Thursday, 30 January 2014

A new way to induce pluripotency using exposure to low pH

embryo developed by stap cells
STAP cells generated entire fetus body.
An unusual reprogramming phenomenon by which the fate of somatic cells can be drastically altered through changes to the external environment is described in two new papers appearing in this week's Nature.

Postnatal somatic cells committed to a specific lineage are shown to be converted into a pluripotent state (capable of differentiating into almost all types of cells) when exposed to an environmental stress, in this case short exposure to low pH.

This reprogramming process does not need nuclear manipulation or the introduction of transcription factors ( previously thought to be necessary to induce pluripotency) so the work may have important implications for regenerative medicine.

CIRM funds more than $66 Million in research including new genomics initiative

A team bringing together experts and investigators from seven different major California institutions has been awarded $40 million to create a new Center of Excellence in Stem Cell Genomics, by California’s stem cell agency, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

The Center of Excellence will focus on bridging the fields of genomics - studying the complete genetic make-up of a cell or organism - with stem cell research. The goal is to use these tools to gain a deeper understanding of the disease processes in cancer, diabetes, heart disease and mental health, and ultimately to try and find safer and more effective ways of using stem cells in medical research and therapy.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Bioheart announces successful adipose derived stem cell implantation

Bioheart, a biotechnology company focused on the discovery, development and commercialization of autologous cell therapies, announced today that its first successful adipose derived stem cell (ADSC) implantation took place in Azerbaijan at Baku Central Military Hospital.

"Stem cell therapy is literally changing medicine today as we know it. Bioheart is thrilled to bring these treatments to patients all over the world who are currently suffering from debilitating diseases but who have limited treatment options." said Kristin Comella, Bioheart's Chief Scientific Officer.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Converting adult human skin cells to hair-follicle-producing stem cells

Hair shafts (arrows) formed by
induced pluripotent stem cell-derived epithelial stem cells.
If the content of many a situation comedy, not to mention late-night TV advertisements, is to be believed, there's an epidemic of balding men along with an intense desire to fix their follicular deficiencies.

One potential approach to reversing hair loss is using stem cells to regenerate the missing or dying hair follicles. As of now, it hasn't been possible to generate sufficient number of hair-follicle-generating stem cells.

Now, a new study by Xiaowei "George" Xu, MD, PhD, associate professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and Dermatology at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, and colleagues published in Nature Communications shows a method for converting adult cells into epithelial stem cells (EpSCs), the first time anyone has achieved this in either humans or mice.

Singapore researchers coax stem cells into developing liver and pancreas precursor cells

Researchers at the Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) in A*STAR announced today that they have developed a new method of directing human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) into highly pure populations of endoderm, a valuable cell type that gives rise to organs including the liver and pancreas.

These cells are highly sought-after for therapeutic and biotechnological purposes, but have been historically difficult to attain from hPSCs. The ability to generate pure endoderm at higher yields from hPSCs is a key and important step towards the use of stem cells in clinical applications.

Monday, 27 January 2014

New method to produce human embryonic stem cells without destroying embryos

Karl Tryggvason (left)
and Outi Hovatta
Researchers at the Karolinska Institutet just announced that they have developed a new method which allows the large-scale production of human embryonic stem cells of high clinical quality, without destroying any human embryos. The discovery is a big step forward for stem cell research and for the high hopes for replacing damaged cells and thereby curing serious illnesses such as diabetes and Parkinson's disease.

Currently the use of human embryonic stem cells is highly controversial as they are made from surplus in vitro fertilized (IVF) embryos that are not used for the generation of pregnancies. The embryos are destroyed in the process. Therefore it has been illegal in the USA to to use this method for deriving embryonic stem cell lines. Sweden s legislation has been more permissive. It has been possible to generate embryonic stem cells from excess, early IVF embryos with the permission of the persons donating their eggs and sperm.

Ireland’s first stem cell facility opened today in Galway

Stem cells for human use will soon be manufactured for the first time in Ireland, following Irish Medicines Board licensing of the first stem cell facility in Galway.

NUI Galway’s Centre for Cell Manufacturing aims to culture adult stem cells to treat several conditions including arthritis, heart disease, diabetes and associated conditions.

The centre, which is one of the very few in Europe authorised for stem cell manufacturing, has been developed by researchers at NUIG’s regenerative medicine institute.

The Health Research Board and Science Foundation Ireland has already approved funding on the new centre for clinical trials on mesenchymal stem cells.

Breast stem cells retain cancer legacy

 Professor Jane Visvader, Dr Nai Yang Fu, Dr Anne Rios
 and Professor Geoff Lindeman (left to right) 
Researchers at the Melbourne’s Walter and Eliza Hall Institute announced yesterday that they discovered that breast stem cells and their ‘daughters’ have a much longer lifespan than previously thought, and are active in puberty and throughout life.

The longevity of breast stem cells and their daughters means that they could retain genetic defects or damage that evolves to cancer decades later, potentially shifting back the timeline of breast cancer development.

The finding is also integral to identifying the ‘cells of origin’ of breast cancer and the ongoing quest to develop new treatments and diagnostics for breast cancer.

Friday, 24 January 2014

California Stem Cell to begin phase II clinical trial for ovarian cancer

California Stem Cell (CSC) announced today it has submitted a Phase II protocol to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a randomized, double-blind study to assess CSC’s patient-specific cancer immunotherapy in women with Stage III or IV ovarian, fallopian tube or primary peritoneal cancer.

Led by Chief Medical Officer Robert Dillman, M.D., the study design randomizes an estimated 99 adult female patients to two treatment arms. The treatment group will receive Ovapuldencel-T, which is a combination of autologous dendritic cells loaded with irradiated autologous tumor cells in GM-CSF. 

One step closer to making Beta cells from stem cells

Endodermal cells form several organs
like the lungs, liver and pancreas.
The Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway and microRNA 335 have a key role in helpingdifferentiated progenitor cells form from stem cells. These progenitors are organized in germ layers and are thus the origin of different types of tissue, including the pancreas and its insulin-producing beta cells.

With these findings, Helmholtz Zentrum München scientists have discovered key molecular functions of stem cell differentiation which could be used for beta cell replacement therapy in diabetes. 

The results of their two studies appear in the journal Development.

The findings of the researchers at the Institute of Diabetes and Regeneration Research (IDR) at Helmholtz Zentrum München (HMGU) provide new insights into the molecular regulation of stem cell differentiation. Their findings reveal important target structures for regenerative therapy approaches to chronic diseases such as diabetes.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Hematopoietic stem cells are regulated by estrogen levels

Dr. Sean Morrison, Director of CRI,
and Professor of Pediatrics
Photo Credit
It's a long known fact that stem cells in male and female sexual organs are regulated differently by their respective hormones. Yesterday, researchers at the Children's Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern (CRI) and Baylor College of Medicine reported a surprising discovery. They have found that stem cells in the blood-forming system - which is similar in both sexes - also are regulated differently by hormones, with estrogen proving to be an especially prolific promoter of stem cell self-renewal.

The new study, published in Nature, raises several intriguing possibilities for further investigation that might lead to improved treatments for blood cancers and increased safety and effectiveness of chemotherapy.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Cancer stem cells quality more important than quantity for oral cancer survival

A new study by researchers at  The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC - James) indicates that it is the quality and not the quantity of cancer stem cells that leads to better survival in certain patients with oral cancer.

The researchers investigated how cancer stem cell numbers in oral cancers associated with human papillomavirus (HPV) and in oral cancers not associated with the virus. Typically, patients with HPV-positive oral cancer respond better to therapy and have a more promising prognosis than patients with HPV-negative tumors. The latter are usually associated with tobacco and alcohol use.

Cool stem cell images

Just found a very interesting blog while browsing Neuromics google+ account.

It's called  "HighMag" and features "images that are visually striking, biologically interesting, and technically challenging.".

If you are a fun of stem cells and photography make sure to check it out, just click here!

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

RMS now offering stem cell treatment for Celiac and IBD

Regenerative Medicine Solutions (RMS), a global provider of stem cell treatments to patients with degenerative diseases, issued a press release announcing that it will soon start offering Regenerative ColoTherapy(RCT), a proprietary stem cell treatment for people suffering with celiac and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). 

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (UC) are two of the most notable conditions that fall under the IBD umbrella, affecting millions of people all over the world.

It is estimated that there are 1.4 million cases of Crohn’s and colitis in the U.S., which roughly translates to the population size of Philadelphia. Although Crohn’s, colitis, and celiac disease are very different conditions, affecting different areas of the intestines, treatment options are similar and mainly consist of diet modification, anti-inflammatories, and immunosuppressants.

Monday, 20 January 2014

ACT to pay $4.1M over alleged stock violations

Image Credit
Advanced Cell Technology of Marlborough (ACT) agreed last week to pay $4.1 million over the next 18 months to settle claims made by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that the company sold billions of shares of unregistered penny stocks.

ACT, which didn't admit or deny the allegations, will pay $3.5 million in profits it allegedly gained as well as interest of $586,619, according to a judgment issued by a U.S. District Court judge in Florida.

The alleged violations occurred in late 2008 and early 2009 under former CEO William Caldwell IV, who died in 2010.

Click here to read more about this story.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Mayo Clinic receives FDA approval to begin stem cell trial on patients with heart failure

Mayo Clinic announced yesterday that Cardio3 BioSciences -an international Mayo Clinic collaborator -has received FDA approval for a phase III pivotal clinical trial of its stem cell therapy.

The trial will test the Mayo Clinic discovery of cardiopoietic (cardiogenically-instructed) stem cells designed to improve heart health in people suffering from heart failure. The multisite U.S. trial, called CHART-2, aims to recruit 240 patients with chronic advanced symptomatic heart failure.

"Regenerative medicine is poised to transform the way we treat patients." said Andre Terzic, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Regenerative Medicine.

Repair Stem Cell Institute invites COPD patients in a unique stem cell trial

The Repair Stem Cell Institute (RSCI) issued a press release yesterday announcing that it will assist patients interested in taking part in a clinical trial based in the United States for the treatment of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

The FDA approved and compliant trial, which uses adult stem cells, will be conducted only during January 2014 in the U.S. states of Florida and Georgia.

New insight on how stem cells maintain the architecture of our skin

Mutant epidermal stem cells lose the connections
to their neighbours (red, right)
compared to normal stem cells (red, left).
Our bodies are exposed on a daily basis to several external from bacteria, ultraviolet light, chemical agents etc.

Skin, our largest organ, is the first line of defense against these attackers. Skin performs this function thanks to the close connections established between its cells (e.g. adherens junctions).

The loss of cell adhesion between these cells is related to inflammatory diseases and cancer, hence the special interest in this area of research over the past years.

Now, a study by the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO), featured on the cover of the latest Journal of Cell Biology, shows how interactions between skin stem cells - the cells responsible for the constant renewal of skin - maintain the architecture of this organ.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Study shows no significant difference in long-term experiences of bone marrow and peripheral blood stem cell donors

Bone marrow transplant
People donating blood stem cells do not report any difference in long-term experiences when donating blood stem cells from bone marrow compared to stem cells from circulating blood, according to a new study published in this month's Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation (BBMT).

Conducted by the Blood and Marrow Transplant Clinical Trials Network (BMT CTN), the pre-specified subgroup analysis included 332 individuals who donated bone marrow or circulating peripheral blood stem cells (PBSCs), two blood stem cell collection processes that doctors use today. Donated cells are used in unrelated transplants for patients with life-threatening blood cancers including leukemia and lymphoma.

All donors were interviewed before their procedures about their general health and expectations. Those results were later compared with their responses 48 hours after donation, on a weekly basis until fully recovered, and at six and 12 months after the procedure.

Stem cell injection can help in meniscus regeneration

Thomas Vangness
A single injection containing mesenchymal stem cells following meniscus knee surgery may provide significant pain relief and aid in meniscus regeneration, according to a new study appearing in the latest issue of the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery.

More than one million knee arthroscopy procedures are performed each year in the U.S., primarily for the treatment of tears meniscal tears, the wedge-shaped pieces of cartilage that act as "shock absorbers" between the thighbone and shinbone in the knee joint.

In the current study, named "Adult Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSC) Delivered via Intra-Articular Injection to the Knee, Following Partial Medial Meniscectomy," most patients who received a single injection of adult stem cells following the surgical removal of all or part of a torn meniscus, reported a significant reduction in pain.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Miami Stem Cell Treatment Center announces free seminars on stem cells

Dr. Nia Smyrniotis
The Miami Stem Cell Treatment Center, located in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, and Boca Raton, Florida, announced today a series of free public seminars on the use of stem cells for various degenerative and inflammatory conditions. The seminars will be provided by Dr. Thomas A. Gionis, Surgeon-in-Chief, and, Dr. Nia Smyrniotis, Medical Director.

The seminars will be held on January 18th and 19th. On January 18th, the seminar will be held at the Boca Raton Marriot, at Boca Town Center, 5150 Town Center Circle, Boca Raton, Florida 33486, at 1 p.m., and on January 19th at the Courtyard Marriot Aventura, 2825 NE 191st Street, Aventura, Florida 33180, at 1 p.m.

Cord Blood Registry to begin stem cell trial for acquired sensorineural hearing loss

Cord Blood Registry,a newborn stem cell company, announced today the start of a U.S. Food and Drug (FDA)-regulated study being conducted at Florida Hospital for Children in Orlando to investigate the use of a child's stem cells from their own stored umbilical cord blood as a treatment for acquired sensorineural hearing loss.

In the United States, approximately 15 percent of children suffer from low or high-frequency hearing loss. The most common type of hearing loss, especially at high frequencies, is sensorineural.

Acquired sensorineural hearing loss results from damage to hair cells in the inner ear (cochlea) and can be caused by illness, medication, noise exposure, birth injury, or head trauma. A child's ability to hear affects the development of language skills, and hearing impairments can lead to poor academic and social development.

Mesenchymal stem cells overcome damage in other cells by exporting mitochondria

Researchers announced today that they have identified a protein (Miro1) that increases the transfer of mitochondria from mesenchymal stem cells to lung cells. In work published in The EMBO Journal, the researchers reveal that the delivery of mitochondria to human lung cells can rejuvenate damaged cells.

The migration of mitochondria from mesenchymal stem cells to epithelial cells also helps to repair tissue damage and inflammation linked to asthma-like symptoms in mice.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

The International Society for Stem Cell Research announces its 2014 award recipients

The International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) has announced the following 2014 award recipients, who will be formally recognized at its 12th Annual Meeting in Vancouver, taking place June 18-21, 2014:
  • Azim Surani, Ph.D., Wellcome Trust/Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute, for the McEwen Award for Innovation
  • Valentina Greco, Ph.D., Yale University, Department of Genetics, Yale Stem Cell Center, for the ISSCR-BD Biosciences Outstanding Young Investigator Award
  • Paolo Bianco, M.D., Sapienza University of Rome, Elena Cattaneo, Ph.D., University of Milan and Michele De Luca, M.D., University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, for the ISSCR Public Service Award

New study on brown adipose derived stem cells by BioRestorative Therapies

BioRestorative Therapies (BT), a life sciences company focusing on adult stem cell-based therapies for various personal medical applications, today announced that a preclinical study that is part of its ThermoStem® program has been published in the latest issue of the journal Stem Cells.

As previously announced, the newly identified human adult brown fat stem cells discussed in the study have the potential to lead to the development of a cell-based method for the treatment of type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Experts in adult stem cells to speak at STEMSO conference

Presenters (left to right): Amit Patel, Camillo Ricordi
and Allan Wu
The International Stem Cell Society (STEMSO) announced yesterday that several leading doctors in adult stem cell therapy will be speaking at the global conference in The Bahamas, February 19-22, 2014.

The conference, titled  "Bridging the Gap: Research to Point of Care", brings together medical scientists, clinicians, regulatory experts, and investors to discuss progress in the field of research and clinical protocols and the process of taking promising therapies to fight chronic disease to market in a responsible manner.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

New findings on breast cancer stem cells explain how it spreads

Max S. Wicha
Credit: University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center
Breast cancer stem cells exist in two different states with each state playing a role in how breast cancer spreads, according to the findings of an international collaboration of researchers.

Their study sheds new light on the process that makes cancer a deadly disease.

"The lethal part of cancer is its metastasis so understanding how metastasis occurs is critical. We have evidence that cancer stem cells are responsible for metastasis, they are the seeds that mediate cancer's spread. Now we've discovered how the stem cells do this." said senior author of the study, Max S. Wicha, M.D., Distinguished Professor of Oncology and director of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Neuralstem commences ischemic stroke stem cell trial in China

A few days ago, Neuralstem issued a press release announcing that the first patient was treated in the Phase I/II NSI-566 stem cell trial to treat motor deficits from ischemic stroke at BaYi Brain Hospital in Beijing, China.

The patient received treatment on December 27, 2013 and has now returned home.
The trial is sponsored by Neuralstem's wholly-owned subsidiary, Neuralstem China, which was formed to develop Neuralstem's cell therapy products in China. The stroke motor deficit trial is the first in which Neuralstem's spinal-cord derived stem cells are being transplanted directly into the patient's brain.

BrainStorm receives US patent notice of allowance for its stem cell technology

BrainStorm Cell Therapeutics, a company developing adult stem cell technologies for neurodegenerative diseases, announced today that it has received a Notice of Allowance from the U.S. Patent Office for its "Isolated Cells and Populations Comprising Same for the Treatment of CNS Diseases" (serial number 11/727,583) patent application.

By blocking key signal, researchers keep embryonic stem cells pluripotent

Human embryonic stem cells
While the ability of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) to become any type of mature cell, from neuron to heart to skin and bone, is indisputably crucial to human development, no less important is the mechanism that is needed to maintain human embryonic stem cells in their pluripotent state until such change is required.

In a new paper published in this week’s Online Early Edition of PNAS, researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have found a key gene receptor and signaling pathway that is essential to doing just that, maintaining human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) in an undifferentiated state.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Pacific Meso Center receives $100,000 donation for mesothelioma stem cell research

The Pacific Meso Center, a Division of The Pacific Heart, Lung & Blood Institute (PHLBI), announced today that it has received a $100,000 donation from Roger G. Worthington of the Law Office of Worthington & Caron, PC to fund the Center's Mesenchymal Stem Cell Program. 

The goal of the research project is to develop innovative treatments for malignant pleural mesothelioma, an asbestos-related cancer affecting the lining of the chest.

Researchers develop iPSCs model of familial Alzheimer's disease

Researchers at the The New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF) Research Institute in collaboration with scientists at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS) have successfully generated a stem cell model of familial Alzheimer's disease (FAD). Using this stem cell model, researchers identified fourteen genes that may be implicated in the disease and one gene in particular that shows the importance that inflammation may play in the brain of Alzheimer's patients.

The research team produced stem cells and neural precursor cells (NPCs), representing early neural progenitor cells that build the brain, from patients with severe early-onset AD with mutations in the Presenilin 1 (PSEN1) gene. These NPCs had elevated Abeta42/Abeta40 ratios, indicating elevation of the form of amyloid found in the brains of Alzheimer's patients. These levels were greater than those in adult cells that did not have the PSEN1mutation. This elevated ratio showed that these NPCs grown in the petri dish were accurately reflecting the cells in the brains of FAD patients.

Researchers identify stem cell -Like T-cell population where HIV persists despite antiviral therapy

Scanning electron micrograph of HIV-1 (in green)
budding from cultured lymphocyte.
Although antiviral therapy against HIV suppresses viral replication and allows infected individuals to live relatively healthy lives for many years, the virus persists in the body, and replication resumes if treatment is interrupted.

Today, investigators from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard announced that they may have found where the virus hides -- in a small group of recently identified T cells with stem-cell-like properties.

"Most human cells are short lived, so it has been unclear how HIV manages to stick around for decades in spite of very effective antiviral treatment. This question led to the hypothesis that HIV might infect stem cells -- the most long-lasting cells in the body -- but traditional organ-specific stem cells, even those that give rise to all immune and blood cells, are resistant to HIV infection. We have discovered that a new group of T cells, called T memory stem cells, are susceptible to HIV and likely represent the longest lasting cellular niche for the virus." said Mathias Lichterfeld, MD, of the MGH Infectious Disease Division, corresponding author of the report receiving advance online publication inNature Medicine.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

iPSCs used to model disease causing abnormal bone growth

Edward Hsiao, MD, PhD
Researchers from the University of California - San Francisco recently announced that they  have developed a new method to study bone disorders and bone growth, using stem cells from patients afflicted with a rare, genetic bone disease.

The new approach, based on iPSCs technology, could illuminate the illness, in which muscles and tendons progressively turn into bone, and addresses the similar destructive process that afflicts a growing number of veterans who have suffered blast injuries -- including traumatic amputations or injuries to the brain and nervous system. This insidious hardening of tissues also grips some patients following joint replacement or severe bone injuries.

The new method involves taking skin cells from patients with the bone disease, reprogramming them in a lab dish to their embryonic state, and deriving stem cells from them.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Sapporo Medical University to begin clinical trial for spinal cord injuries

Sapporo Medical University announced yesterday that it will launch the nation’s first clinical trial for using stem cells to regenerate nerves in people with spinal cord injuries.

A team including professors Toshihiko Yamashita and Osamu Honmo will solicit about 30 examinees for the trial, which will last until October 2016.

The team will collect bone marrow fluid from patients who have sustained spinal cord injuries within the past two weeks, extract mesenchymal stem cells that develop into nerves from the fluid, and cultivate them in large quantities to make a preparation that will be intravenously injected into the patients.

Stem cell replacement for age-related macular degeneration

Preparations for operating: Dr. med. Boris V. Stanzel (left),
Claudine Strack and Ralf Brinken from the
Department of Ophthalmology of the Bonn University Hospital.
(Credit: Volker Lannert/Uni Bonn)
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most frequent cause of blindness. Scientists at the Department of Ophthalmology at the Bonn University Hospital and from the Neural Stem Cell Institute in New York (USA) have developed a method for using stem cells to replace cells in the eye destroyed by AMD.

The implants survived in rabbit eyes for several weeks. Additional research is needed for clinical application.

About four and a half million people in Germany suffer from age-related macular degeneration (AMD). It is associated with a gradual loss of visual acuity and the ability to read or drive a car can be lost. The center of the field of vision is blurry, as if covered by a veil.

Controlling stem cells following transplantation, from the inside out

Harvard Associate Professor Jeffrey Karp, PhD (left),
and James Ankrum, PhD (right).
(Credit: Brigham and Women's Hospital)
At team of Harvard and MIT stem cell researchers can now engineer cells that are more easily controlled following transplantation, potentially making cell therapies, hundreds of which are currently in clinical trials across the United States, more functional and efficient.

Associate Professor Jeffrey Karp, PhD, and James Ankrum, PhD, demonstrate in this month's issue of Nature Protocolshow to load cells with microparticles that provide the cells cues for how they should behave over the course of days or weeks as the particles degrade.

"Regardless of where the cell is in the body, it's going to be receiving its cues from the inside. This is a completely different strategy than the current method of placing cells onto drug-doped microcarriers or scaffolds, which is limiting because the cells need to remain in close proximity to those materials in order to function. Also these types of materials are too large to be infused into the bloodstream." said Karp, a Harvard Stem Cell Institute Principal Faculty member at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Researchers develop artificial bone marrow

Scanning electron microscopy of stem cells (yellow / green)
 in a scaffold structure (blue) serving as a basis
for the artificial bone marrow.
(Credit: C. Lee-Thedieck/KIT)
Scientists at KIT, the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, Stuttgart, and Tübingen University yesterday announced that they have have developed artificial bone marrow which may be used to reproduce hematopoietic stem cells.

The porous structure possesses essential properties of natural bone marrow and can be used for the reproduction of stem cells at the laboratory. This might facilitate the treatment of leukemia in just a few years.

The study appears in journal Biomaterials.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Stem cells repair injured peripheral nerves

Using skin-derived stem cells (SDSCs) and a previously developed collagen tube designed to successfully bridge gaps in injured nerves in rat models, the research team in Milan, Italy that established and tested the procedure has successfully rescued peripheral nerves in the upper arms of a patient suffering peripheral nerve damage who would have otherwise had to undergo amputations.
"Peripheral nerve repair with satisfactory functional recovery remains a great surgical challenge, especially for severe nerve injuries resulting in extended nerve defects. However, we hypothesized that the combination of autologous (self-donated) SDSCs placed in collagen tubes to bridge gaps in the damaged nerves would restore the continuity of injured nerves and save from amputation the upper arms of a patient with poly-injury to motor and sensory nerves." said study corresponding author Dr. Yvan Torrente, of the Department of Pathophysiology and Transplantation at the University of Milan.

Athersys granted three Japanese patents related to stem cell therapy technology

Athersys announced yesterday that it has been granted three patents from the Japan Patent Office for several inventions involving its proprietary cell therapy technology. Patent No. 5398941 covers non-embryonic, multipotent stem cells, such as MultiStem, and applies to all therapeutic applications. Patent No. 5399709 covers the use of such stem cell therapies for the treatment of immune dysfunctions, such as graft-versus-host disease (GvHD), and inflammatory diseases and autoimmune disorders (e.g., inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)). And, the third patent covers the treatment of brain injuries, such as stroke and traumatic brain injury, with such multipotent stem cells.

Rewiring stem cells

This is a set of chromosomes in
haploid mouse embryonic stem cells.
A fast and comprehensive method for determining the function of genes could greatly improve our understanding of a wide range of diseases and conditions, such as heart disease, liver disease and cancer.

The method uses stem cells with a single set of chromosomes, instead of the two sets found in most cells, to reveal what causes the “circuitry” of stem cells to be rewired as they begin the process of conversion into other cell types. The same method could also be used to understand a range of biological processes.

Researchers grow iPSCs from Alzheimer's biobanked brain tissue

Human Brain
Researchers at The New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF) Research Institute, working in collaboration with scientists at the Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC), have generated for the first time induced pluripotent stem cell lines from non-cryoprotected brain tissue of patients with Alzheimer's disease.

These new stem cell lines will allow researchers to "turn back the clock" and observe how Alzheimer's develops in the brain, potentially revealing the onset of the disease at a cellular level long before any symptoms associated with Alzheimer's are displayed.

These reconstituted Alzheimer's cells will also provide a platform for drug testing on cells from patients that were definitively diagnosed with the disease. Until now, the only available method to definitively diagnose Alzheimer's disease that has been available to researchers is examining the brain of deceased patients. This discovery will permit scientists for the first time to compare "live" brain cells from Alzheimer's patients to the brain cells of other non-Alzheimer's patients.

Researchers create vaccine for cancer stem cells

Researchers at the Cedars-Sinai Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute and Department of Neurosurgery identified immune system targets on cancer stem cells - the cells from which malignant brain tumors are believed to originate and regenerate - and created an experimental vaccine to attack them.

A Phase I safety study in human volunteers with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme, the most common and aggressive brain tumor in adults, is underway.

Erythropoietin and the regulation of cancer stem cell proliferation and survival

In recent years, non-hematopoietic effects of erythropoietin (EPO), via its binding to the EPO receptor in non-hematopoietic tissues, including cancerous tissues, has been reported by many different laboratories worldwide.

However, it remains controversial concerning whether EPO, particularly recombinant EPO that is used to treat anemia in patients, may promote cancer cell proliferation and survival.

In a paper, the authors show evidence indicating the presence of autocrine/paracrine EPO in the conditioned medium of cultured breast cancer cells and a functional role of an EPO-EPOR autocrine/paracrine loop in regulating tumor cell invasion and migration, and the stem-ness of breast cancer cells.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

New insight on embryonic stem cell specialization

Researchers at the University of Copenhagen have gained new insight into how both early embryonic cells and embryonic stem cells are directed into becoming specialized cell types, like pancreatic and liver cells. The study is published in the scientific journal eLife.

This latest research from the Danish Stem Cell Center (Danstem) at the University of Copenhagen, helps identify how stem cells create so called pathways and roads supporting their own specialization. This knowledge is an important step towards stem cell-based cell therapies for conditions like diabetes and liver diseases.

ISCO to present at Biotech Showcase

International Stem Cell Corporation, a California-based biotechnology company developing stem cell based therapies and biomedical products, announced today that Executive Vice President Dr. Simon Craw, will present a corporate overview of ISCO and its subsidiaries at the Biotech Showcase? 2014 on Monday, January 13th at 9:30 a.m. PST. The conference is being held in San Francisco at the Parc 55 Wyndham Union Square Hotel.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Rare combination of myasthenia and ALS treated with mesenchymal stem cell therapy

Mesenchymal Stem Cell
BrainStorm Cell Therapeutics Inc. a developer of adult stem cell technologies for neurodegenerative diseases announced today the upcoming publication of a case report on an individual patient treated with the company’s NurOwn™ cell therapy in "Muscle & Nerve" (John Wiley & Sons).

 The report, which looked at one patient diagnosed with both Myasthenia Gravis (MG) and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) showed significant improvements in both cognitive and motor function following initial and repeat treatments with NurOwn.

The paper describes the rare case of a 75-year old man diagnosed with MG and ALS who was treated with NurOwn cells on a compassionate basis.

 One month after receiving both intrathecal and intramuscular injections of the cells, the patient demonstrated significant improvement in cognition, speech, and muscle power. Initial therapy led to improvement in the ALS Functional Rating Scale (ALSFRS-R), respiratory forced vital capacity (FVC) and cognitive function. Following therapy, the patient’s ability to speak improved from dysarthria to being able to deliver a speech clearly to an audience.

Biomaterials encourage stem cells to become bone-building cells

Shyni Varghese
With the help of biomimetic matrixes, a team of researchers led by bioengineers at the University of California, San Diego has discovered how calcium phosphate coaxes stem cells to become bone-building cells.

UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering professor Shyni Varghese and her colleagues have traced a surprising pathway from these biomaterials to bone formation. They believe that these findings will help them refine the design of biomaterials that encourage stem cells to give rise to new bone.

The researchers say the study may also point out new targets for treating bone defects and bone metabolic disorders such as major fractures and osteoporosis.

Friday, 3 January 2014

New stem cell approach protects from rejection

The researchers developed “humanized” laboratory mice
containing a functional human immune system.
Credit: Zhili Rong, UC San Diego
Biologists at UC San Diego have discovered an effective strategy that could prevent the human immune system from rejecting the grafts derived from human embryonic stem cells, a major problem now limiting the development of human stem cell therapies.

Their discovery may also provide scientists with a better understanding of how tumors evade the human immune system when they spread throughout the body.

The achievement, published in a paper in this week's early online edition of the journal Cell Stem Cell by a collaboration that included scientists from China, was enabled by the development of "humanized" laboratory mice that contained a functional human immune system capable of mounting a vigorous immune rejection of foreign cells derived from human embryonic stem cells.

Stem cell research endorsed by patients

Jeremy Surgarman
A new study by bioethicists at Johns Hopkins University reveals that despite some ethical concerns, patients give induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSCs) research “broad endorsement”.

During focus group discussions patients were largely in favor of participating in iPSC research even if personal benefit was unlikely, though they raised concerns about consent, privacy and transparency when considering donating tissue for this research.

"Bioethicists, as well as stem cell researchers and policy-makers, have discussed the ethical issues of induced pluripotent stem cells at length, but we didn't have any systematic information about what patients think about these issues, and that is a huge part of the equation if the potential of this research is to be fully realized." said Jeremy Sugarman, the senior author of the report.