The diet industry makes billions of dollars a year feeding off people’s insecurities with scientifically dubious medications and nutritional regimes. Even methods that are successful in causing weight loss are ultimately proven futile because the subject reverts back to old habits and regains the weight.
However, a number of stem cell research studies in animals over the years have found that mesenchymal stem cells (or MSCs) have the capacity to fight obesity with regenerative medicine, because in a way, they’re part of the problem. MSCs develop into adipocyte, which are the fat cells that make up the adipose tissue that stores energy in the form of fat.
By looking into mesenchymal stem cells’ role in adipocyte generation, many scientists believe non-invasive stem cell treatments and stem cell therapy to treat obesity could be developed.
THE MESSAGE OF MESENCHYMAL STEM CELLS
Researchers at Beirut Arab University and Italy’s Villa Garda Hospital have completed a comprehensive systemic review of these various stem cell research studies in animals and their results to see if we’re at a point where human trials using MSCs for weight-loss are viable.
“Despite the progress that has been made over the past decade in the development of MSC- based products for the treatment of different diseases in humans, such as degenerative arthritis, post-acute myocardial infarction, and Graft versus Host Disease in clinical settings, surprisingly no human studies have been conducted on the use of MSCs in obesity,” said the team’s lead researcher, Dr. Marwan El Ghoch, in a press release.
Dr. El Ghoch and his team looked at 578 academic articles about mesenchymal stem cells research in weight-loss, but only seven fit their criteria for study. However, of those seven studies, each showed MSCs had a huge impact in reducing body weight, inflammation and glucose metabolism homeostasis in animal subjects.
“Our systematic review is clearly evidence that the beneficial effects of AD-MSCs transplantation on obesity and related diseases are well documented in animal models,” he said.
ADIPOCYTE, OUT OF SIGHT?
However, the team concluded that while there is promising evidence that MSCs can contribute to stem cell treatments and stem cell therapy for obesity, there are still too many known and unknown unknowns to proceed to human testing.
“These finding should be interpreted with caution before jumping to conclusions. First of all, studies in animals do not predict with sufficient certainty what will happen in humans. In fact, around 30 % of animal studies progress to the level of human randomized trials, and only 10 % of the interventions are subsequently approved for use in patients,” he said.
“Second, we should keep in mind that obesity is multi-factor disease that involves in its maintenance not only biological factors but also cognitive, behavioural and environmental factors. Last but not least, it is noteworthy to mention that in the absence of human studies on our topic, we were unable to ascertain the clinical utility and safety of AD-MSCs for patients with obesity.”
While we’re not at the finish line yet when it comes to mesenchymal stem cells and weight-loss, we aren’t at the starting line either. More studies in animals are needed, but considering previous results, we’re sure it’s only a matter of time before we see stem cell treatments for obesity.
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