Iran using stem cells to reduce amputations

(Stem Cells News image)

Mohammad Reza Zafarghandi

Mohammad Reza Zafarghandi

Following the success of Iranian scientists in using stem cells to treat vascular occlusion and critical limb ischemia in the lower extremities, Press TV has conducted an interview with research team leader Mohammad Reza Zafarghandi.

Dr. Zafarghandi is a professor of vascular surgery in Tehran University of medical Sciences and the head of the vascular surgery and trauma department of Sina Hospital.

Press TV: According to news reports, you have successfully treated 12 patients suffering from vascular occlusion using stem cells. Could you tell us more about it?

Zafarghandi: Critical limb ischemia (CLI) results from severe occlusive disease that impairs distal limb perfusion to the point where oxygen delivery is no longer adequate to meet the metabolic needs of the tissue, even under resting conditions.

In order to treat CLI sufferers, several medications are prescribed to reduce the progression of the disease, its risk factors, and the associating pain. The patient is also urged to stop smoking. The definite treatment, however, is made through inserting a stent in the affected site or performing a bypass graft in the more serious cases.

These treatments depend on the severity of the disease; in cases with total occlusion of the terminal arteries, however, none of the abovementioned methods are effective.

In this method, we stimulated the formation of true new blood vessels (angiogenesis) and the development of collateral vessels from preexisting blood vessels (arteriogenesis), themost important processes in the pathophysiology of vascular disease, aiming to provide an alternative treatment strategy for patients with lower limb ischemia.

Previous studies had reported the role of bone-marrow mononuclear cells (BM-MNC) in increasing collateral vessel formation in both ischemic limb models and patients with limb ischemia.

Considering the fact that the proliferation and migration of progenitor endothelial cells (EPC) located in bone marrow and peripheral blood are responsible for neovascularization occurring in response to tissue injury and remodeling, we used mononuclear cells extracted from the patient’s bone marrow to induce neovascularization.

Our findings revealed promising results in 12 out of 15 patients awaiting leg amputation due to CLI secondary to buerger’s disease and diabetic foot. None of these 12 cases needed amputation after they were treated with our innovative method.

Press TV: Does this method prevent from amputation in every patient suffering from critical limb ischemia regardless of the underlying cause?

Zafarghandi: The patients suffering from peripheral artery diseases (PAD) such as buerger’s disease and diabetic foot, in whom different attempts to revascularize the affected site have failed, seem to be the best candidates for this method.

Further studies, however, are required to identify the patients who benefit from this method as the present research is still in its primary stages.

Press TV: How do you see the future advancements in this field?

Zafarghandi: This method can help save the lower extremities in PAD patients, accounting for 15% of all adults older than 55 years. More over, it lowers the heavy burden caring for disabled patients imposes on their families and the society.

from Press TV

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