If you could cure any disease, what would it be? Cancer? Diabetes? Stroke? Bioengineering Professor Liping Tang and Ramesh Saxena, an associate professor at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, are shooting for all of the above with their research on stem cell production and harvesting.
They have discovered that by utilizing medical devices such as catheters, they can create 200 times as many adult stem cells as other harvesting methods. Moreover, the adult stem cells created are multi-potent, meaning they have all kinds of functions.
“In our research, the stem cells recovered could be reintroduced into the same person who produced them to help fight disease,” Dr. Tang says. “Those adult stem cells also could be used for tissue engineering and stem cell therapies.”
The research team already has produced heart stem cells outside the body, as well as muscle, fat, nerve, and bone cells. Currently, bone marrow is considered the most abundant source of adult stem cells, as it can yield 500,000 stem cells from one patient. Tang’s method can yield more than 100 million stem cells.
“We have to do more testing, but preliminary reports have been encouraging,” he says. “The new cells are going home into the site of an injury.”
The professor thinks that in two to five years donors could be using an adult stem cell bank just like a blood bank. “Imagine people coming into the bank and getting adult stem cells for their spinal cord injury or diabetes. That would be marvelous.”