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    International research uncovers potential for stem cell therapies

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    Regulators are beginning to address stem cell therapies, which show promise for skin rejuvenation as well as many other clinical applications, as research into this burgeoning field continues to grow worldwide.

    And to standardize terminology, technologies and studies, says William H. Beeson, M.D., the International Society for Cellular Therapy recommends calling stem cells from any source "multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells" (Dominici M, Le Blanc K, Mueller I, et al. Cytotherapy. 2006;8(4):315-317). Dr. Beeson is a facial plastic surgeon based in Carmel, Ind., and assistant clinical professor, departments of dermatology and otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery at Indiana University.

    "To be classified as such, (stem cells) must exhibit plastic adherence in culture, express specific antigens and not others, and demonstrate multi-potential differentiation potential," he says. In the latter area, they must show the ability to differentiate into osteoblasts, adipocytes and chondroblasts in vitro.

    Embryonic stem cells are derived from the morula and are totipotent. "That means that they can differentiate into any tissue, including placental tissues. Blastocysts are pluripotent, meaning that they can differentiate into any tissue except placenta — including teratomas," Dr. Beeson says.


    Dr. Beeson
    Conversely, the stem cells that Dr. Beeson and his colleagues are attempting to develop for facial aesthetic applications are multipotent and derived mesodermally. "Adipose-derived stem cells (ASCs) can be processed from either liposuctioned or excised fat. Adipose tissue contains 100 to 1,000 times the number of pluripotent cells per cubic centimeter compared to bone marrow," Dr. Beeson says.

    ONGOING RESEARCH Recent studies have shown that ASCs have anti-aging effects. In one study, ASCs reversed damage to fibroblasts caused by UVB (Song SY, Jung JE, Jeon YR, et al. Cytotherapy. 2011;13(3):378-384. Epub 2010 Nov 9).

    "ASCs also reduced the number of apoptotic cells and shifted the cell cycles from necrosis to early apoptosis," Dr. Beeson. "This study concluded that ASCs mediated their anti-aging effects through a paracrine function on the fibroblasts, and can reverse the damage in photodamaged fibroblasts at both the cellular and genetic levels."

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    John Jesitus
    John Jesitus is a medical writer based in Westminster, CO.