Research on the Effectiveness of Stem Cells for Regenerative Medicine 

The Capabilities of Stem Cells

Stem cells are undifferentiated cells that have the capacity to change into any specific cell type in the body. These cells once deployed to an area of injury/disease can readily change into the cell type that is needed to be replaced. Moreover, stem cells home to sites of injury by cell signals that attract them to sites of injuries. Once they reach where they need to go, they dock and commence repairing the injury/disease by releasing cytokines, chemokines, and growth factors that aid in host endogenous repair.
There are greater than 200,000 peer reviewed scientific publications on pubmed, with thousands discussing positive outcomes following the use of stem cells. From stem cell therapies for heart disease to osteoarthritis to diabetes to name a few. Below is a brief discussion of some of the positive outcomes with the use of stem cells.

Immunomodulation and Immunosuppression 

A number of studies have demonstrated the regenerative medicine and immunomodulatory properties of umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stem cells (UC-MSCs). 
These peer-reviewed scientific articles, all demonstrate the amazing benefits of using stem cells derived from umbilical cord. Most importantly, they illustrate that these umbilical cord MSCs have immunosuppressors and immunomodulatory properties that allow their use in any individual without rejection since the cells do not express HLA-DR. Of note, stem cells derived from umbilical cord tissue (particularly those derived from Wharton’s jelly) have better immunomodulatory properties than with bone marrow or fat derived stem cells.

Stem Cells and Osteoarthritis 

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are known to have the potential to regenerate articular cartilage. Studies have shown that intra-articular injection of stem cells provided improved knee function and less pain with no adverse events.
Researchers have noticed improvements to both joint function and disease modification with MSC treatment. MSCs can be combined with platelet lysates or hyaluronic acid, as in some of the studies below.

MSCs to Treat Diabetes Complications

In one study, intramuscular MSC injection significantly improved the ulcer healing rate for type 2 diabetic patients with critical limb ischemia (CLI) and foot ulcers.

MSCs have also been used to help the body generate more insulin-producing cells, to counteract autoimmunity, and to prevent rejection of allogeneic islet grafts.

Fighting Infection: MSCs May Enhance Antibiotic Sensitivities

Research suggests that MSCs secrete bioactive molecules which act as antimicrobial agents against e-coli and Gram-positive bacteria.

Additionally, research on the use of MSCs to treat cystic fibrosis infections demonstrates that “(1) soluble products generated by hMSCs significantly decrease Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, and Streptococcus pneumoniae CFUs as well as having an impact on the growth rate of these pathogens; (2) the antimicrobial effectiveness of the hMSCs supernatants can enhance the effectiveness of antibiotics used to treat these types of infections.” The results of this study show that MSCs could enhance antibiotic sensitivity, improving a cell’s capacity to kill bacteria and slow bacterial growth.  

Stem Cells in the Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease

In a recent trial, bone-marrow MSCs were administered to Parkinson’s patients to differentiate into dopamine secretory cells. Almost half of the participants showed steady improvement over 10-36 months. 

Research on Stem Cells and Heart Disease

Stem cells have shown most promise in the treatment of heart disease as stem cells could actually rebuild and replace damaged heart muscle tissue.  Scientists have been able to culture mesenchymal stem cells to differentiate into cells resembling cardiacmyocytes (the tissues lost when cardiac tissues are deprived of oxygen).

In a 2012 study on treatments for ischemic cardiomyopathy (ICM), patients who received stem cell therapy were observed to have increased functional capacity and improved quality of life.