Clinical Research

Stem cell therapy represents one of the most interesting and promising areas within regenerative medicine. Below, you’ll find several studies detailing the efficacy of stem cell therapies in treating neurological, autoimmune, degenerative, and orthopedic conditions.

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The nervous system is deeply complex, and there are lots of ways things can go wrong. Traumatic brain injuries and neurodegenerative conditions like Parkinson’s Disease, ALS, and Alzheimer’s, can disrupt the nervous system’s ability to function. The mechanisms by which these disorders breakdown neural processes varies significantly, everything from neurons being stripped of the fat sheaths that enable proper function to the accumulation of harmful proteins. While these mechanisms vary, clinical research has shown potential for stem cell therapies to repair and reverse damage to the nervous system.



Also known as Lou Gherig’s disease, ALS is a neurodegenerative disease that affects motor neuron function in the primary motor cortex, the brainstem and the spinal cord. In ALS, these areas of the brain are affected by a rapid degeneration or death of nerve (neural) cells, a process which ultimately leads to an overall loss in the ability to control muscle action. Currently, there is no effective therapy for ALS as its pathogenic properties remain unknown. However, recent studies have indicated that Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), which are found in various body tissues, can be used to treat degeneration for ALS patients.

These mesenchymal stem cells can be found in bone marrow and adipose (fat) tissue, and can potentially differentiate between different cell types. In the case of ALS, recent studies have found that MSCs can contribute to the upregulation of T lymphocytes, which are responsible for the modulation of the immune system. Cell transplantation, studies have shown, stimulate the production of these T regulatory stem cells as well as anti-inflammatory cytokines, both of which can slow down the progression of ALS. Other studies have demonstrated that MSCs can also help modulate motor neuron response to cell death and inflammation, as well as regulating toxic processes so that there is an overall decrease in cell death.

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Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson’s Disease is one of the most common and prevalent neurodegenerative diseases in the world. It is characterized by the loss and degeneration of the neurons involved in the secretion of dopamine. Abnormal dopamine levels can impair numerous neurological functions, including delays in movement, reaction and coordination.

Research has shown that Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) can help with some of the most common symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. One long term clinical study found that stem cell transplantation led to improvements in common symptoms including facial expression, gait and freezing episodes, and research has also shown improvements in other common behaviors such as tremor and motility.

These results reflect the qualities of MSCs identified by stem cell researchers. The cells have the anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties, meaning that they can mitigate to sites of injury to help stimulate the body to heal and restore itself. What this means in the case of Parkinson’s is that transplanted MSCs can support the activation of neurogenesis, the protection and regeneration of damaged dopaminergic neurons, and the integration of new neurons into a functional network.

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Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries could change spinal function either permanently or temporarily. Changes may translate to a loss of muscle function and sensation, as well as autonomic dysfunctions which could cause serious disability.

Studies have shown that Mesenchymal Stem Cells can help repair the spinal cord after serious injury. Transplanting MSCs into the area of injury could lead to self-renewal due to the regenerative nature of these stem cells.

MSCs can give rise to neural-like cells and differentiate across different cell lineages. They can create a paracrine effect in neurotrophic molecules, as well inhibit H2O2-mediated apoptosis that occurs during spinal cord injury. What this means is that they can help rescue impaired neural function after spinal cord injury, promote neural regeneration, replace lost neural cells, and overall improve cell’s ability to survive.

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A stroke occurs when there is a sudden interruption in brain flow. The most common of these is an ischemic stroke, which is the result of an obstruction within a blood vessel that is supplying oxygen to the brain.

Research has shown that mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) may aid recovery in stroke sufferers. The stem cells could increase the levels of brain protection after the stroke, as well as improve overall neurological functions. Because of the naturally anti-inflammatory and regenerative qualities of these stem cells, MSCs have the potential of reducing cell death, promoting cellular proliferation, and normalizing ischemia-induced changes that occurred after stroke. MSCs may also stimulate the secretion of cytokines, and growth and trophic factors, all of which are all active mechanisms that play an essential role in neurological functions.

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Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one of the major causes of death and disability around the world. As the name suggests, it occurs after a violent blow or jolt to the head or the body, whereby the impact is strong enough to create a mechanical force that ultimately impairs normal brain function.

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) derived from various tissues can produce growth and trophic factors, which are essential in neural development and maintenance, both in vitro (in a lab culture) and in vivo (inside a living being). For TBI patients with damaged brain cells, MSCs have facilitated the production of these factors so that a natural activation of internal restorative mechanisms within the injured brain can occur. MSCs have also shown the ability to restore cerebral blood flow by inducing the formation of new blood vessels.

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Alzheimer’s is involved in the degeneration of neurons in the brain. The loss of neurons results in memory loss and other important memory functions. Mesenchymal stem cells, found in various tissues of the body such as bone marrow and adipose tissue, can potentially differentiate into different cell types including neurons, making stem cell therapy a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s patients. Recent studies have shown that adipose stem cells promote neuronal regeneration.  Studies have shown that stem cells induce the production of T regulator cells and anti-inflammatory cytokines, potentially slowing down the progression of Alzheimer’s. Furthermore, other studies have demonstrated the modulation of other cells to slow neuronal cell death and inflammation.

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The body’s immune system is designed to protect it from bacteria, disease, and abnormal growth, keeping you healthy. Sometimes, however, the body’s immune system attacks healthy tissue, threatening normal function. This class of conditions, autoimmune diseases, includes such conditions as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and scleroderma. Emerging clinical research, sampled below, suggests that stem cells may be able to help correct the body’s immune system and improve function in autoimmune conditions.


Multiple Sclerosis

MS is a chronic autoimmune disease where the immune cells attack the myelin sheath including nerve cells from the brain and spinal cord. When the nerve cells are demyelinated their function is disrupted leading to severe physical or cognitive problems. Mesenchymal stem cells, found in many tissues in the body including adipose and bone marrow, have the ability to differentiate into different types of cells such as nerve cells and oligodendrocytes. Oligodendrocytes create the myelin sheath around the axons. Studies have shown that demyelination was improved after the transplantation of stem cells, suggesting that stem cell therapy is a potential treatment for MS patients. In addition, the cells may have an immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory effect which leads to a recovery in locomotion function. Preclinical trials have also observed the migration of mesenchymal stem cells into the inflamed central nervous system (CNS).  The cells mayinduce the production of neuroprotective agents which help to preserve the axons in the CNS.

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Rheumatoid Arthritis

Stem cells have the potential to repair cartilage and joint tissue. MSCs may release immunosuppressive factors which help alleviate and avoid further progression of the disease. In addition, stem cell therapy may promote tissue repair in damaged joints caused by chronic inflammation. Mesenchymal stem cells also induce the production of T regulatory cells which may help to regulate autoimmune diseases. Recent studies suggest that some patients may achieve stable remission after stem cell treatment, due to the ‘resetting’ of the immune system.

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Stem Cells may help to improve skin elasticity and recovery of some functions severely impaired by scleroderma. MSCs exhibit anti-proliferative and anti-inflammatory properties, and may help to reset the immune system.  This may lead to clinical improvements or slowing the progression of autoimmune diseases like scleroderma. T-cells help to regulate immune responses and may be increased with stem cell therapy which could lead to autoimmune disease remission. In addition, a therapeutic benefit at the site of inflammation may be seen due to MSCs releasing cytokines and growth factors that result in local anti-inflammatory effects.

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Over time, the cells in our bodies naturally break down and lose some of their ability to function. When this takes place at an accelerated pace due to environmental, lifestyle, and other factors, organs can begin to work poorly, interfering with normal life. COPD, liver disease, kidney disease, diabetes, and congestive heart disease all fall into this category of degenerative disease. Stem cells have been found to help the body replace and repair these degenerating cells to improve and restore normal organ function. Below, you’ll find some of the research detailing these improvements.


Congestive Heart Failure

Mesenchymal stem cells possess vast therapeutic capacities and have shown potential in the treatment of heart failure in preclinical and some clinical settings. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) differentiate into a variety of cells. Through the use of MSCs the following was successfully seen: the induction of myogenesis and angiogenesis; differentiation of transplanted MSCs into cardiomyocytes, vascular endothelial cells, and smooth muscle cells; secretion of large amounts of VEGF, HGF, AM, and IGF-1; improvement of cardiac function and inhibition of ventricular remodeling; and decrease in collagen volume fraction in the myocardium. The primary mechanism of action for this cell therapy is through paracrine effects that include the release of cytokines, chemokines, and growth factors that inhibit apoptosis and fibrosis, enhance contractility, and activate endogenous regenerative mechanisms.

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Patients may experience improvements in function and quality of life parameters. Recent studies have shown that adipose stem cells reduce inflammation in the airway alveoli in response to cigarette smoke exposure or other airway irritants, and also decreased lung cell death. Stem cells also have the potential to stimulate the formation of new capillaries which may lead to tissue repair and oxygen delivery. Mesenchymal stem cells have shown the ability to suppress autoreactive T-cells, inhibit macrophage activation and autoimmune response which may help to improve lung functionality in COPD patients. Improvement in lung capacity can be measured by exercise capacity. Patients’ improvements may be also monitored by the St. George Respiratory Questionnaire.

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Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) found in several bodily tissues, such as bone marrow and adipose tissue, have the capacity to differentiate and migrate to the site of damage and secrete growth factors or cytokines. In type 1 diabetes the insulin producing cells, B-cells within the pancreatic islets are being destructed by the immune system. Mesenchymal stem cell implantation may increase insulin secretion and increase the number of islet cells in the pancreas. Some studies have also shown the ability of MSCs to differentiate into B-cells which expressed the insulin gene, therefore having the ability to reverse diabetes mellitus. Furthermore, MSCs may travel or home to the sight of injury, in this case in pancreatic islets and the liver where they may contribute to tissue repair and remodeling, as well as improving metabolic function. According to cell therapy studies of diabetes type 2, patients have shown a reduction of glucose levels in the blood.

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Kidney Disease

Chronic kidney disease, also known as chronic kidney failure, is the gradual loss of functions in this essential filtering organ. Symptoms may not be evident until the kidney is greatly impaired. At the advanced stage, the kidney failure could lead to a dangerous buildup of fluid, electrolytes and waste in the body.

The kidney is comprised of nephrons, which are tubular structures that are responsible for all the functions of this particular organ. The nephrons are lined with tubular epithelial cells, and the loss of these cells after an ischemic or toxic challenge play an important role in kidney failure.

Research has shown that mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) can migrate to the damaged kidney and restore renal function and structure. This is a quality distinctive of MSCs, which can be derived from bone marrow and adipose tissue, transplanted into the damaged area, and differentiate into tubular epithelial cells.

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Liver Disease

Liver failure is a life-threatening condition that occurs when the liver is damaged beyond repair. In some cases, this process may occur gradually, over a number of years, and may be difficult to diagnose because the initial symptoms are commonly found among many conditions. When it comes to liver failure that occurred as a result of long-term deterioration, treatments are initially concerned with rescuing as much of the liver as possible, before a transplant is required.

Research has found that the intravenous transplantation of both mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) and stem cell derived hepatocytes derived from MSCs can rescue liver failure. These stem cells, extracted from bone marrow tissue, were identified to have regenerative effects when inserted into a recipient’s liver, potentially reducing the need for organ transplantation.

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Orthopedic conditions refers to a range of conditions having to do with bone and connective tissue, including breaks, tears in tendons and ligaments, and degeneration of cartilage. Leading to pain and movement limitations, orthopedic conditions can benefit from stem cell therapies that can help heal bones, regrow cartilage, and reduce pain.


Degenerative Disc Disease

Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) display long-term proliferation, efficient self-renewal, and multipotent differentiation. Because of these characteristics, MSCs may have the ability to stop and reverse degeneration of spinal discs. Some studies have shown anincrease in disc height, disc water content, and gene expression. One of the main biological functions of MSCs is their ability to reproduce cartilage and bone tissue cells (multipotent differentiation capability). This is important in degenerative disc disease, since a large number of cells from the outer ring (annulus fibrosus) and the inner gelatinous (nucleus pulposus) of the discs are of a cartilaginous nature.

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Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are self-renewing, multipotent progenitor cells with multi-lineage potential to differentiate into cell types of mesodermal origin. Due to this attribute, MSCs can differentiate into chondrocytes, which are later replaced by bone. These cells may repair the subchondral bone without any loss of articular cartilage at the surface. MSCs have shown to therapeutically alter the progression of OA by down-regulating the release and expression of the main OA inflammatory factors and chemokines (signaling proteins secreted by cells) directly involved in the progression of the disease. According to the literature, there are reports of significant improvements in joint function, reduction in pain, and an increase of cartilage in the affected joint.

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