What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
In a healthy brain, there are over 100 billion nerve cells connected to extensions. With the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, information transfer at the synapses (the connection between the nerve cells and extensions) starts to break down, and the number of synapses decreases significantly. This results in the following symptoms characteristic of Alzheimer’s:
- Memory loss
- Difficulty completing normal tasks
- Difficulty with interpretation of visual information
- Reduced judgment
- Inability to speak or write
- Change in mood
Every 70 seconds, someone in America develops Alzheimer’s disease. While the cause is still unknown, most experts agree that is isn’t caused by a single factor, but rather multiple factors. However, one common factor is advancing age. An estimated 5.3 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, with nearly 97% of those over the age of 65.
Can Stem Cells studies help Alzheimer’s Disease?
Today, new treatments and advances in research are giving new hope to people affected by this disease. The Alzheimer’s Stem Cell Clinical Studies are being studied for their efficacy in improving the complications in patients with Alzheimer’s, through the use of stem cells. These procedures may help patients who don’t respond to typical drug treatment.
Frequently Asked Stem Cell Studies for Alzheimer's Disease Questions
- What is Alzheimer's?
Alzheimer's is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks.
- What happens to brain cells suffering from Alzheimer's Disease?
In order to perform at it’s greatest potential, our brains require coordination. With each group of cells in control of a certain bodily function, they act like tiny factories, carrying out each task in a routine manner. In a patient with AD, this signal flow is interrupted by progressive damage. Scientists believe that Alzheimer’s Disease prevents parts of the dense-branching communication network from running smoothly. The damage ultimately spreads to other parts of the brain causing irreversible damage and leading to the various symptoms associated with AD.
- What are stem cells?
Two things define stem cells:
- They can "self renew" – this means they can multiply and produce greater numbers of themselves
- They can "differentiate" – this means they can develop and change into at least two different types of specialist cell that carry out a specific function
There are a number of different types of stem cell that can be collected (or ‘harvested’), from a variety of sources. They can all self renew. The difference between them is in what types of specialist cells they can become – how much they can ‘differentiate’.
- What are the different types of stem cells?
StemGenex offers stem cell therapy using Adult stem cells only. There are four known types of stem cells:
- Adult Stem Cells - derived from the adult human body
The use of adult stem cells in research and therapy is not as controversial as the use of embryonic stem cells, because the production of adult stem cells does not require the destruction of an embryo. Additionally, in instances where adult stem cells are obtained from the intended recipient, the risk of rejection is essentially non-existent. Consequently, more US government funding is being provided for adult stem cell research. This is why StemGenex offers stem cell studies using Adult stem cells only.
- Embryonic Stem Cells - derived from embryos
These cells require specific signals to differentiate to the desired cell type. If they are simply injected directly, they will differentiate into many different types of cells, resulting in a tumor derived from this abnormal pluripotent cell development (a teratoma). The directed differentiation of ES cells and avoidance of transplant rejection are just two of the hurdles that ES cell researchers still face. StemGenex does not use embryonic stem cells.
- Fetal Stem Cells - derived from aborted fetuses
Have developed further than embryonic stem cells and are a little more specialized – their options are slightly more limited. However, they can still produce most types of cell in the body. StemGenex does not use fetal stem cells.
- Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSCs) - from some parts of the human body
These stem cells are engineered from older, fully specialized cells – for example, skin cells, which are limited naturally to being only skin cells. Scientists encourage these limited cells to act like embryonic stem cells again, with the ability to become any type of human cell. This is a complex technique that has only recently been developed and is the subject of much ongoing research. StemGenex does not use induced pluripotent stem cells.
- Adult Stem Cells - derived from the adult human body
- What is a stem cell therapy?
Stem cell therapy is an intervention strategy that introduces new adult stem cells into damaged tissue in order to treat disease or injury. Many medical researchers believe that stem cell treatments have the potential to change the face of human disease and alleviate suffering. The ability of stem cells to self-renew and give rise to subsequent generations with variable degrees of differentiation capacities, offers significant potential for generation of tissues that can potentially replace diseases and damaged areas in the body, with minimal risk of rejection and side effects.
- How could stem cells help in Alzheimers?
Adipose-derived stem cells (ASCs), mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) isolated from adipose tissue, are well known for their pluripotency and their ability to differentiate into multiple tissue types and have immune modulatory properties similar to those of MSCs from other origins. Using adipose-derived adult stem cells from humans, researchers may be able to help patients regrow healthy brain tissue to address the complications associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Because of their biological properties, ASCs are being studied by StemGenex for cell therapy and neuroregeneration. StemGenex is also studying the effects of ASCs in their ability to assist in rebuilding lost nerve fibers. This could repair the damage caused in the progressive stages of Alzheimer’s that results in the accumulation of permanent disability.
It is also hoped that eventually stem cells might assist in rebuilding lost nerve fibers. This could repair the damage caused in the progressive stages of Alzheimer's that results in the accumulation of permanent disability. Scientists around the world agree that more research is much needed in this complicated and challenging area.
- How are stem cells administered for Alzheimer’s?
StemGenex is studying potential ways to directly target the conditions and complications themselves. These studies consist of multiple ways to deliver the highest amount of activated stem cells to the areas patients need them most. When stem cells are studied through StemGenex, as potential therapy for Alzheimer’s, there are multiple ways they can be administered::
- Intravenous – injected into the vein
- Direct Injections – injected directly into the site that needs repair. i.e., muscles and tendons
- Intranasal – administration to access a highly vascular pathway of the nose to encourage more stem cells to travel past the blood brain barrier.
- What is currently being done using mesenchymal stem cells for Alzheimers?
StemGenex is currently studying the effectiveness of Mesenchymal Stem Cell Therapy on patients with both early stages (1-4) and late stages (5-7) of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Early Stages(1-4) of Alzheimer's -
- Stage 1: No impairment (Normal Function)
- Stage 2: Very mild cognitive decline
- Stage 3: Mild cognitive decline
- Stage 4: Moderate cognitive decline
- Late Stages(5-7) of Alzheimer's -
- Stage 5: Moderately severe cognitive decline
- Stage 6: Severe cognitive decline
- Stage 7: Very severe cognitive decline
- Early Stages(1-4) of Alzheimer's -
- Should we be researching stem cells?
Yes. Scientists around the world believe there is enough evidence to suggest that stem cells hold real potential as a therapy for Alzheimer's Disease. This evidence comes from a multitude of early clinical studies. They believe that it is now time for a concerted effort in stem cell research and an international effort to support clinical studies of stem cells for Alzheimer's.
- Are stem cells an FDA approved therapy for Alzheimer's?
No. There are currently no FDA approved stem cell therapies for Alzheimer's. All stem cell therapies for Alzheimer's are currently ‘unproven’, ‘experimental’ therapies. This means that the FDA does not know whether stem cells are effective for people with Alzheimer's. The only way to determine the effectiveness of stem cell therapy is through the type of clinical studies and trials which are currently being conducted in the US.
- How effective might stem cells be?
One of the goals of StemGenex, through our stem cell studies, is to understand what a particular stem cell therapy might be able to achieve. For example, does it have the potential for slowing the disease's progression, replacing damaged cells and memories, or both? With this goal in mind, StemGenex continues to study these diseases and the full effect of stem cell therapy on each disease. Anecdotally, these results have been overwhelmingly positive but there is more that needs to be done to determine the exact effectiveness of these therapies.
- If I received a stem cell transplant, how long would it take to work?
After stem cells have been administered into someone’s body they have to make their way to the correct place (e.g. area of damage) and then have their desired effect. This process takes time and although it is difficult to predict exactly how long, it is likely that it will take several weeks or months on average to see the full desired effect.
- Could a stem cell therapy be repeated?
Yes, a stem cell therapy may be repeated. Current studies indicate the strong possibility of a cumulative effect from multiple stem cell therapies a patient received for their condition. Long-term studies will attempt to better understand this in detail.
- Could stem cell therapy be used at the same time as other therapies?
We don’t know yet. This will not be studied in early clinical trials, as this would make it very difficult to measure the true effects of the stem cell therapy. However, a combination therapy may be effective for Alzheimer's and is likely to be studied in the future.