DIABETES

On the third of March 2010, UK based leading stem cell Therapy Company ReNeuron announced positive pre-clinical data for the treatment of Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) in Diabetic Patients using its indigenously developed Stem cell line ReN009. PAD occurs when there is a build-up of plaque in the arteries. This plaque generally is made up of fats and cholesterol, calcium and fibrous components of the body. Periodic build-up of such fats in the arteries can cause them to harden and narrow the lumen (Hollow space) of the artery. This narrowing prevents proper blood flow within the body. Known as Atherosclerosis, this generally affects blood flow to the legs but can also affect flow to kidneys hands and other parts of the body. PAD is a chronic and debilitating disease that progressively restricts blood flow in the limbs, causing cramping, chronic pain and in extreme cases, amputation.  PAD is commonly associated with other conditions, including diabetes, obesity and stroke.  At least 1 in 20 people over the age of 55 have some degree of PAD and it becomes more common with increasing age. For more on this disease please click here


The current research was conducted in collaboration with Professor Paolo Madeddu, Dr Rajesh Katare and colleagues at the Bristol Heart Institute, University of Bristol, UK, and is based on earlier successful pre-clinical efficacy studies with ReN009 conducted by that group.  In this latest study, researchers tested the newly-developed freeze-thaw formulation of ReNeuron’s CTX stem cell line, via intramuscular injection, in a recognized diabetic mouse model of hind limb ischaemia.  The CTX cell line forms the basis of ReNeuron’s ReN009 therapy for PAD as well as its ReN001 therapy for stroke.  Initial clinical trials with ReN001 are due to commence in the UK shortly, following following final regulatory approval last month.1

The results of the new ReN009 study initially showed that the diabetic mice had reduced blood flow capacity compared to the non-diabetic control mice. When treated with the ReN009 cells, the diabetic mice exhibited a significant and dose-dependent recovery of blood flow to the ischaemic limb, with significantly increased re-vascularisation of the damaged tissue as measured by increased capillary and arteriole density.  These results were presented by poster at the Diabetes UK Annual Professional Conference in Liverpool, UK, running from 3-5 March.1

This therapy is being developed as an allogenic (non-patient specific) stem cell treatment for late-stage PAD, or critical limb ischaemia, in diabetic patients for whom PAD is a side-effect of their diabetes.  In diabetic patients, PAD progresses rapidly with vascular surgery showing a poor prognosis and many a times leaving doctors with only amputation as the option for treatment.  A stem cell- based therapy like the ReN009, offers hope to be able to enable the rebuilding of the vascular system in the limb and hence restoring blood flow to that limb and probably preventing amputation.

This is one technology to look out for! !

RETINITIS PIGMENTOSA

On February eighteenth, 2010, ReNeuron announced that its collaborative research in the US with the Schepens Eye Research Institute at Harvard Medical School would receive a boost in terms of funding from a private company in the US. The aim this time is to take research to the clinics in the US for the treatment of the disease known as Retinitis Pigmentosa. Retinitis Pigmentosa is a group of inherited disorders characterized by progressive peripheral vision loss and night vision difficulties (nyctalopia) that can lead to central vision loss. For more on this disease, click here.

This will be the first phase of a two year translational programme to take human retinal progenitor cells (hRPCs), a cell line that has been designated as ReN003 and extrapolate results to human patients in the US. This phase will aim to demonstrate an improvement in vision after grafting of hRPCs in ophthalmic disease models.

Following transplantation in a rodent model of damaged retina, the hRPCs were seen to integrate with the host retinal tissue and differentiate to express the protein rhodopsin, a marker for the light- sensitive rod cells found in healthy retina. This research has tremendous implications not only for Retinitis Pigmentosa, though this is the initial target, but also for other degenerative and age-related disorders affecting sight, such as age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. The lead investigator of these studies at the Harvard medical School is Dr. Michael Young.

I hope that both the experimental treatments outlined above will be reality soon and we will be able to bid goodbye to debilitating and even life-threatening disorders such as the ones outlined here very soon.

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References:

  1. http://www.reneuron.com/news__events/news/document_239_237.php
  2. http://www.reneuron.com/news__events/news/document_237_237.php