Healing wounds with your own stem cells

That's the case for 6 million Americans suffering from chronic wounds that can take months, even years, to heal. Millions have no other choice besides amputation, but now, a new stem cell therapy is helping change that.

Limited scleroderma, or CREST syndrome, is a subtype of scleroderma, a condition that means "hardened skin." Skin changes associated with CREST syndrome typically occur in the lower arms and legs and sometimes in the face and throat. CREST syndrome can also affect the digestive tract and can cause serious heart and lung disorders.

There is no known cure for CREST syndrome. Treatments focus on managing symptoms and preventing serious complications. Sometimes, patient with this syndrome have a difficult time healing.

Millions of Americans suffer from chronic wounds that fail to heal for months or even years. These wounds can be painful, disabling and lead to millions of amputations. Chronic wounds cost the U.S. health care system about $20 billion a year.

Doctors at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine are participating in a study that takes stem cells from a patient's own body and uses them to treat their stubborn wounds. Adult stem cells are becoming a more realistic option for treating wounds that are refusing to heal. Certain stem cells can be isolated from bone marrow and other tissues, such as adipose and skin tissue.

Rapid regeneration of skin can be achieved after the transplantation of these cells. Stem cells can be obtained not only from the outside of the skin but also from local skin. Cell therapy is the transplantation of allogeneic cells to restore viability and function of deficient tissues.

Some scholars believe that the plasticity of stem cells is a result of the cell fusion between adult stem cells and skin cells. Therefore, it is important to create an appropriate microenvironment, which will be the determining factor as to whether or not stem cells will survive and participate in regeneration and reparation of wounds.

Researchers are already planning the next trial to test the use of donor bone marrow stem cells on the chronic wounds of patients whose own stem cells are likely compromised.

To learn more about this research, contact head of Media Relations with the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine Omar Montejo at (305) 243-5654 or OMontejo@med.miami.edu.


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