Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Celladon announces In-License of Stem Cell Factor Development Program

Celladon corporation logo
Celladon Corporation, a clinical-stage biotechnology company applying its leadership position in the field of gene therapy and calcium dysregulation today announced an exclusive, global license from Enterprise Partners Venture Capital for gene therapy applications of the membrane-bound form of the Stem Cell Factor gene (mSCF) for treatment of cardiac ischemia. Stem Cell Factor is a critical cytokine which contributes to cell migration, proliferation, and survival of cardiac stem cells.

Mesenchymal stem cells promote muscle repair and strengthening after resistance exercise

Professor Marni Boppart at University of Illinois
Professor Marni Boppart
New research in mice reveals that mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) help rejuvenate skeletal muscle after resistance exercise. By injecting MSCs into mouse leg muscles prior to several bouts of eccentric exercise (similar to the lengthening contractions performed during resistance training in humans that result in mild muscle damage), researchers were able to increase the rate of repair and enhance the growth and strength of those muscles in the exercising mice.

The findings, appearing in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, may one day lead to new interventions to combat age-related declines in muscle structure and function, said University of Illinois kinesiology and community healthprofessor Marni Boppart, who led the research.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Role of Astroglia in Down's Syndrome Revealed Thanks to iPSCs

David Pleasure, Chen Chen, Wenbin Deng and Peng Jiang
(left to right)
Researchers from UC Davis School of Medicine and Shriners Hospitals for Children -- Northern California have identified a group of cells in the brain that they say plays an important role in the abnormal neuron development in Down syndrome.

After developing a new model for studying the syndrome using patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells, the scientists also found that applying an inexpensive antibiotic to the cells appears to correct many abnormalities in the interaction between the cells and developing neurons.

The findings, which focused on support cells in the brain called astroglial cells, appeared in Nature Communications.

"We have developed a human cellular model for studying brain development in Down syndrome that allows us to carry out detailed physiological studies and screen possible new therapies. This model is more realistic than traditional animal models because it is derived from a patient's own cells." said Wenbin Deng, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular medicine and principal investigator of the study.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Scientists discover gene that links stem cells, aging and cancer

Stem cells from adult mouse epidermis
(green, Cytokeratin 6; blue, cell nucleus);
Sox4 protein maintains tissue homeostasis in these cells.
An organism is healthy thanks to a good maintenance system: the normal functioning of organs and environmental exposure cause damage to tissues, which need to be continuously repaired.

This process is not yet well understood, but it is known that stem cells in the organs play a key role, and that when repair fails, the organism ages more quickly. Researchers from the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) have "discovered one of the key genes that make up the maintenance mechanism for tissues", said Miguel Foronda, the first author of the study.

The study is published this week in the journal Cell Reports. The authors believe that it adds another piece to the ageing, stem cells and cancer puzzle, made up of three main elements that are known to be related, but no one knows exactly how.

By understanding this relationship throughout identification key regulatory genes, we could have a different, perhaps more unified, vision of these three areas with enormous implications for health.

Discovery May Make It Easier to Develop Life-Saving Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells

Human oocyte
Human oocyte
Not unlike looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack, a team of Michigan State University researchers have found a gene that could be key to the development of induced pluripotent stem cells, cells that can potentially save millions of lives by morphing into practically any cell in the body.

The gene, known as ASF1A, was not discovered by the team. However, it is at least one of the genes responsible for the mechanism of cellular reprogramming, a phenomenon that can turn one cell type into another, which is key to the making of stem cells.

In a paper published in the journal Science, the researchers describe how they analyzed more than 5,000 genes from a human egg, or oocyte, before determining that the ASF1A, along with another gene known as OCT4 and a helper soluble molecule, were the ones responsible for the reprogramming.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Wisconsin researchers report new genetic recipe to turn stem cells to blood

Igor Slukvin
A group led by University of Wisconsin-Madison stem cell researcher Igor Slukvin reported yesterday the discovery of two genetic programs responsible for taking blank-slate stem cells and turning them into both red and the array of white cells that make up human blood.

The research is important because it identifies how nature itself makes blood products at the earliest stages of development. The discovery gives scientists the tools to make the cells themselves, investigate how blood cells develop and produce clinically relevant blood products.

"This is the first demonstration of the production of different kinds of cells from human pluripotent stem cells using transcription factors." explained Slukvin, referencing the proteins that bind to DNA and control the flow of genetic information, which ultimately determines the developmental fate of undifferentiated stem cells.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Lung Institute Case Reveals Stem Cell Therapy Is Effective for Lung Disease

al corter  stem cells for lung disease
The Lung Institute works to help people who have received a diagnosis of debilitating lung disease get their quality of life back. The latest case study demonstrates how stem cell therapy can be used effectively to treat interstitial lung disease.

After his recent stem cell treatment at the Lung Institute, Al Corter can now complete his daily tasks on his horse farm much faster, and finally attend the Silver Spur Riding Club Open Horse Show the weekend of July 12th in Fonda, NY.

Twelve years ago, Al was exposed to toxic fumes in the workplace and subsequently diagnosed with interstitial lung disease and bronchiectasis, a form of chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD). Living in upstate New York and running his horse farm, Al’s serious pulmonary conditions had a major effect on his life. Shortness of breath, coughing, reliance on supplemental oxygen and fatigue were taking a toll. Al needed a new solution.

Induced pluripotent stem cells in the treatment of retinitis pigmentosa

Researchers at the Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) have have created a way to develop personalized gene therapies for patients with retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a leading cause of vision loss. The approach, the first of its kind, takes advantage of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) cell technology to transform skin cells into retinal cells, which are then used as a patient-specific model for disease study and preclinical testing.

Using this approach, researchers led by Stephen H. Tsang, MD, PhD, showed that a form of RP caused by mutations to the gene MFRP (membrane frizzled-related protein) disrupts the protein that gives retinal cells their structural integrity. They also showed that the effects of these mutations can be reversed with gene therapy. The approach could potentially be used to create personalized therapies for other forms of RP, as well as other genetic diseases. The paper was published recently in the online edition of Molecular Therapy, the official journal of the American Society for Gene & Cell Therapy.

No extra mutations in modified stem cells, study reports

The ability to switch out one gene for another in a line of living stem cells has only crossed from science fiction to reality within this decade. As with any new technology, it brings with it both promise--the hope of fixing disease-causing genes in humans, for example--as well as questions and safety concerns. Now, Salk scientists have put one of those concerns to rest: using gene-editing techniques on induced pluripotent stem cells doesn't increase the overall occurrence of mutations in the cells. The new findings appear in the journal Cell Stem Cell.

"The ability to precisely modify the DNA of stem cells has greatly accelerated research on human diseases and cell therapy. To successfully translate this technology into the clinic, we first need to scrutinize the safety of these modified stem cells, such as their genome stability and mutational load." said senior author Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, professor in Salk's Gene Expression Laboratory.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Woman grows nose tissue in spine after stem cell treatment

A spinal mass was identified in a young woman with complete spinal cord injury 8 years after she had undergone implantation of olfactory mucosal cells in the hopes of regaining sensory and motor function.

The case was presented yesterday, in the Journal of Neurosurgery. The authors say that this is the first report of a spinal cord mass arising from spinal cord cell transplantation and neural stem cell therapy, and they caution that physicians should be vigilant in their follow-up of patients who undergo stem cell interventions.

In its natural state, the olfactory mucosa lines the roof of the nasal cavity, adjacent to the respiratory mucosa that lines the lower nasal cavity. In addition to smell receptor neurons, the olfactory mucosa contains progenitor cells (also known as adult stem cells) and olfactory ensheathing cells -- both of which have been shown to aid in the repair of the injured spinal cord in laboratory studies and in humans. The respiratory mucosa, on the other hand contains mucus-secreting goblet cells and mucus and serous fluid¬-producing cells.

International Stem Cell Corporation Signs Agreement With Rohto Pharmaceutical

International Stem Cell Corporation (ISCO), a California-based biotechnology company developing novel stem cell-based therapies, announced today that it has reached a research agreement with Rohto Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. ("Rohto"), a global Japanese pharmaceutical company that develops new technology for the medical and cosmetics markets with approximately $1.3 billion in consolidated annual sales.

Under the agreement, Rohto will evaluate stem cell-derived human cells owned and provided by ISCO in a number of pre-clinical animal models. If the research is successful and the parties agree on remaining terms, it is anticipated that a definitive license agreement will be signed at the end of the twelve-month period of this research agreement. Certain key terms of such a license agreement, including the target disease areas and intellectual property rights, have been established in the research agreement.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Researchers discover important piece in the brain tumour puzzle

Researchers at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital, McGill University and McGill University Health Centre have shown that a member of the protein family known as SUMO (small ubiquitin-like modifier) is a key to why tumour cells multiply uncontrollably, especially in the case of glioblastoma. The SUMO family proteins modify other proteins and the SUMOylation of proteins are critical for many cellular processes. Identifying SUMO's role in the cancer cell growth will lead to a new strategy for glioblastoma treatment.

Glioblastoma is the most common and lethal brain cancer. Current standard treatments include surgical resection, adjuvant chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Despite the treatments, patients survive about a year and half. The cancer continues growing in part due to the presence of the cancer stem cells. It is critical to understand cancer growing pathways in the stem cells for development of stem cells targeted therapies.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Teeth Stem Cells Help Regenerate Retinal Ganglion Cells after Injury

Dr. Ben Scheven stem cell researcher at the University of Birmingham
Dr. Ben Scheven
Researchers at the University of Birmingham, UK, led by Dr. Ben Scheven, Dr. Wendy Leadbeater and Ben Mead announced today that adult stem cells isolated from the teeth , can protect retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) from death following injury and even promote regeneration of their axons along the optic nerve.

RGC loss is the leading cause of blindness and can arise through traumatic injury or degenerative diseases such as glaucoma. Neurotrophic factors (NTFs), which travel along the axon of a neuron to a cell body act as survival signals however, following injury or disease, this supply is lost and RGCs die. Supplementation of injured RGC with an alternative source of NTFs is paramount to protecting them from death.

The study, appearing on Neural Regeneration Research (Vol. 9, No. 6, 2014), confirmed that DPSCs naturally express multiple NTFs which can supplement the lost supply of NTF and protect RGCs from death as well as promote regeneration of their axons.