360 Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine Newsletter - August 19, 2014

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360 Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine Newsletter - August 19, 2014

Featured video from Harvard Stem Cell Institute: The HSCI Internship Program: Promise's Story
Paying Forward the Gift of Life: Jorge and Leslie Bacardi
“After growing up with malaria, Promise Okeke left Nigeria three years ago to study medicine at Augsburg College. Despite enjoying biological research, he felt a stronger need to make a social impact on the malaria epidemic. As a participant in the Harvard Stem Cell Institute Internship Program, Promise networked with Harvard entrepreneurs and professors as he began to explore a different path--the business side of healthcare.” 

Knoepfler blog: Challenge could cancel Yamanaka iPS cell patent
Congratulations to Dr. Paul Knoepfler for breaking this story. There are potential global implications should the patent be overturned. The comments to the posting are also interesting, as readers speculate as to the mysterious patent challenger. Editor’s comment: Why hasn’t the mainstream biotechnology and scientific press picked up this story?
The World Today: Australian scientists accidentally make one of the most significant discoveries in stem cell research- how HSC’s are formed
It was well reported that Australian researchers studying zebrafish uncovered the mystery of how hematopoietic stem cells (HSC), a critical type of stem cell found in blood and bone marrow, and essential to replenishing the body’s supply of blood and immune cells, is formed. The linked article by journalist Mandi Sami includes comments by Peter Currie, the lead researcher at Monash University. The findings were reported in the journal Nature.
UC San Diego: Dramatic growth of grafted stem cells in rat spinal cord injuries
According to a UC San Diego media release, scientists at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Veteran’s Affairs San Diego Healthcare System have discovered that neurons derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) and grafted into rats after a spinal cord injury produced cells with tens of thousands of axons extending virtually the entire length of the animals’ central nervous system. While neural stem cell therapies are already advancing to clinical trials, one of the researchers raised cautionary notes about moving to human therapy too quickly. According to Dr. Mark Tuszynski, “Ninety-five percent of human clinical trials fail. We are trying to do as much as we possibly can to identify the best way of translating neural stem cell therapies for spinal cord injury to patients. It’s easy to forge ahead with incomplete information, but the risk of doing so is greater likelihood of another failed clinical trial. We want to determine as best we can the optimal cell type and best method for human translation so that we can move ahead rationally and, with some luck, successfully.” The findings were published in the online edition of Neuron.
Wyss Institute: Tissue development 'roadmap' created to guide stem cell medicine
According to a media release, scientists at Boston Children's Hospital, the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University and Boston University created a computer algorithm called CellNet to serve as a "roadmap" for cell and tissue engineering, to ensure that cells engineered in the lab have the same favorable properties as cells in our own bodies. CellNet and its application to stem cell engineering are described in two back-to-back papers in the journal Cell.
The Boston Globe: Dr. Charles Vacanti the Brigham researcher in flawed STAP stem cell study will step down
Boston researcher, Dr. Charles A. Vacanti who oversaw a discredited study that described a simple method for creating stem cells will step down from his position as chairman of the anesthesiology department at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and take a one-year sabbatical. A hospital spokeswoman said that, “Vacanti’s decision was not related to the furor that has surrounded the stem cell method that originated from his research.” Editor’s comment: All things considered, the sabbatical seems like a really good idea.
ABNA (Iran)- Royan should become global brand: Rouhani
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani visited the Royan Institute. He reiterated government support stating that the institute for infertility, cloning, and stem cell technology, “should become a ‘global brand’ so that when the name Royan is inscribed on any goods, the people trust it.” The Royan Institute for Reproductive Biomedicine, Stem Cell Biology and Technology is a leading Iranian biomedical research center involved in stem cell technology and regenerative medicine established in 1991.
Russia Beyond the Headlines: Stem cells in Russia: panacea or illusion?
This article surveys the current state of stem cell banking in Russia. Among the more startling factoids: “The technology of applying stem cells in Russia was developed for the Defense Ministry. The research was initially confidential. During the Soviet War in Afghanistan scientists tried using stem cells for curing psychological war traumas.”
Details of Novartis investment in Gamida Cell revealed
In a media release, Elbit Imaging Ltd revealed that Novartis will invest $35 million in Gamida Cell in exchange for approximately 15% of Gamida Cell's share capital and an option to purchase the holdings of the other shareholders in the company. Future payments could reach a total of $435 million, depending on certain development and regulatory milestones and on sales of Gamida Cell's products.
Cryoprinting red blood cells: Akron Biotech and Stanford University collaborative study
An innovative approach of cryopreserving red blood cells using vitrification in conjunction with bio-printing technologies has been described in a collaborative study published in Advanced Materials. The study, led by Dr. Utkan Demirci, is a collaboration involving scientists from Stanford University School of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Case Western Reserve University, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and Akron Biotechnology.
BioNews Texas: Texas Biomedical Research Institute (TBRI) awarded $2.7 million grant to discover new genetic research methods
San Antonio-based TBRI received a research grant worth $2.7 million from the U.S. National Institutes of Health. The funding will contribute to their work on novel research methods for genetics that are geared towards advancing new treatment options for cardiovascular diseases strongly linked with genetic inheritance.
Reuters: U.S. government (BARDA) extends contract with Cytori for burn treatment
The U.S. government has extended a contract with Cytori Therapeutics to develop an autologous cell-derived treatment for burns, according to a company media release. “The government's Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) will provide up to $20.4 million to fund early development and costs associated with a clinical trial. The contract is part of BARDA's national preparedness initiative to prepare in the event of mass casualties, including the involvement of burns.”
Editor’s note: I have the privilege to speak this week at the “Rejuvenation Biotechnology Conference: Emerging Regenerative Medicine Solutions for Diseases of Aging” on August 21-23 at the Santa Clara Hyatt Regency Hotel in Santa Clara, California. I urge 360 newsletter readers to attend this highly informative conference organized by Dr. Aubrey de Grey and the SENS Research Foundation. For more information, see www.sens.org/RB2014

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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