360 Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine Newsletter- April 23, 2015

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360 Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine Newsletter - April 23, 2015

Featured Video from Mayo Clinic: Regenerating Heart Tissue Through Stem Cell Therapy

Andre Terzic, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine, and Atta Behfar, M.D., Ph.D., director of the center's Cardiac Regeneration Program, discuss the ways that stem cells are transforming health care. The growing pandemic of chronic diseases — heart failure, diabetes, cancer and pulmonary disorders — represents a major challenge for global health. Regenerative medicine, which uses natural and engineered reparative tools to restore damaged tissue and function, offers a possible cure by restoring the structure and function of damaged organs. Mayo Clinic, a co-organizing partner of the upcoming 2015 World Stem Cell Summit in Atlanta, December 10-12, established the Center for Regenerative Medicine to generate new knowledge of disease causes and cures and bring next-generation solutions to clinical practice.

World Stem Cell Summit

Nature: Chinese Scientists Genetically Modify Human Embryos- Rumors of germline modification prove true — and look set to reignite an ethical debate
“In a world first, Chinese scientists have reported editing the genomes of human embryos. The results are published in the online journal Protein & Cell and confirm widespread rumors that such experiments had been conducted—rumors that sparked a high-profile debate last month about the ethical implications of such work.

In the paper, researchers led by Junjiu Huang, a gene-function researcher at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, tried to head off such concerns by using 'non-viable' embryos, which cannot result in a live birth, that were obtained from local fertility clinics. The team attempted to modify the gene responsible for β-thalassaemia, a potentially fatal blood disorder, using a gene-editing technique known as CRISPR/Cas9. The researchers say that their results reveal serious obstacles to using the method in medical applications.”

360 Editor’s comment: The public debate over human germline modification has barely begun and we have this report from China. Scientists, industry and ethicists will not be able to do very much to sway public opinion either way. Public engagement is the key. Will the powerful patient advocacy community unite to lobby for a moratorium or will some patients see this technology as a salvation? Is patient community even invited into the debate? What about the realm of geopolitics? Certain nations may be seeking “biotechnology supremacy.” If so, will germline modification be fully debated in the United Nations? Where stands the social conservative movement? Will the controversy reignite another round of the “embryo wars”- the societal battle about the use of human embryos in medical research? How vested is the “Green” or environmental lobby in stopping human germline modification. Will lawmakers and regulators even be able to catch up to the science? Dare we mention the sledgehammer topic of “ eugenics”- or is that an unwelcome, archaic or forbidden discussion?

Mayo Clinic

The Daily (Case Western)- Drugs Stimulate Body’s Stem Cells to Replace the Brain Cells Lost in Multiple Sclerosis
“A pair of topical medicines already alleviating skin conditions 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 University, 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 were published online in the scientific journal Nature.

Wake Forest

The Japan Times: Kyoto University, Takeda Join Hands on iPS Cell Venture
“Kyoto University’s iPS cell research institute and Takeda Pharmaceutical Co are launching a 10-year, ¥20 billion joint program to focus on regenerative medicine and drug discovery using iPS cells. Professor Shinya Yamanaka, a Nobel laureate who heads the Center for iPS Cell Research Application, will direct the program while Takeda provides funding and research facilities. About 100 researchers equally contributed by the institute and the drugmaker will work on multiple research projects at Takeda’s Shonan Research Center in Fujisawa near Tokyo. Potential initial projects will include heart failure, diabetes mellitus, neuro-psychiatric disorders and cancer immunotherapy.”

Editor’s note: Do the math. This is a major collaboration.


UGA Today: University of Georgia Researcher Works to Build ‘Missing’ Bone for Children Suffering from HPP
“The rare disease hypophosphatasia (HPP), can have devastating and life-threatening consequences on the children. Stillbirth is not uncommon and long-term survival is rare. A UGA researcher proposes delivering bone-targeted mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) therapy. Using animal modeling, scientists will design engineered MSC’s with the assistance of laser microscope tracking to target therapeutic sites in the bone marrow. These newly transplanted stem cells will then conceivably reproduce new cells.” This work is being done at the Regenerative Bioscience Center at the University of Georgia linking researchers and resources collaborating in a wide range of disciplines to develop new cures for the devastating diseases. With its potential restorative powers, regenerative medicine could offer new ways of treating diseases for which there are currently no treatments-including heart disease, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and stroke. The RBC is a collaboration geared toward identifying regenerative solutions for numerous medical conditions that affect both animals and people. For more information, see www.rbc.uga.edu.


International Business Times: Stem Cell Injection Repairs Damage to London Man's Heart After Attack- From Hip to Heart
“Barts NHS Trust is involved in the world's biggest trial of stem cell therapy for heart attack patients. The patient was one of an early small pilot group to receive the treatment. The first set of results are positive and the trial is now being rolled out to 21 research center in 11 European countries, and is set to help thousands more patients. The research received funding from the Heart Cells Foundation. The goal in the UK will be to win approval for the treatment for use throughout the NHS.”


Yale News: Connecticut Celebrates a Decade of Research Advances at StemConn2015
“State scientists will gather Monday, April 27 at the Hartford Marriott to celebrate stem cell and regenerative medicine research successes at StemConn2015 since passage of the law — one of four passed by states legislatures to support stem cell research. More than 86 Yale faculty members are involved in some form of stem cell research, which since 2007 has been supported at Yale by more than $243 million in state and federal grants and private foundations. Yale stem cell researchers have published 265 papers exploring a host of medical and scientific questions, from the origins of leukemia to the molecular basis of hair growth.”


Miami Herald: University of Miami Stem Cell Research Could Grow Bone, Potentially Treat Obesity
A new stem cell study conducted at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine has isolated a trigger in stem cells that could be the key to growing bone and combating conditions like osteoporosis and obesity. The study in mice is the culmination of years of work to define a specific biochemical switch that determines whether stem cells become bone or fat. The discovery, led by the Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute at UM, focused on mesenchymal stem cells, which are found in the bone marrow. “We could pin it down to a specific amino acid on a specific protein,” said Dr. Joshua Hare, founding director of the institute and senior author on the study. “This was a really exciting and elegant body of work.”

Crain’s Cleveland Business: Athersys' Stroke Clinical Trial Yields Disappointing Results
Dr. Gil Van Bokkelen, chairman and CEO of Athersys, said in a statement, "While the trial did not achieve the primary or its component secondary endpoints, we believe the evidence indicating that patients who received MultiStem treatment early appeared to exhibit meaningfully better recovery is very important and promising.” He said the results “appear to confirm that our window of intervention with MultiStem therapy may extend well beyond the limits of current care. Additional key observations from the trial also appear consistent with key elements of our initial hypothesis. In particular, we are encouraged by the reduced mortality and lower incidence of infections, pulmonary events and life threatening adverse events among MultiStem-treated patients, as well as the limited biomarker data we have seen so far.”


360 Editor’s Commentary- Remembering Stem Cell Advocate Al Taubman’s Lasting Legacy

The headline of the Detroit Free Press article this week reads “Taubman funneled money, passion into stem cell research- Mogul hoped to help find a cure for ALS.” Al Taubman died last week at age 91. Truly a larger- than- life character. According to the inside cover of his extremely candid autobiography “Threshold Resistance” he is described as “a dyslexic Jewish kid from Detroit (who) grew up to be a billionaire retailing pioneer, an intimate of European aristocrats and Palm beach socialites, a respected philanthropist and at age 78, a federal prisoner.”

I first encountered the Taubman philanthropic legacy when visiting the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in 2010. The Taubman name was displayed on numerous buildings and laboratories evidencing his great devotion and generosity to his beloved university and the cause of human health. To my interest was the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute, led by the brilliant Dr. Eva Feldman, doing pathfinding stem cell research. The more I explored Michigan’s incredible healthcare and life sciences infrastructure I saw the Taubman influence everywhere.

My organization, the Genetics Policy Institute (GPI) recognized Mr. Taubman with the ‘Stem Cell Action- National Advocacy Award” at the 2010 World Stem Cell Summit in Detroit. We described his contribution, as follows: “A. Alfred Taubman’s visionary leadership has resulted in the establishment of the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute at the University of Michigan, which is doing innovative stem cell research focusing on developing treatments for ALS, cancer and a host of other medical conditions. His support for Michigan Citizens for Stem Cell Research and Cures and Cure Michigan made the critical difference in ending the restrictive legislation governing stem cell research in the state.”

The Taubman Foundation supported the “Stem Cell Education Public Day at the Detroit Science Center” preceding the Summit that was free learning experience for 1,000 attendees, including many children. Mr. Taubman added his personal touch to the Summit events, attending the public day, appearing on the program and sitting in the front row during all the plenary sessions. He was always personally engaging, interested and certainly looking for full return on his investment! I think his most lasting legacy will be his vigorous support for stem cell research that will lead to cures and the alleviation of human misery from curse of chronic disease.

360 Newsletter Editor

Bernard Siegel
Executive Director
Genetics Policy Institute

Stem Cells and the Transformative Power of Hope-a TEDx talk by Bernard Siegel, Editor of 360 Newsletter

About GPI

The nonprofit Genetics Policy Institute (GPI) seeks to establish a positive policy, regulatory and societal framework to enable research to flourish, under the highest ethical and medical standards. We seek to accelerate the discovery and development of lifesaving cures and therapies to alleviate human suffering due to chronic and terminal afflictions. Visit Website.

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Genetics Policy Institute (GPI) and the Regenerative Medicine Foundation (RMF) Announce Merger Plan

Domain: Medical
Category: Biology

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