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Thyroid Regenerative Therapy: What You Need to Know


As research increases in regenerative medicine with the potential of being able to regrow thyroid tissue, could regeneration therapy eliminate the need for patients to take thyroid replacement hormones?

Thyroid Regenerative Therapy: What You Need to Know

Thyroid Regenerative Therapy

A great hope for regenerative therapy is the ability to grow healthy organs. One of the organs being looked at is the thyroid gland. The goal is to re-grow thyroid tissue in:

  • Individuals who had to have the gland removed because of thyroid cancer.
  • Individuals who were born without a fully developed gland.

As science advances and research has expanded from laboratory and animal experiments to test tube human thyroid cell studies, the use of stem cell therapy for this purpose is not there yet, as more extensive research is needed for human consideration.

Human Research

Research on the use of thyroid regenerative therapy for thyroid disease has not published studies in which stem cell therapy has been attempted in human thyroid patients.

  • The studies that have been done were conducted in mice, and any findings of this research cannot automatically be applied to humans. (H. P. Gaide Chevronnay, et al., 2016)
  • In human thyroid tissue in test tube studies, the stimulation of cells was achieved in a way that raised the question of making cancerous transformations more likely if it were to be attempted in humans. (Davies T.F., et al., 2011)

Recent Studies

  • Current research involves advances in embryonic stem cell – ESC and induced pluripotent stem cell – iPSC. (Will Sewell, Reigh-Yi Lin. 2014)
  • ESCs, also known as pluripotent stem cells, can increase any type of cell in the body.
  • They are harvested from embryos that were produced, but not implanted, during IVF procedures.
  • iPSCs are pluripotent cells that have been developed using a reprogramming process of adult cells.
  1. Follicular cells are thyroid cells that make thyroid hormones – T4 and T3 and have been produced from the embryonic stem cells of mice.
  2. In a study published in the journal Cell Stem Cell in 2015, these cells had the ability to grow and were also able to start making thyroid hormone within two weeks. (Anita A. Kurmann, et al., 2015)
  3. After eight weeks, cells that were transplanted into mice that did not have thyroid glands had normal amounts of thyroid hormone.

New Thyroid Gland

  • Investigators at Mount Sinai Hospital induced human embryonic stem cells into thyroid cells.
  • They were looking at the possibility of creating a new-like thyroid gland in individuals who have had their thyroid surgically removed.
  • They reported their results at the 84th annual American Thyroid Association meeting. (R. Michael Tuttle, Fredric E. Wondisford. 2014)

The future looks promising for the ability to regrow thyroid tissue and eliminate thyroid replacement hormone. However, far more research is needed for this to even be considered a possibility.

Cracking the Low Thyroid Code Assessment Guide


Gaide Chevronnay, H. P., Janssens, V., Van Der Smissen, P., Rocca, C. J., Liao, X. H., Refetoff, S., Pierreux, C. E., Cherqui, S., & Courtoy, P. J. (2016). Hematopoietic Stem Cells Transplantation Can Normalize Thyroid Function in a Cystinosis Mouse Model. Endocrinology, 157(4), 1363–1371. doi.org/10.1210/en.2015-1762

Davies, T. F., Latif, R., Minsky, N. C., & Ma, R. (2011). Clinical review: The emerging cell biology of thyroid stem cells. The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism, 96(9), 2692–2702. doi.org/10.1210/jc.2011-1047

Sewell, W., & Lin, R. Y. (2014). Generation of thyroid follicular cells from pluripotent stem cells: potential for regenerative medicine. Frontiers in endocrinology, 5, 96. doi.org/10.3389/fendo.2014.00096

Kurmann, A. A., Serra, M., Hawkins, F., Rankin, S. A., Mori, M., Astapova, I., Ullas, S., Lin, S., Bilodeau, M., Rossant, J., Jean, J. C., Ikonomou, L., Deterding, R. R., Shannon, J. M., Zorn, A. M., Hollenberg, A. N., & Kotton, D. N. (2015). Regeneration of Thyroid Function by Transplantation of Differentiated Pluripotent Stem Cells. Cell stem cell, 17(5), 527–542. doi.org/10.1016/j.stem.2015.09.004

Tuttle, R. M., & Wondisford, F. E. (2014). Welcome to the 84th annual meeting of the American Thyroid Association. Thyroid : official journal of the American Thyroid Association, 24(10), 1439–1440. doi.org/10.1089/thy.2014.0429

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