Stem cell technology has been evolving how organ transplants are being administered and aiding in the improvement of quality of life for patients globally. With the progress of stem cell technology, laboratories may one day soon be able to grow organs, which can save lives all around the world. The use of stem cells eliminates patients’ need to use anti-rejection medications for protection against tissue rejection. Here, Yuben Moodley, a dedicated physician, and researcher, discusses stem cell research in further detail.
As many already know, the global supply of organs available for transplant is very small, much less than the demand. Thousands of people are on a waiting list daily to receive an organ, with approximately 17 people dying a day who never receive the organ they need. With people living longer than ever before, the need for organ transplants may continue to grow over the next few decades. Healthcare professionals around the world are looking to science to help uncover ways to improve organ function. While organ transplants as they stand today are often successful, there is always the risk that individuals’ bodies reject the new organs altogether. In some cases, they may need a transplant a second time or develop other illnesses due to the anti-rejection drugs.
Stem cell research aims to reduce the risk of both of these cases by developing a way to engineer tissue that can replace bodily tissue and organs that have been damaged by disease. A stem cell is a type of cell that holds self-renewing properties and can be unspecialized. Research shows that a stem cell can regenerate into specific cell types such as bone, cartilage, fat, connective tissue, muscle, skin, blood, retinal networks, and other types of human cells.
Studies are currently being conducted on mice to understand stem cells’ ability to repair diseased organs and potential transplantation. The research involves injecting stem cells into diseased and infected hearts and training the cells to repair them. While the majority of the study has been conducted on mice, there have been a few early trials and testing of the treatment in humans.
Another study is following the process of cloning new organs from stem cells to aid those on the list for a donor organ. Cloning is defined as reprogramming a cell by replacing that cell’s nucleus with one of another cell, so it is genetically equal to the original. The process is known as nuclear transfer, which brings hope to the medical community as long as it is executed properly. The hope is to instruct stem cells to build an organ in a laboratory, which would ultimately replace a diseased organ through surgery once mature.
While the solution is still years off from full implementation, the research scientists are promising that stem cells can change the future of organ transplantation and modern medicine as we know it.
About Yuben Moodley
Yuben Moodley is a dedicated physician, researcher, and Associate Professor of Respiratory Medicine. His research focuses on investigating mechanisms and finding novel cellular therapies for Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. He serves on the National Health and Medical Research Council panel, where he got funding for his research.