Stem Cells Pass Safety Test In Vision-Loss Trial

Source: Nature // Photo: Retinal Cells Derived From Embryonic Cells

(MARLBOROUGH, Mass.) — A company that has spent more than 20 years trying to develop treatments based on embryonic stem cells is taking encouragement from small, preliminary tests of the cells in people with progressive vision loss. If the technique continues to impress in larger trials designed to assess its effectiveness, it could become the first therapy derived from embryonic stem cells to reach the market.

A study of four patients, published in Stem Cell Reports on 30 April1, shows that injection of retinal cells derived from stem cells is safe for people with macular degeneration. The report follows similar results from a trial in 18 patients that was published last October2.
Both studies were meant to assess safety only, and neither included a control group. In the latest study, conducted by researchers in Korea and the United States, three participants were able to read 9–19 more letters further on an eye chart a year after treatment — but two of the three also gained some ground in their untreated eyes.

“This bodes well,” says Robert Lanza, chief scientific officer at Ocata Therapeutics in Marlborough, Massachusetts, and an author of the study. “But I think we need to interpret this improvement cautiously until more controlled studies are done.”

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By |April 30th, 2015|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Scientists Find Way To Monitor Stem Cells After Transplantation Into Brain

Source: Stanford University

(STANFORD, Ca.) — Investigators at the Stanford University School of Medicinehave devised a way to monitor neural stem cells after they’ve been transplanted into the brain.
The scientists were able to determine not only whether the stem cells transplanted into living animals survived but whether they matured into nerve cells, integrated into targeted brain circuits and, most important, were firing on cue and igniting activity in downstream nerve circuits.

The new monitoring technique could in principle be used to determine the success of other kinds of stem cell transplantations. It promises in the near term to improve researchers’ ability to optimize stem cell therapies in animal experiments and, in the intermediate term, to speed progress in human trials of stem cell replacement therapy, a promising but problem-plagued medical intervention.

Many disorders of the central nervous system, such as Parkinson’s disease, are characterized by defective nerve cells in specific brain regions. This makes disorders such as Parkinson’s excellent candidates for stem cell therapies, in which the defective nerve cells are replaced. But the experiments in which such procedures have been attempted have met with mixed results, and those conducting the experiments are hard put to explain them. There’s been no good way to evaluate what the transplanted stems cells are doing. So optimizing the regimens becomes a matter of guesswork and luck.

“That’s the key missing step in stem cell therapy design: Once you’ve transplanted the cells, you can’t tell exactly what they’re doing afterwards,” said Jin Hyung Lee, PhD, assistant professor of neurology, of neurosurgery and of bioengineering. In the case of brain-oriented therapies, you have to look for behavioral changes, she said. “And even when you see them, you still don’t know whether the newly transplanted cells integrated into the right brain circuits and are now functioning correctly there.”

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By |April 30th, 2015|Uncategorized|0 Comments

New Study Finds Stem Cell Therapy via Intra-Carotid Artery Infusion Safe for Treatment of Stroke

Source: HealthCanal

(MIAMI, Fla.) — A yearlong study of patients who had suffered from ischemic strokes, led by physician-scientists at the Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute at the Miller School of Medicine, has found that stem cells can be safely infused to the brain through the carotid artery within two weeks after a stroke.

The national co-principal investigator of the study, Dileep R. Yavagal, M.D., associate professor of neurology at the Miller School, presented the discovery abstract of the RECOVER-Stroke trial entitled Intra-Arterial Delivery of Autologous ALDHbr Cells in Ischemic Stroke: Final 1-Year Results of the RECOVER-Stroke Trial at the European Stroke Organization Conference, in the UK. The findings provide new hope for future stroke treatments as well as for other brain-related illnesses.

“We are excited by the findings of the new study as it offers promise for stroke victims and for those with other neurological conditions,” says Yavagal, who is also Director of Interventional Neurology, Co-Director of Endovascular Neurology, associate professor of neurological surgery and a member of the Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute. “Previous thought was that stem cell use for brain conditions could lead to worsening stroke or even brain cancer. The conclusions of our research prove that stem cells are safe when given through the carotid artery with a small catheter to treat neurological illnesses, and we can continue to explore the efficacy of stem cells for treatments.”

After a full year of stem cell injections, no increased serious adverse effects were detected in any patients. Specifically, no ischemia-related neurologic worsening was seen as a result of the intra-carotid infusion of stem cells. The intra-arterial approach for cell delivery is worth pursuing for cell-based stroke therapy in future larger studies.

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By |April 28th, 2015|Uncategorized|0 Comments

More Power To The Mitochondria: Cells’ Energy Plant Also Plays Key Role In Stem Cell Development

Source: Medicalexpress.com; NYU School of Medicine / Photo: Mitochondria (credit: Wikipedia commons)

(NEW YORK, N.Y.) — Researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center have discovered that mitochondria, the major energy source for most cells, also play an important role in stem cell development—a purpose notably distinct from the tiny organelle’s traditional job as the cell’s main source of the adenosine triphosphate (ATP) energy needed for routine cell metabolism.

Specifically, the NYU Langone team found that blocking the action of the mitochondrial ATP synthase enzyme stalled egg cell development from stem cells in experiments in fruit flies, one of the main organisms used to study cell biology.

In further experiments with the flies, the research team found that ATP synthase was essential to normal stem cell development, directly controlling the growth and maintenance of the inner membranes inside mitochondria, called cristae, as the cells continue to divide and form the specific cell components that make up an egg, or female germ cell.

The study findings are to be published in the journal Nature Cell Biology online April 27.

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By |April 27th, 2015|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Self-Assembling Biomaterial Forms Nanostructure Templates for Human Tissue Formation

Source: HealthCanal / Image: Self assembling peptide amphiphiles

(READING, U.K.) – Unlike scaffold-based methods to engineer human tissues for regenerative medicine applications, an innovative synthetic material with the ability to self-assemble into nanostructures to support tissue growth and ultimately degrade offers a promising new approach to deliver cell and tissue therapies.

The unique properties of this biofunctional coating that enable it to stimulate and direct the formation of complex tissues are described in an article in Tissue Engineering, Part A, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is available free on the Tissue Engineering website.

In “New Self-Assembling Multifunctional Templates for the Biofabrication and Controlled Self-Release of Cultured Tissue,” Ricardo Gouveia, Valeria Castelletto, Ian Hamley and Che Connon, University of Reading Whiteknights Campus, Reading, and Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, U.K., discuss how a novel synthetic material comprised of peptide amphiphile molecules is able to form a bioactive coating that interacts with cells in the surrounding environment and initiates a signaling cascade resulting in the formation of complex three-dimensional tissue structures that are then released from the coating.

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By |April 27th, 2015|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Prenatal Stem Cell Treatment Improves Mobility Issues Caused By Spina Bifida

Source: Healthcanal / Image: Dr. Diana Farmer and UC Davis team

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) – The lower-limb paralysis associated with spina bifida may be effectively treated before birth by combining a unique stem cell therapy with surgery, new research from UC Davis Health System has found.

Diana Farmer (front), a pioneer in fetal surgery, and her research team are testing placental stem cells as a treatment for the paralysis associated with spina bifida.

The study, conducted in an animal model, was led by Diana Farmer, the fetal surgeon who helped pioneer in uterotreatment for spina bifida — a congenital birth defect that occurs when the spinal cord does not close properly, leading to lifelong cognitive, urological, musculoskeletal and motor disabilities. Farmer’s chief collaborator was Aijun Wang, co-director of the UC Davis Surgical Bioengineering Laboratory.

“Prenatal surgery revolutionized spina bifida treatment by improving brain development, but it didn’t benefit motor function as much as we hoped,” said Farmer, chair of the UC Davis Department of Surgery and senior author of the study, published online today inStem Cells Translational Medicine.

“We now think that when it’s augmented with stem cells, fetal surgery could actually be a cure,” said Wang.

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By |April 25th, 2015|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Dead Feeder Cells Support Stem Cell Growth

Source: Phys.org / Image: Stem cells grow with live (a) or dead (b) feeder cells (credit: Kiralise Silve/UTEP)

(EL PASO, Texas) — Stem cells naturally cling to feeder cells as they grow in petri dishes. Scientists have thought for years that this attachment occurs because feeder cells serve as a support system, providing stems cells with essential nutrients.

But a new study that successfully grew stem cells with dead, or fixed, feeder cells suggests otherwise.

The discovery, described in the Journal of Materials Chemistry B, challenges the theory that feeder cells provide nutrients to growing stem cells. It also means that the relationship between the two cells is superficial, according to Binata Joddar, Ph.D., a biomedical engineer at The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP).

“We’ve proved an important phenomenon,” said Joddar, who runs UTEP’s Inspired Materials and Stem-Cell Based Tissue Engineering Lab. “And it suggests that these feeder cells, which are difficult to grow, may not be important at all for stem cell growth.”

In the study, feeder cells were chemically fixed before living stem cells were placed in the same dish. Like organs that are preserved with formaldehyde, this kept the feeder cells’ physical appearance the same, but essentially killed them.

Even though the feeder cells were dead, the stem cells still latched on and grew successfully.

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By |April 24th, 2015|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Tisch MS Research Center Of New York Reports Early Improvement In Stem Cell Trial

Source: PRNews/Tisch MS Research Center / Photo: Scientist from Tisch MSRCNY preparing stem cells for injection into a patient with MS

(NEW YORK, NY) — Tisch MS Research Center of New York (Tisch MSRCNY) today announced encouraging preliminary results from its FDA-approved Phase I trial using autologous neural stem cells in the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS). MS is a chronic autoimmune disease of the central nervous system where the myelin sheath is attacked and neurodegeneration may occur. It affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide. The significant results were selected for presentation during theMultiple Sclerosis Highlights in the Field session at the 67th American Academy of Neurology (AAN) Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.

Tisch MSRCNY research showed that in the interim analysis, six of nine patients are exhibiting increased motor strength, improved bladder function and an enhanced quality of life. Importantly, the treatments are well tolerated and thus far no serious adverse events were reported.

“This preliminary data is encouraging because in addition to helping establish safety and tolerability, the trial is yielding some positive therapeutic results even at this early stage,” said Dr. Saud A. Sadiq, Chief Research Scientist at Tisch MSRCNY and the study’s principal investigator. He cautioned however, that these results are an interim analysis and definitive conclusions will only be made upon completion of the trial.

The study investigates a pioneering regenerative strategy using stem cells harvested from the patient’s own bone marrow. These stem cells are injected intrathecally (into the cerebrospinal fluid surrounding the spinal cord) in 20 participants who meet the inclusion criteria for the trial. The interim analysis reports on the first nine patients that have received at least one treatment of stem cells.

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By |April 23rd, 2015|Uncategorized|0 Comments

New Under-the-Skin Technique for Islet and Stem Cell Transplants to Treat Diabetes and Other Diseases

Source: Health Canal / Photo: Human pancreatic adult islet, courtesy UNSW

(EDMONTON, Alberta, Canada) — James Shapiro, one of the world’s leading experts in emerging treatments of diabetes, can’t help but be excited about his latest research. The results, he says, could soon mark a new standard for treatment—not only for diabetes, but for several other diseases as well.

Shapiro, Canada Research Chair in Transplantation Surgery and Regenerative Medicine in the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, and Andrew Pepper, a post-doctoral fellow working in his lab, are the lead authors in a study published in the April 20 edition of the journal Nature Biotechnology. In the study, the authors describe developing a new site for islet transplantation under the skin, which they believe will offer less risk and far greater health benefits for patients.

Islet transplantation is a procedure that temporarily allows people with severe diabetes to stop taking insulin.

While the new transplant approach offers several benefits to diabetes patients, the researchers are equally excited by how it may be applied to other illnesses. Shapiro says his team is also testing its use in stem cell transplantations—which, if successful, could safely open the door to allow for assessment of emerging stem cell treatments.

“Until now it has been nearly impossible for transplanted cells to function reliably when placed beneath the skin,” says Shapiro. “In these studies, we have harnessed the body’s natural ability to respond to a foreign body by growing new enriching blood vessels. By controlling this reaction, we have successfully and reliably reversed diabetes in our preclinical models. This approach is new and especially exciting as it opens up a new world of opportunities, not only in diabetes, but also across the board in regenerative medicine.”

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By |April 23rd, 2015|Uncategorized|0 Comments

How Stem Cells Prevent Release of Degradative Fluids That Lead To Arthritis

Source: The Examiner

(LAS VEGAS, Nevada) — Injury to joint tissues used to be thought of in primarily mechanical terms. Torn ligaments led to instability; a torn meniscus led to arthritis, both from the window wiper effect of the tissue in the joint and the force concentration from losing the shock absorber; impact injuries led to bone and cartilage death.

We now understand that this thinking was far too narrow. Papers presented at the 29th Meniscus Transplant Study Group meeting recently in Las Vegas demonstrated that when a meniscus tissue is torn, pro-arthritis enzymes and factors are released, which stimulate the synovial lining cells of the joint to go into overdrive. The tissues talk to each other. They are biologically, not just mechanically, active.

The enzymes and factors released into a joint after injury produce a degradative fluid. Degradative means that the compounds break down tissue, inhibit healing, cause swelling, and eventually arthritis. When people complain of joint swelling, the fluid is degradative and leads to more injury over time. Healing occurs when the swelling resolves and the body lays down new tissues.

This new biologic understanding of tissue injury is now leading to novel approaches to repair. Most importantly, injured tissues need prompt repair. Left unrepaired, they continue to stimulate the surrounding tissues, leading to the cycle of breakdown and arthritis.

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By |April 22nd, 2015|Uncategorized|0 Comments