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Stem Cell Therapy: A Valuable Approach to IC/BPS in the Future?

im A, Shin DM, Choo MS. Stem Cell Therapy for Interstitial Cystitis/Bladder Pain Syndrome. Curr Urol Rep. 2016 Jan;17(1):1. doi: 10.1007/s11934-015-0563-1.

In this review article, the authors argue that there is a strong need for research into applications of stem cell therapy as a novel treatment approach for interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome (IC/BPS), given that patients suffer from a poor quality of life, and that there are few available treatments for the condition. Moreover, treatment outcomes with some of the most common therapies (such as oral medications, hydrodistention, and bladder instillation therapies) are unsatisfactory for many patients. Meanwhile, stem cell therapy research is starting to expand into the field of urology, and there is hope that this type of treatment could reverse symptoms of IC/BPS. Some innovative approaches have been evaluated in animal models of IC/BPS and have shown promising therapeutic effects recently. For example, Korean researchers studying a rat model of IC/BPS found that stem cells had therapeutic effects, a finding that both advanced our understanding of how IC/BPS develops, and also provided a basis for considering human clinical trials of stem cell therapy in IC/BPS. Another study in rats showed that the combination of melatonin and stem cell therapy protected against IC/BPS better than either treatment alone. Despite these promising findings, some concerns about the safety of stem cells and the sources from which they are obtained should be addressed before investigators start testing the approaches in humans, the authors say.