Cellular Therapies in Trauma and Critical Care Medicine: Forging New Frontiers

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Abstract

Trauma is a leading cause of death in both military and civilian populations worldwide. Although medical advances have improved the overall morbidity and mortality often associated with trauma, additional research and innovative advancements in therapeutic interventions are needed to optimize patient outcomes. Cell-based therapies present a novel opportunity to improve trauma and critical care at both the acute and chronic phases that often follow injury. Although this field is still in its infancy, animal and human studies suggest that stem cells may hold great promise for the treatment of brain and spinal cord injuries, organ injuries, and extremity injuries such as those caused by orthopedic trauma, burns, and critical limb ischemia. However, barriers in the translation of cell therapies that include regulatory obstacles, challenges in manufacturing and clinical trial design, and a lack of funding are critical areas in need of development. In 2015, the Department of Defense Combat Casualty Care Research Program held a joint military–civilian meeting as part of its effort to inform the research community about this field and allow for effective planning and programmatic decisions regarding research and development. The objective of this article is to provide a “state of the science” review regarding cellular therapies in trauma and critical care, and to provide a foundation from which the potential of this emerging field can be harnessed to mitigate outcomes in critically ill trauma patients.

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