Posted on Oct 12, 2013

Any type of transplant surgery is considered difficult for various reasons, which is why most surgeons try to pursue other options before resorting to transplants. But new stem cell therapy may be able to make transplant therapy much safer and more convenient.

Transplant surgery is extremely serious because there is always a chance that the body will reject the transplant, as it is an organ coming in from someone else’s body. Then even if the body does accept the new organ the host body receiving the organ has to take ten or more different types of medication daily for the rest of their life to keep the new organ in tact. Another downfall is the fact that the host body’s overall life span is often decreased after an organ transplant, which is especially troublesome for young people.

But Fox news reports stem cell therapy may be revolutionizing transplant treatment. The new therapy focuses on patients waiting for liver and pancreas transplants. “The novel method involves altering the signal pathways of cells specific to the human foregut – the upper portion of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.  Through this manipulation, researchers were able to stop the cells from developing fully and push them into a state of constant self-renewal. As a result, these “foregut stem cells” can then be further amplified by physicians, who can then form them into liver or pancreatic cells.  These cells could potentially be used to treat damaged organs or tissue, in addition to conditions such as type 1 diabetes or metabolic liver disease,” according to Fox.

Researchers are extremely hopeful about this new innovative treatment plan. Fox reports, “According to the researchers, their technique improves upon existing methods for creating liver or pancreatic stem cells, which sometimes do not yield enough cells for transplantation.” The lead author of the study said, “We had identified that problem going forward: There is no process to amplify a population of cells that can be used for transplant therapy. We thought if we could develop a technique that would allow us to capture the progenitive population of cells, this would be the perfect cell type you would want to expand and have at the ready to differentiate into liver and pancreatic cells.”

Fox reports, “The result of this gene manipulation was a “purer” population of human foregut stem cells (hFSCs), able to self-renew and differentiate into any cell in the human foregut.” Researchers state that this new therapy should be able to help many patients such as those with type 1 diabetes, individuals with genetic liver problems, and those awaiting liver and pancreas transplants.

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Gerry Oginski
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