Stem Cell Breakthrough Targets Root Causes of PCOS, Leading to the Discovery of a New Treatment

Stem Cell Breakthrough Targets Root Causes of PCOS


A new treatment for a pervasive endocrine disorder PCOs is alleged to be found by some researchers at the University of Chicago. PCOS can cause hormonal imbalances, fertility issues, and other health problems. The existing treatments for PCOS primarily address its symptoms and do not assist infertility . However, researchers at the University of Chicago have discovered an approach that may treat the underlying causes of Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).


The results of the research are looking promising since the approach used by the researchers includes the use of mesenchymal stem cell-derived extracellular vesicles (EVs), also known as exosomes: tiny, free-floating packages of molecules released by stem cells.


"Current PCOS treatments merely address the symptoms, and the most common treatments -- oral contraceptives -- do not address patients' struggles with infertility," said Hang-Soo Park, Ph.D., a staff scientist at the University of Chicago and the study's first author. "Our approach represents a paradigm shift from symptom management to treating the underlying causes. We hope this will prove more effective in the long term and allow patients to have children if they wish to do so."


Previously, a bunch of discoveries were published by the same group of researchers claiming that mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) adult cells that can differentiate into multiple cell types for healing and regeneration can secrete factors potentially helpful in reversing the symptoms of PCOS, but the factors were not discovered. This latest study has identified the EVs released as the therapeutic components. These EVs were found effective in reducing genetic activities responsible for PCOS symptoms. When the researchers injected these EVs into mice with PCOS, it substantially improved their health and even restored their ovarian function, which is primarily affected by PCOS.


"Our study demonstrates the resilience of the ovaries under EV treatment, offering renewed hope for women battling PCOS-related fertility issues," said Park.


The researchers believe that an immune protein called IL-10, known for its anti-inflammatory properties, plays a role in this healing process. In simple terms, this research offers hope for better treatments for PCOS, addressing its root causes and helping women who want to have children.


EV-based therapy has exhibited substantial benefits when it comes to conventional treatment methods. EVs are comparatively affordable, safe which is accountable for their widespread application as well.


A better safety profile, with minimal concerns about tumorigenesis or immunogenicity, is a feature of the application of EVS. There have also been other clinical trials where the application of EV therapy for reproductive disorders has been approved already, exhibiting the high potential of the actual benefits of this latest research in the real world.


Park, the first author of the study, mentioned some companies already manufacturing EVs as a commercial treatment for PCOS backed by the clinical trials. He also mentioned the slight struggle in designing this treatment but assured the safe and effective production, once designed is taken care of. Along with principal investigator Ayman Al-Hendy, MD, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Chicago Medicine, and other researchers, Park is now applying for grants so they can find funding for the human clinical studies of this EV treatment.


Along the same line, this same group of researchers is also conducting additional bench research, which is aimed towards the development of enhanced EVs with the ability to precisely target ovarian tissue and even has the potential of reversing damage more effectively.


"The key takeaway for PCOS patients right now is that researchers are working hard to understand the pathways involved," said Park. "As we understand more and more, the treatments will become even safer and more effective."


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