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: / 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

Researchers at the Broad Center Announce More Effective Development Of Motor Neurons From Embryonic Stem Cells

Source: Medical Express

(LOS ANGELES, Ca.) — Often described as the final frontier of biology, the nervous system is a complex network comprised of the brain, spinal cord and the nerves that run through the body. Published today by scientists led by Bennett Novitch, Ph.D. at the Eli & Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA, new research using embryonic stem cells enhances the study of this intricate and perplexing system. Such discoveries are vital to the understanding and treatment of devastating disorders such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (commonly known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease) and spinal muscular atrophy, which are caused by the loss or degeneration of motor neurons – the nerves that control muscle movement.

The research, which provides a more efficient way to study the functions of motor neuron diseases through the power of stem cells, was published online today by the journal Nature Communications.

Voluntary muscle movement—such as breathing, speaking, walking and fine motor skills—is controlled by several different subtypes of motor neurons. Originating in the spinal cord, motor neurons carry signals from the brain to muscles throughout the body. Loss of motor neuron function causes several neurological disorders for which treatment has been hindered by the inability to produce enough of the different kinds of motor neurons to accurately model and potentially treat neurodegenerative diseases, as well as spinal cord injuries. Specifically, efforts to produce ‘limb-innervating’ motor neurons in the lab were only about 3 percent effective. This special subtype of motor neuron supplies nerves to the arms and legs and is most acutely affected by motor neuron diseases such as ALS.

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

ALS Stem Cell Treatment Shows Effectiveness in Trial

Source: Newsmax

(WASHINGTON, DC) – Israel’s BrainStorm Cell Therapeutics said a mid-stage clinical trial of its adult stem cell treatment showed a “statistically significant” effect in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

According to the ALS Association, 5,600 people in the United States are diagnosed each year with the neurodegenerative disease, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, which has severely disabled British physicist Stephen Hawking.

New data presented at the American Academy of Neurology annual meeting in Washington, DC on April 18 [2015] showed that six months after a single administration of the stem cell treatment called NurOwn there was a statistically significant improvement in the rate of decline in Forced Vital Capacity, which measures the amount of air a person can dispense from the lungs.

There was also improvement in the rate of decline in the ALS Functional Rating Score, which tests 12 different functions.

In addition, patients who received NurOwn through an intramuscular injection showed an improvement in the rate of decline in muscle mass in the right arm, the site of NurOwn administration, as compared to the left arm.

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By |April 21st, 2015|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Discovery of New Stem Cell Type Reported


(COLUMBIA, Mo.) — Researchers at the University of Missouri are reporting the discovery of a new type of stem cell that has the ability to transform into a larger number of cell types than either human embryonic (hESCs) or induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs).

This novel stem cell line, created from the addition of a factor known as bone morphogenetic protein (BMP)4 to human pluripotent stem cells (PSCs), is totipotent, meaning the stem cells can not only make all the cells of the embryo but also other cells, including those of the placenta, which are needed to support a developing embryo.

Michael Roberts, professor of animal science at the University of Missouri, USA, and lead author of the study, said: ‘BMP-primed cells represent a transitional stage of development between embryonic stem cells and their ultimate developmental fate, whether that is placenta cells, or skin cells or brain cells.

‘We can use these new stem cells for future research to better understand how embryos are organized and what causes diseases like pre-eclampsia and other prenatal problems.’

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By |April 20th, 2015|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Case Western Identifies Drugs That Activate Brain Stem Cells To Reverse Multiple Sclerosis

Source: Case Western Reserve School of Medicine / Photo: Medical Campus

(CLEVELAND, Ohio) — A pair of topical medicines already alleviating skin conditions each may prove to have another, even more compelling use: instructing stem cells in the brain to reverse damage caused by multiple sclerosis.

Led by researchers at Case Western Reserve, a multi-institutional team used a new discovery approach to identify drugs that could activate mouse and human brain stem cells in the laboratory. The two most potent drugs – one that currently treats athlete’s foot, and the other, eczema – were capable of stimulating the regeneration of damaged brain cells and reversing paralysis when administered systemically to animal models of multiple sclerosis. The results are published online ( Monday, April 20, in the scientific journal Nature.

“We know that there are stem cells throughout the adult nervous system that are capable of repairing the damage caused by multiple sclerosis, but until now, we had no way to direct them to act,” said Paul Tesar, PhD, the Dr. Donald and Ruth Weber Goodman Professor of Innovative Therapeutics, and associate professor in the Department of Genetics & Genome Sciences at the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine. “Our approach was to find drugs that could catalyze the body’s own stem cells to replace the cells lost in multiple sclerosis.”

The findings mark the most promising developments to date in efforts to help the millions of people around the world who suffer from multiple sclerosis. The disease is the most common chronic neurological disorder among young adults, and results from aberrant immune cells destroying the protective coating, called myelin, around nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.

Without myelin, neural signals cannot be transmitted properly along nerves; over time, a patient’s ability to walk, hold a cup or even see is inexorably eroded. Current multiple sclerosis therapies aim to slow further myelin destruction by the immune system, but the Case Western Reserve team used a new approach to create new myelin within the nervous system. Their work offers great promise of developing therapies that reverse disabilities caused by multiple sclerosis or similar neurological disorders.

“To replace damaged cells, much of the stem cell field has focused on direct transplantation of stem cell-derived tissues for regenerative medicine, and that approach is likely to provide enormous benefit down the road,” said Tesar, also a New York Stem Cell Foundation Robertson Investigator and member of the National Center for Regenerative Medicine. “But here we asked if we could find a faster and less invasive approach by using drugs to activate native stem cells already in the adult nervous system and direct them to form new myelin. Our ultimate goal was to enhance the body’s ability to repair itself.”

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By |April 20th, 2015|Uncategorized|0 Comments