Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Researchers report a "groovy" way to influence the specialisation of stem cells

The primary cilia were grown on
 micro-grooves 10 micrometres in size
It's a known fact that certain stem cells have the capacity to transform into any cell type within the body through the process of differentiation.

This ability may have applications in the development of new therapies for a range of medical treatments where scientists aim to replace or regenerate tissues that have become diseased or dysfunctional.

Now, in a new study published in the journal Scientific Reports, researchers at Queen Mary University of London describe that they have found that growing adult mesenchymal stem cells on micro-grooved surfaces disrupts the biochemical pathway that determines the length of the primary cilia.

This change in length of the structure ultimately controls the subsequent behaviour of the stem cells.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Florida Hospital Pepin Heart Institute commences stem cell trial for patients with heart failure

Florida Hospital Pepin Heart Institute and Dr. Kiran C. Patel Research Institute announced yesterday that the first patient, a 59 year old Clearwater man, has been treated as part of the ATHENA clinical trial.

The clinical trial - sponsored by San Diego-based Cytori Therapeutics - uses stem cells from the patient’s own fat tissue and injects extracted cells into damaged parts of the heart.

The ATHENA trial is a treatment for patients withh chronic heart failure due to coronary heart disease. Dr. Charles Lambert, Medical Director of Florida Hospital Pepin Heart Institute, is leading the way for the first U.S. FDA approved clinical trial using adipose-derived regenerative cells, known as ADRCs, in chronic heart failure patients. 

“I am pleased to report that all procedures went well. The patient is doing well, he was released and is recovering at home. We look forward to following his progress over the coming months,” said Dr. Charles Lambert.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Mayo Clinic researcher sends human stem cells to space

Abba C. Zubair
Abba Zubair, M.D., Ph.D., believes that cells grown in the International Space Station (ISS) could help patients recover from a stroke, and that one day it may be possible to generate human tissues and organs in space. He just needs a chance to demonstrate the possibility, which he now has.

The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), a nonprofit organization promoting research aboard the ISS, has awarded Dr. Zubair a $300,000 grant to send human stem cells into space to see if they grow more rapidly than stem cells grown on Earth.

Dr. Zubair, medical and scientific director of the Cell Therapy Laboratory at Mayo Clinic in Florida, said the experiment will be the first one Mayo Clinic has conducted in space and the first to use these human stem cells, which are found in bone marrow.

Researchers develop kidney tubular cells from pluripotent stem cells

Researchers have discovered a cocktail of chemicals which, when added to pluripotent stem cells in a precise order, turns on genes found in kidney cells in the same order that they turn on during embryonic kidney development. The kidney cells continued to behave like kidney cells when transplanted into adult or embryonic mouse kidneys.

The scientists successfully coaxed these stem cells to become kidney tubular cells, a significant advance toward one day using regenerative medicine, rather than dialysis and transplantation, to treat kidney failure. The findings are published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN).

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Stem cells in the treatment of baldness

 Krzysztof Kobielak, MD, PhD,
and postdoctoral fellow Eve Kandyba
Regenerative medicine may offer new methods to banish baldness that don't involve toupees. The lab of USC scientist Krzysztof Kobielak, MD, PhD has published three papers that describe some of the factors that determine when hair grows, stops growing and falls out.

Authored by Kobielak, postdoctoral fellow Eve Kandyba, PhD, and their colleagues, the three studies focus on stem cells located in hair follicles (hfSCs), which can regenerate hair follicles as well as skin. These hfSCs are governed by the signaling pathways BMP and Wnt -- which are groups of molecules that work together to control cell functions, including the cycles of hair growth.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

ISCO Liver program receives award

International Stem Cell Corporation (ISCO), a California-based biotechnology company developing stem cell based therapies, announced today that it was awarded the Presidential Poster of Distinction by the American Association for the Study of Liver Disease (AASLD) at the 64th Annual Liver Meeting in Washington, D.C.

California Stem Cell announces completion of Phase I cancer stem cell clinicaltrial for Hepatocellular Carcinoma

California Stem Cell, Inc. (CSC) announced today the successful completion of a Phase I clinical trial investigating the safety of a cancer stem cell-based therapy in patients with Stage IV hepatocellular carcinoma, a common form of advanced liver cancer. The trial, conducted in Shanghai, China in accordance with international standards, marks the second cancer type the Company has explored with its platform approach, the first being a Phase III treatment for melanoma in the United States.

Researchers announce new more efficient mechanism for reprogramming iPSCs

Colonies of iPCSs obtained four days after reprogramming
with Yamanaka factors,  after having expressed
 C/EBPα in B lymphocytes for 18 hours.
A team of researchers at the Centre for Genomic Regulation in Barcelona recently announced the discovery of  a faster and more efficient method for reprogramming induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs).

The discovery, published online in the journal Nature, decreases the time needed for cell reprogramming from a couple of weeks to just a few days, revealing new information on the reprogramming process for iPSCs and their potential medical applications.

Last year, Dr. Shinya Yamanaka, together with Dr. John Gurdon, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for discovering it was possible to transform tissue cells into induced pluripotent stem cells.

Stem Cell Therapy in traumatic spinal cord injury


A systematic survey of the published medical literature reveals that stem cell therapy can have a statistically significant impact on animal models of spinal cord injury, and points the way for future studies.


Spinal cord injuries are mostly caused by trauma, often incurred in road traffic or sporting incidents, often with devastating and irreversible consequences, and unfortunately having a relatively high prevalence (250,000 patients in the USA; 80% of cases are male). 

High-profile campaigners like the late actor Christopher Reeve, himself a victim of sports-related spinal cord injury, have placed high hopes in stem cell transplantation. But how likely is it to work?

This question is addressed in a paper published 17th December in the open access journal PLOS Biology by Ana Antonic, David Howells and colleagues from the Florey Institute and the University of Melbourne, Australia, and Malcolm MacLeod and colleagues from the University of Edinburgh, UK.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Researchers discover control mechanism triggering the development of myelodysplastic syndromes

Sheng Wei, MD
Credit
Researchers at the Moffitt Cancer Center announced today that they have discovered a control mechanism that can trigger the development of myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS),   a diverse collection of hematological (blood-related) cancers that involve ineffective production (or dysplasia) of the myeloid class of blood cells. The findings may lead to therapies capable of preventing the progression of these diseases.

MDS primarily affects older individuals, with approximately 12,000 new cases diagnosed each year. In MDS, a person’s blood is not able to make one or more types of healthy blood cells — red blood cells, white blood cells or platelets. Instead, the patient has a high number of immature stem cells that do not develop properly. This can lead to anemia and a higher risk of infection and bleeding. MDS patients also have a higher risk of developing leukemia. Unfortunately, there is no effective therapy for MDS and scientists do not have a clear answer on how MDS develops.

Mayo Clinic researchers and collaborators develop new stem cell delivery tool

Mayo Clinic researchers and colleagues in Belgium have developed a specialized catheter for transplanting stem cells into the beating heart.

The novel device includes a curved needle and graded openings along the needle shaft, allowing for increased distribution of cells.
The result is maximized retention of stem cells to repair the heart.
"Although biotherapies are increasingly more sophisticated, the tools for delivering regenerative therapies demonstrate a limited capacity in achieving high cell retention in the heart. Retention of cells is, of course, crucial to an effective, practical therapy." said Atta Behfar, M.D., Ph.D., a Mayo Clinic cardiology specialist and leading author of the study. 

Monday, 16 December 2013

Researchers grow kidney using human embryonic stem cells

Mini-kidney in dish.
University of Queensland researchers have made a major leap forward in treating renal disease, today announcing they have grown a kidney using human embryonic stem cells.

The breakthrough paves the way for improved treatments for patients with kidney disease and bodes well for the future of the wider field of bioengineering organs.

Professor Melissa Little from UQ’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB), who led the study, said new treatments for kidney disease were urgently needed.

Treating Osteogenesis Imperfecta with mesenchymal stem cells

Cecilia Götherström
Credit: Jacob Sjöman
Osteogenesis imperfecta (sometimes known as brittle bone disease, or "Lobstein syndrome") is a congenital bone disorder characterized by brittle bones that are prone to fracture.

Ultrasound scans can reveal fractures already in the fetus, and now an international team of researchers from Sweden, Singapore and Taiwan have managed to treat two babies in utero by injecting them with bone-forming stem cells.

The babies were treated with mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), connective tissue cells that can form and improve bone tissue. The stem cells were extracted from the livers of donors and although they were completely unmatched genetically, there was no rejection and the transplanted cells were accepted as self.

Friday, 13 December 2013

UCLA researchers track joint cartilage development in humans

Dr. Denis Evseenko
Source
Stem cell researchers from UCLA have published the first study to identify the origin cells and track the early development of human articular cartilage, providing what could be a new cell source and biological roadmap for therapies to repair cartilage defects and damage from osteoarthritis.

Such transformative therapies could reach clinical trials within the next three years, said the scientists from UCLA's Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research.

The study, led by Dr. Denis Evseenko, an assistant professor of orthopedic surgery and head of UCLA's Laboratory of Connective Tissue Regeneration, was published online Dec. 12 in the journal Stem Cell Reports and will appear in a forthcoming print edition.

MacroGenics announces publication of cancer stem cell research in Lung Cancer

MacroGenics a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on discovering and developingmonoclonal antibody-based therapeutics for the treatment of cancer and autoimmune diseases, announced yesterday the online publication of data on the isolation of cancer stem-like cells (CSLCs) from human adenosquamous carcinoma (ASC) of the lung in the journal PLOS ONE.

This research contributes to the expanding repertoire of model CSLC lines identified and characterized by MacroGenics and increases the number of important models from which MacroGenics can generate antibody-based drug candidates.

New stem cell trial for children with cerebral palsy

Charles S. Cox
Scientists at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) Medical School recently begun a new clinical trial studying two forms of stem cell treatments for children with cerebral palsy (CP).

The double-blinded, placebo-controlled study's purpose includes comparing the safety and effectiveness of banked cord blood to bone marrow stem cells. 

The trial is led by Charles S. Cox, Jr., M.D., the Children's Fund, Inc. Distinguished Professor of Pediatric Surgery at the UTHealth Medical School and director of the Pediatric Trauma Program at Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital. Co-principal investigator is Sean I. Savitz, M.D., professor and the Frank M. Yatsu, M.D., Chair in Neurology in the UTHealth Department of Neurology.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Researchers receive $600,000 grant for Alzheimer’s stem cell research

Researchers at UC Irvine’s Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders have received a two-year, $600,000 grant from the National Institute on Aging to develop and study patient-derived stem cell lines.

Led by Frank LaFerla and Mathew Blurton-Jones, the UCI MIND team will create as many as 40 sets of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) to explore the underlying biology of Alzheimer’s disease and test novel therapeutic approaches.

Few discoveries have as much potential to transform modern medical research as iPS cells. They’re capable of giving rise to every cell type in the human body, including the key cell types implicated in Alzheimer’s disease: neurons, astrocytes and microglia.

A step closer to muscle cell therapy

Cell under the microscope
Credit: iStock
Muscle cell therapy to treat some degenerative diseases, including Muscular Dystrophy, is now a step closer, according to a new study by researchers from the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute (ARMI) at the Monash University.

PhD Student Bianca Borchin and Associate Professor Tiziano Barberi have developed a method to generate skeletal muscle cells, paving the way for future applications in regenerative medicine.

Scientists, for the first time, have found a way to isolate muscle precursor cells from pluripotent stem cells using a purification technique that allows them to differentiate further into muscle cells, providing a platform to test new drugs on human tissue in the lab. Pluripotent stem cells have the ability to become any cell in the human body including, skin, blood, brain matter and skeletal muscles that control movement.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Growing stem cells from umbilical cord blood donations increases survival ratio of leukemia and lymphoma patients

Patrick Stiff
Credit
A new study lead by an oncologist at Loyola University Medical Center has found that growing cord blood stem cells in a laboratory before transplanting them into patients significantly improves survival.

The cell-expansion technology potentially could boost the number of patients who could benefit from life-saving transplants of stem cells derived from umbilical cord blood, said Patrick Stiff, MD, lead author of the study. Stiff, director of Loyola's Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, presented findings at the 2013 annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology.

The ASH meeting is the preeminent annual event for physicians and scientists in hematology. Data from more than 5,300 abstracts were presented, and Stiff's abstract was selected as one of the 2013 meeting's top submissions.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Bortezomib improves survival ratio in patients receiving mismatched stem cell transplants

John Koreth (left) and Edwin P. Alyea (right)
Adding bortezomib (marketed as Velcade) to standard preventive therapy for graft-versus-host-disease (GVHD) results in improved outcomes for patients receiving stem-cell transplants from mismatched and unrelated donors, according to a new study by researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

In a new phase 2 trial, patients treated with bortezomib had lower rates of severe acute GVHD and treatment-related mortality. The patients experienced better one-year overall survival compared to patients receiving standard preventive therapy, reported the investigators at the American Society of Hematology annual meeting.

NYSCF announces collaboration with PersonalGenomes to understand human diseases using iPSCs technology

Today, the New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF) Research Institute and PersonalGenomes.org announced a partnership to identify genetic and environmental contributions to trait and disease development.

Cell lines generated by NYSCF will complement genomic data and medical histories contributed by participants in the Harvard Personal Genome Project (PGP), creating a unique and powerful resource to help researchers identify causes of disease.

ISCO announces major advance in iPSCs Technology

International Stem Cell Corporation (ISCO) issued a press release today announcing a significant advancement in human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) derivation with novel protein-based reprogramming method.

ISCO's biologists have developed a fundamentally new method that both successfully enhances the efficiency of the reprogramming process using specific proteins called transducible transcription factors (TTF) and avoids the use of viruses. 

Saturday, 7 December 2013

International Space Station now accessible for stem cell research

NASA and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS)  enabling research aboard the International Space Station that could lead to new stem cell-based therapies for medical conditions faced on Earth and in space.

This will allow researchers to take advantage of the space station's microgravity environment to study the properties of non-embryonic stem cells.

NASA is interested in space-based cell research because it is seeking ways to combat the negative health effects astronauts face in microgravity, including bone loss and muscle atrophy. 

Mitigation techniques are necessary to allow humans to push the boundaries of space exploration far into the solar system. This knowledge could help people on Earth, particularly the elderly, who are afflicted with similar conditions.

Predicting the efficacy of Alzheimer drugs with induced pluripotent stem cells

Neural stem cells generated from iPS cells derived
from a patient with Alzheimer’s disease.
Why do certain Alzheimer medications work in animal models but not in clinical trials in humans?

A research team from the University of Bonn and the biomedical enterprise LIFE & BRAIN GmbH has been able to show that results of established test methods with animal models and cell lines used up until now can hardly be translated to the processes in the human brain.

Drug testing should therefore be conducted with human nerve cells, conclude the scientists.

In the brains of Alzheimer patients, deposits form that consist essentially of beta-amyloid and are harmful to nerve cells. Scientists are therefore searching for pharmaceutical compounds that prevent the formation of these dangerous aggregates. In animal models, certain non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) were found to a reduced formation of harmful beta-amyloid variants. Yet, in subsequent clinical studies, these NSAIDs failed to elicit any beneficial effects.

Activating pathway could restart hair growth

Diagram of a hair follicle
A pathway known for its role in regulating adult stem cells has been shown to be important for hair follicle proliferation, but contrary to previous research, it's not required within hair follicle stem cells for their survival, according to a new study by researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania.

The study identifies a molecular pathway that can be activated to prompt hair growth of dormant hair follicles, or blocked to prevent growth of unwanted hair.

The team examined the functions of Wnt proteins, which are small molecular messengers that convey information between cells and activate signaling via the intracellular molecule β-catenin. By disrupting Wnt signaling in an animal model with an inhibitor Dkk1, the team found that hair growth was prevented. However, stem cells were still maintained within the dormant hair follicles. When Dkk1 was removed, the Wnt/β-catenin pathway resumed normal function, the stem cells were activated, and hair growth was restored.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Singapore researchers make breakthrough in regenerative medicine

Human embryonic stem cells
Researchers at A*STAR’s Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) announced yesterday that they have successfully converted human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) cultured in the laboratory to a state that is closer to the cells found in the human blastocyst. This means that we are now one step closer to cultivating stem cells for research and potential therapeutic purposes, as well as understanding the processes of early human development.

Pluripotent stem cells such as hESCs and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) have the remarkable ability to differentiate into various cell types of the adult body while proliferating continuously in culture. In the field of regenerative medicine, these cells are potentially a limitless resource to generate cells of different body parts such as the eye, liver, brain, kidney and pancreas to treat degenerative diseases or replace of worn out organs. Pluripotency is the essential property of the cells of the blastocyst in the early stages of human development.

Study identifies promising tool for cardiac stem cell grafting

Jeffrey Spees, Ph.D., UVM associate professor of medicine
and director,  Stem Cell Core and graduate student
Krithika Rao.
(Photo by Alec Jacobson)
Researchers at the University of Vermont Associate Professor of Medicine Jeffrey Spees, Ph.D., have identified a new tool that could help facilitate future stem cell therapy for the more than 700,000 Americans who suffer a heart attack each year.

Stem cells, which can come from embryos, fetal tissue and adult tissues, have the capacity to transform into a wide range of cell types in the body, including muscle cells, brain cells and red blood cells. These cells also possess the ability to repair human tissues. The field of regenerative medicine - which explores the viability of using embryonic, fetal and adult stem cells to repair and regenerate tissues and organs - has struggled to successfully graft cells from culture back into injured tissue.

Tet1 helps developing germ cells wipe genes clean of past imprints

A new study by researchers at Boston Children's Hospital indicates that the Tet1 protein is partially responsible for giving primordial germ cells a clean epigenetic slate before developing into sperm and egg cells, according to a new study.

The discovery could help provide clues to the cause of some kinds of neonatal growth defects and may also help advance the development of stem cell models of disease.

Each of our cells carries two copies, or alleles, of every gene in our genome, one from each parent. In certain genes, one allele is imprinted -- marked with small chemical tags called methyl groups -- to keep it silent and prevent biological conflicts from arising between the two copies.

The stem cell field is growing twice as fast as the world average

Embryonic stem cells
Elsevier, EuroStemCell, and Kyoto University's Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences (iCeMS), recently released a report enitled "Trends and Perspectives on the Evolving International Landscape" at the World Stem Cell Summit.

This new, comprehensive analysis of the growth and development of the stem cell field as a whole, closely examines the research landscape for embryonic stem (ES) cell, human embryonic stem (hES) cell and induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell.

In order to provide a broad and transparent data driven view of the field, the study reviewed leading nations' research output, citation impact and collaboration behavior, as well as assessing international differences in focus and growth.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

New means to grow and coax intestinal stem cells

Near homogenous culture
of intestinal stem cells
For patients with gastrointestinal disorders, like  ulcers or Crohn's disease, treatment often means quelling uncomfortable symptoms through medications or dietary changes.

But what if one day treatment meant doing away with the old gut and getting a new one, free of inflamed or diseased tissues?

That is where scientists at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are hoping their new study findings will lead. In their work, the researchers were able to grow extensive numbers of intestinal stem cells, then coax them to develop into different types of mature intestinal cells.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

StemGenex announces new stem cell treatment for MS patients with bladder dysfunction

StemGenex, a company offering adult adipose stem cell treatments in the US aimed at improving the lives of patients dealing with degenerative diseases announced today a new therapy for patients with Multiple Sclerosis.

According to the National MS Society, at least 80% of people with MS experience bladder dysfunction. StemGenex believes a new therapy delivering adipose derived mesenchymal cells directly to the bladder may reduce the inflammation that is causing the patient’s incontinence.

California Stem receives FDA Approval to begin Phase III cancer stem cell trial for metastatic melanoma

California Stem Cell, Inc. just announced that it has received approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to begin a Phase III clinical trial exploring the potential of a cancer stem cell-based platform therapy to treat advanced metastatic melanoma. The protocol has received Special Protocol Assessment (SPA), indicating that FDA is in agreement that the design, clinical endpoints, and planned clinical analyses of the Phase III trial address regulatory objectives sufficient for market approval.

The therapy has also been granted fast track status by FDA, a designation given to therapies which show promise in treating life-threatening medical conditions, which accelerates the approval of investigational new drugs undergoing clinical trials.

Mary Ann Liebert to receive award for stem cell education

Mary Ann Liebert
The Genetics Policy Institute (GPI) will bestow its 2013 Education Award on Mary Ann Liebert, President and CEO of the company that bears her name, citing her work in educating patients, researchers, and the broader stem cell community, and in raising the standard in medical research journalism.

Ms. Liebert is the president and CEO of a media company known for establishing authoritative peer-reviewed journals in promising areas of science and biomedical research. Its biotechnology trade magazine, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN), debuted in 1980, was the first in its field, and is today the industry's most widely read publication worldwide. Stem Cells and Development is an authoritative peer-reviewed journal dedicated to developments in the biology, characteristics, and therapeutic utility of stem cells. Many journals she publishes intersect the field of regenerative medicine, contributing to the scholarship and advancing stem cell science.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Human induced pluripotent stem cells turned into functional lung cells


Sketch of the human lungs
Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center announced today that they have succeeded in transforming human induced pluripotent stem cells into functional lung and airway cells.

The advance, has significant potential for modeling lung disease, screening drugs, studying human lung development, and, ultimately, generating lung tissue for transplantation.
"Researchers have had relative success in turning human stem cells into heart cells, pancreatic beta cells, intestinal cells, liver cells, and nerve cells, raising all sorts of possibilities for regenerative medicine. Now, we are finally able to make lung and airway cells. 
This is important because lung transplants have a particularly poor prognosis. Although any clinical application is still many years away, we can begin thinking about making autologous lung transplants -- that is, transplants that use a patient's own skin cells to generate functional lung tissue.", said study leader Hans-Willem Snoeck, MD, PhD, professor of medicine (in microbiology & immunology) and affiliated with the Columbia Center for Translational Immunology and the Columbia Stem Cell Initiative.

Researchers announce new method to grow intestinal stem cells

Paneth cells
In a newly published study, researchers at MIT and Brigham and Women's Hospital have shown that they can grow unlimited quantities of intestinal stem cells, then stimulate them to develop into nearly pure populations of different types of mature intestinal cells. Using these cells, scientists could develop and test new drugs to treat diseases such as ulcerative colitis.

The small intestine, like most other body tissues, has a small store of immature adult stem cells that can differentiate into more mature, specialized cell types. Until now, there has been no good way to grow large numbers of these stem cells, because they only remain immature while in contact with a type of supportive cells called Paneth cells.

Colorectal cancer researchers target cancer stem cells and discover viable new therapeutic path

Dr John Dick
Photo credit: UHN
Researchers and surgeons at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre announced today that they have discovered a promising new approach to treating colorectal cancer by disarming the gene that drives self-renewal in stem cells that are the root cause of disease, resistance to treatment and relapse.

Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the Western world.

"This is the first step toward clinically applying the principles of cancer stem cell biology to control cancer growth and advance the development of durable cures," said principal investigator Dr. John Dick about the findings published online today in Nature Medicine.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Finding Hope for Cerebral Palsy: Stem Cell Therapy

Child with Cerebral Palsy being examined
The effects of a debilitating disease like cerebral palsy on a child, as well as the family of that child, are far beyond what words can describe.

Often times, these families are left with few options at the very most in terms of treatment, and have to rely heavily on physical and psychological therapy to try and improve their child’s quality of life.

But are there better treatment options?
In most cases, children born with cerebral palsy experience a loss of general motor skills and have difficulty speaking, which is usually a result of a lack of oxygen to the center portions of the brain that control the movement of the body’s extremities. However, in more extreme cases, mental retardation and a near complete state of disability is often seen.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Human embryonic stem cell lines placed on NIH Stem Cell Registry

Scientists at King’s College London announced a few days ago that 16 human embryonic stem cell lines have been approved by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) and placed on their Stem Cell Registry, making them freely available for federally-funded research in the USA. 

The stem cell lines, which carry genes for a variety of hereditary disorders such as Huntington’s disease, spinal muscular dystrophy and cystic fibrosis, are considered to be ideal research tools for designing models to understand disease progression, and ultimately in helping scientists develop new treatments for patients.

King’s is now one of the five biggest providers of disease-specific human embryonic stem cells lines on the NIH Registry, and the largest from the UK. The development is a significant milestone for King’s and keeps the university at the forefront of global research into regenerative medicine.

Researchers identify stem cell population responsible for heart regeneration

Some vertebrates seem to have found the fountain of youth, at least when it comes to their heart. In many amphibians and fish, for example, this important organ has a marked capacity for regeneration and self-healing.

There are even some species that have perfected this capability and can completely repair damage caused to heart tissue, thus maintaining the organ's full functionality.

However, up until recently it was widely accepted that the mammalian heart had little to no regenerative capacity. However, scientists now know that heart muscle cells constantly regenerate, although at a very low rate.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

South Carolina lawmaker accused of misbranding stem cells


A freshman South Carolina lawmaker is facing federal charges over the mislabeling of stem cells.

Court records show that 31-year-old Rep. Stephen Goldfinch Jr. was charged Tuesday with one count of misbranded drugs.

Federal prosecutors say the Murrells Inlet Republican owned Caledonia Consulting, a Mount Pleasant company that harvests and processes stem cells from umbilical cord blood.

The government says that between April 2006 and December 2008, Caledonia sold stem cells to a Texas man who performed unapproved procedures involving stem cells.

Researchers at Penn discover mechanism behind the longevity of hematopoietic stem cells

Picture of a dividing blood stem cell. Myosin IIB is
labeled green and is concentrated on the
side that will remain a stem cell.
The blood stem cells that live in bone marrow - called hematopoietic stem cells - are at the top of a complex family tree. Such stem cells split and divide down various pathways that ultimately produce red cells, white cells and platelets. These "daughter" cells must be produced at a rate of about one million per second to constantly replenish the body's blood supply.

Researchers have long wondered what allows these stem cells to persist for decades, when their progeny last for days, weeks or even months before they need to be replaced. Now, a new study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania has uncovered one of the mechanisms that allow hematopoietic stem cells to keep dividing in perpetuity.

The research team found that a form of the motor protein that allows muscles to contract helps these cells divide asymmetrically, so that one part remains a stem cell while the other becomes a daughter cell. Their findings could provide new insight into blood cancers, such as leukemia, and eventually lead to ways of growing transfusable blood cells in a lab.

Researchers develop new method for corneal stem cell treatments

Schematic diagram of the human eye showing
the cornea as separated from the sclera
by the corneal limbus
Scientists at the Cedars-Sinai Regenerative Medicine Institute have designed and tested a novel, minute-long procedure to prepare human amniotic membrane for use as a scaffold for specialized stem cells that may be used to treat some corneal diseases. This membrane serves as a foundation that supports the growth of stem cells in order to graft them onto the cornea.

The new method may accelerate research and clinical applications for stem cell corneal transplantation.

Corneal blindness affects more than 8 million people worldwide. Among other causes, corneal blindness may be the result of corneal stem cell deficiency, a disease usually resulting from genetic defects or injury to the eye -- such as burns, infection or chronic inflammation -- that can lead to vision loss.

A feasible treatment to rectify vision loss for such patients is corneal stem cell transplantation, either as a biopsy from another eye or by transplanting cultured stem cells, although this promising approach is not yet fully standardized.

Prostate cancer stem cells found to be a "moving target"

Prostate and nearby organs
Drs. Andrew Goldstein, Owen Witte, and Tanya Stoyanova and their colleagues from UCLA's Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research recently announced that they have found that prostate cancer can develop in one type of stem cell, then evolve to be maintained by a stem cell that looks very different, making prostate cancer stem cells a "moving target" for treatments. The breakthrough discovery connects directly to the development of future therapeutics that target cancer.

Adult stem cells are tissue-specific regenerative cells that replace diseased or damaged cells in the body's organs. Drs. Goldstein, Witte and colleagues previously reported in Science that prostate cancer can start in basal type stem cells. Building on that discovery, they found that tumors can start in basal stem cells that evolve to luminal-like cells. This means that the source of the disease they wish to target with therapy -- the tumor stem cell -- can change over time.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

New stem cell platform technology recognized with patent award

Stem cell therapeutics provider Parcell Laboratories announced today that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) has issued their company the Patent No. 8,574,567 entitled "Multipotent Stem Cells and Uses There of" on November 5.

The newly issued patent concerns the Early Lineage Adult (ELA®) stem cell, and relates to providing an isolated population of stem cells that exist in the synovial fluid, blood, and other tissues in the body, and related therapeutic methods. Parcell Laboratories holds the exclusive worldwide license to the ELA stem cell platform technology, which was originally discovered by scientists affiliated with the Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School. This multipotent stem cell patent has a term extending through 2028.

UCLA researchers discover placenta progenitor cell that may illuminate pregnancy complications

Dr. Hanna Mikkola
Dr. Hanna Mikkola and researchers at the UCLA's Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research announced today that they have identified a novel progenitor cell and a related cell communication pathway that are key to the successful growth of a healthy placenta.

Led by Dr. Mikkola, associate professor of molecular, cell, and developmental biology in the life sciences, and Dr. Masaya Ueno, post-doctoral fellow, the team's discovery gives scientists a "tool box" for understanding the developmental hierarchy of progenitor cells, cells that develop into other cells, that initiate growth of the placenta, and greatly increases the knowledge of what might cause pregnancy complications.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Human neural stem cells could be help in the treatment of critical limb ischemia

Vascular ischaemia of the toes
with characteristic cyanosis.
According to a new study by researchers at the University of Bristol's School of Clinical Sciences, human neural stem cells could improve blood flow in critical limb ischemia through the growth of new vessels. Critical limb ischemia (CLI) is a disease that severely obstructs arteries and reduces the blood flow to legs and feet. CLI remains an unmet clinical problem and with an ageing population and the rise in type II diabetes, the incidence of CLI is expected to increase.

Current stem cell therapy trials for the treatment of CLI have revitalised new hope for improving symptoms and prolonging life expectancy. However, there are limitations on the use of autologous cell therapy. The patient's own stem cells are generally invasively harvested from bone marrow or require purification from peripheral blood after cytokine stimulation. Other sources contain so few stem cells that ex vivo expansion through lengthy bespoke Good Manufacturing Practice processes is required. Ultimately, these approaches lead to cells of variable quality and potency that are affected by the patient's age and disease status and lead to inconsistent therapeutic outcomes.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Notch signaling pathway keeps immature T-Cells on the right track

Scanning electron micrograph of a human T cell
The lab of Avinash Bhandoola, PhD, professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Penn Medicine, has been studying the origins of T cells for a long time now. One protein called Notch, which has well-known roles in the development of multiple tissues, plays an essential role in triggering T-cell development. T cells are immune cells that are made in the thymus, a small organ situated under the breastbone near the heart.

However, T cells, like all blood-cell types, originate from hematopoietic stem cells in the bone marrow. Immature T-cell progenitors leave the bone marrow, settle within the thymus, and eventually give rise to T cells.

With graduate student Maria Elena De Obaldia, Bhandoola describes in a new study published in Nature Immunology this month how Notch signaling induces expression of genes that promote the maturation of T cells and discourage alternative cell fates. Deficiency of the Notch target gene Hes1 in blood stem cells results in extremely low T-cell numbers, but the underlying mechanism is unknown. Keeping in mind that Notch signaling gone awry induces leukemia.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Spanish researchers grow artificial skin using umbilical cord stem cells

The members of the Tissue Engineering Team
at the Dept. of Histology at the University of Granada.
Yesterday, researchers at the University of Granada announced an important scientific breakthrough, that may aid in the immediate use of artificially-grown skin for major burn patients, since the skin could be stored in tissue banks and made available when needed.

One of the problems major burn victims face is that, using the current protocols for artificial skin, they need to wait several weeks in order for it to be grown, using healthy skin from the patient himself.

The Spanish scientists, from the Tissue Engineering Research Group, from the Dept. of Histology at the University of Granada, say they have managed - for the first time - to grow artificial skin from stem cells derived from the umbilical cord. Their study, published in the journal Stem Cells Translational Medicine, shows the ability of Wharton jelly mesenschymal stem cells to turn to oral-mucosa or skin-regeneration epithelia.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Newly found brown fat stem cells may be the key for treating Diabetes and Obesity

Brown adipose tissue (fat) in a woman
shown in a PET/CT exam
Obesity and diabetes have become a global epidemic leading to severe cardiovascular disease. Now, researchers at the University of Utah say that their recent identification of brown fat stem cells in adult humans may lead to new treatments for heart and endocrine disorders.

The study was led by Amit N. Patel, M.D. M.S., director of Clinical Regenerative Medicine and Tissue Engineering and associate professor in the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the University of Utah School of Medicine.

Prior to Patel's study, it was thought that brown fat stem cells did not exist in adults. Children have large amounts of brown fat that is highly metabolically active, which allows them to eat large amounts of food and not gain weight.

Patel notes, adults generally have an abundance of white fat in their bodies, which leads to weight gain and cardiovascular disease but this is not seen in brown fat. As people age, the amount of white fat increases while brown fat decreases which in turn contributes to diabetes and high cholesterol.

Alexander Disease reveals clues about broader brain pathology

Brain of a 4-year-old boy with Alexander disease
showing macroencephaly and periventricular demyelinisation
Alexander disease (also known as fibrinoid leukodystroph) is a devastating brain disease that very few have actually heard of.

Alexander disease strikes young or old, and in children destroys white matter in the front of the brain. Many patients, especially those with early onset, have significant intellectual disabilities.

Regardless of the age when it begins, Alexander disease is always fatal. It typically results from mutations in a gene known as GFAP (glial fibrillary acidic protein), leading to the formation of fibrous clumps of protein inside brain cells called astrocytes.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Researchers develop functional cardiac microtissues using human stem cells

A new study published in top biomedical journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Science) this week by scientists at the University of Toronto’s Institute of Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering (IBBME) and the McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine has identified the optimal structure and cell ratio associated with proper heart function. Furthermore, the discovery has already led the team to another research first: the engineering of the first-ever living, three-dimensional human arrhythmic tissue.

The study marks the first time that researchers have tried to define and formulate the precise type and ratio of cell types that produce highly functional cardiac tissue.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Clinical studies show stem cells are effective in cardiac therapy

Building on a trailblazing body of work in stem cell research at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, an interdisciplinary team led by Joshua M. Hare, M.D., Director of the Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute, revealed the results of two pioneering studies in cardiac stem cell therapy during oral presentations at the American Heart Association national convention held in Dallas, today and Monday.

Both studies build on Hare’s scientific and clinical research in the field of cardiac stem cell therapy. "The results of these studies  show that mesenchymal stem cells can have a major impact on cardiac care." said Hare, Chief Science Officer at the Miller School.

The first study, Transendocardial Autologous Cells in Ischemic Heart Failure (TAC-HFT), is being presented in the late-breaking sessions as it is simultaneously being published in the Journal of the American Medical Association(JAMA).