Finding organ donors could soon be a thing of the past. The latest miracle of modern medicine allowed doctors to replace a man’s cancerous windpipe with a new man-made one, comprised of a synthetic structure that was coated in the patient’s own stem cells.
According to a statement by Karolinska University Hospital, “Transplantations of tissue engineered windpipes with synthetic scaffolds in combination with the patient's own stem cells as a standard procedure means that patients will not have to wait for a suitable donor organ," reports AFP.
This is a huge leap forward for stem cell research. For starters, the stem cells were taken from the patient’s nose and bone marrow, which is much less morally controversial than embryonic stem cells (from unborn babies).
Also, a previous trachea (throat) stem cell transplant conducted by many of the same doctors had required a donor trachea to provide the structure for the stem cells. The process has since been streamlined.
“A windpipe can be made in between two days and a week, and because it uses the patient's own cells, there's no risk of organ rejection,” according to The Daily Beast.
Organ rejection is a serious risk that often requires strong medication to weaken the immune system (the system in charge of killing unwanted organisms in the body). Eliminating organ rejection risk will also eliminate the many risks from impairing one’s immune system, making many transplants much safer.
Stem cell research has come a long way towards improving medicine. It is still a nascent field, however.
“Experts say synthetic structures could be used to fashion simple organs like the windpipe, esophagus or bladder, but that it will be years before scientists can create more complicated organs like kidneys or hearts in the laboratory,” reports ABC News.
Do you think this news is a confirmation of stem cell’s promising future? Interested in investing in stem cell companies? To help you with your own research, here is list of stocks with exposure to stem cell research.
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1. Celgene Corporation (CELG): Biotechnology industry with a market cap of $28.55B. It is primarily engaged in the discovery, development and commercialization of therapies designed to treat cancer and immune-inflammatory related diseases, such as immunomodulation and intracellular signaling pathways in hematology, oncology and immune-inflammatory diseases. It is researching stem cells derived from the human placenta, as well as from the umbilical cord.
2. Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (ALXN): Drug Manufacturers industry with a market cap of $8.91B. It is engaged in the discovery, development and commercialization of therapeutic products aimed at treating patients with severe and life-threatening disease states, including those in the therapeutic areas of hematology, nephrology (including transplant rejection), neurology, ophthalmology and cancer.
3. Dendreon Corp. (DNDN): Biotechnology industry with a market cap of $6.01B. It is focused on the discovery, development and commercialization of therapeutics that may improve cancer treatment options for patients. Its product portfolio includes active cellular immunotherapy and small molecule product candidates to treat a range of cancers.
4. PerkinElmer Inc. (PKI): Medical Instruments & Supplies industry with a market cap of $3.11B. It is a provider of technology, services and solutions to the diagnostics, research, environmental and safety, industrial and laboratory services markets. Its Human Health segment focuses on developing diagnostics, tools and applications to help detect diseases to accelerate the discovery and development of critical new therapies.
5. Ariad Pharmaceuticals Inc. (ARIA): Biotechnology industry with a market cap of $1.58B. It is focused on the discovery and development of drugs to provide therapeutic intervention in treating human diseases at the cellular level. Its lead cancer product candidate, ridaforolimus, is an internally discovered, potent inhibitor of the protein mTOR, which acts as a central regulator of protein synthesis, cell proliferation, cell cycle progression and cell survival. Blocking mTOR creates a starvation-like effect in cancer cells by interfering with cell growth, division, metabolism and angiogenesis.
6. Integra LifeSciences Holdings Corporation (IART): Medical Instruments & Supplies industry with a market cap of $1.36B. Its products include implants, instruments and equipment for orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery and general surgery. In the United States, it provides surgical instruments to hospitals, surgery centers and alternate care sites, including physician and dental offices.
7. Spectrum Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (SPPI): Biotechnology industry with a market cap of $521.44M. It is a commercial stage biopharmaceutical company, engaged in developing and commercializing therapies with a focus primarily in the areas of hematology-oncology and urology. It has a fully developed commercial infrastructure that markets and sells two drugs in the United States, Zevalin and Fusilev.
8. Geron Corporation (GERN): Biotechnology industry with a market cap of $515.96M. It is developing biopharmaceuticals for the treatment of cancer and chronic degenerative diseases. It is engaged in the discovery and development of therapeutic and diagnostic products for oncology and human embryonic stem cell therapies.
By Andrew Dominguez