|Featured Video : A tour of Catapult facilities in the UK |
“The Cell Therapy Catapult vision is for the UK to be a global leader in the development, delivery and commercialization of cell therapy. Where businesses can start, grow and confidently develop cell therapies, delivering them to patients rapidly, efficiently and effectively. The Catapult mission is to grow the industry in the UK to substantial and sustainable levels.”
|San Francisco Business Times: California stem cell institute unveils 'CIRM 2.0' |
According to CIRM CEO, Dr. Randy Mills, “delays equals deaths.” Hence, the stem cell agency imperative launching CIRM 2.0. According to the Business Times, “The plan centers on radically shortening the amount of time it takes for CIRM to get cash into the hands of companies doing research. CIRM's rigorous grant and loan review process — including financial screening, an external scientific advisory board and full CIRM board approval — takes nearly two years on average. CIRM 2.0 is designed to cut that decision time to 90 days by creating three buckets of programs — late-stage preclinical products, clinical stage projects and follow-on funding for projects that need a boost — for which applications are taken monthly rather than in bulk. CIRM also would accelerate the review process, though it wasn't clear in an agency document outlining the plan how that would be done. Applicants today must pass through a couple of reviews, including a scientific review by other researchers.”
|Washington Post: The shameful final chapter for one of Japan’s most promising stem cell scientists |
Bringing down the curtain on the STAP debacle, Riken’s Haruko Obokata admitted that she was unable to replicate her claim of a revolutionary acid- bath method for producing pluripotent stem cells. According to the Post article, “The collateral damage has been immense. In the weeks after the full breadth of the fraudulent work became clear, several prominent Japanese researchers resigned in disgrace. Then Obokata’s mentor, a taciturn but brilliant scientist named Yoshiki Sasai, killed himself, depriving the scientific community of someone doing stunning research in the creation of human eyes with stem cells.”
Read what The Japan Times has to report here.
|The Boston Globe: Doctor in stem-cell probe sues Brigham, Harvard. Piero Anversa calls investigation flawed. |
Dr. Piero Anversa of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and his colleague, Dr. Annaversa Leri, filed a federal lawsuit seeking damages against Brigham, Harvard Medical School, Partner’s Healthcare System, Dr. Elizabeth Nabel and Dean Gretchen Brodnicki. The conflict centers on the high stakes field of stem cells and cardiovascular disease and the institutions’ investigation into plaintiffs alleged misconduct and fabrication of data. The plaintiffs attack the motives and substance of the investigation. It is well known that the best defense is a good offense. Take a look at the actual complaint, linked here. A jury may ultimately decide who is right.
|MIT Technology Review: Who Owns the Biggest Biotech Discovery of the Century? There’s a bitter fight over the patents for CRISPR, a breakthrough new form of DNA editing. |
To understand how great lab discoveries are transformed into medicine, one must have a basic understanding of the world of intellectual property. Planning to commercialize? Hire the best patent lawyer you can find! Biotechnology journalist Antonio Regalado explains the fascinating patent terrain involving the powerful CRISPR gene editing technology. “No CRISPR drug yet exists. But if CRISPR turns out as important as scientists hope, commercial control over the underlying technology could be worth billions.”
|Nature: European court clears way for stem-cell patents- |
A ruling from the European Court of Justice lifts 2011 ban on patenting embryonic stem cells made from unfertilized human eggs
Good news for fans of parthenogenesis and the shareholders of International Stem Cell Corporation. Europe’s highest court has ruled that human embryonic stem cells made from unfertilized eggs can be patented — on the basis that they lack a capacity to turn into human beings. It is now up to the UK courts to make the final determination whether the cells generated by International Stem Cell Corporation qualify for patent protection. The EU court ruling may have broader application to the legality of patenting of cells made utilizing nuclear transfer techniques.
|Stanford Medicine: Stem cells faulty in Duchenne muscular dystrophy |
“Like human patients, mice with a form of Duchenne muscular dystrophy undergo progressive muscle degeneration and accumulate connective tissue as they age. Now, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have found that the fault may lie at least partly in the stem cells that surround the muscle fibers.”
“Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a devastating disease that affects about 1 in every 3,600 boys born in the United States. Patients usually experience severe, progressive muscle weakness that confines them to a wheelchair in early adolescence and eventually leads to paralysis. It’s caused by mutations in the dystrophin gene, which encodes the dystrophin protein.” The research was reported in Science Translational Medicine.
|U-T San Diego: Pancreatic grafts made immune-tolerant. Diabetics may benefit from success in mice. |
Researchers including scientists from San Diego based Viacyte claim to have engineered immune tolerance to pancreatic tissue derived from human embryonic stem cells grafted into humanized mouse models. The research, published in the journal Cell Stem Cell, is ultimately aimed at finding a cure for Type 1 diabetes. However, translating this research into patient therapy remains a heavy lift. Among other obstacles, the study sets forth that “the autoimmune response that causes Type 1 diabetes will also need to be brought under control.”
|Bangkok Post: Raids in Thailand target 4 stem cell beauty clinics |
According to the Bangkok Post, health authorities raided four beauty clinics in Bangkok, charging practitioners with carrying out substandard medical procedures. The clinics are alleged to be making misleading claims for their stem cell “treatments.”
|U-T San Diego: Can scientists clone a rhinoceros? |
Future shock! Dr. Jeanne Loring is part of a team seeking to clone a rhino, envisioning a day when a herd of new northern white rhinos, born of nature and science, could repopulate their native land. Loring said, “It makes me feel that my skills as a scientist have more power than I had imagined. If I can both cure humans of disease and rescue endangered species, how great is that?”
|Editor’s note: The GPI team of Alan Fernandez, Joey Dawson, Mara Leventhal, Jerry Frenz and myself wish all of our wonderful readers a very healthy and happy holiday season! |
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The 360 Newsletter presents a unique (and very personal) point of view. GPI is at the intersection of science, industry, law, policy, media and patients. We report nearly every week those items found in the media that we believe useful and relevant to the broadest community. The weekly video attempts to take us into labs, introduce some science and provide additional context and understanding. Taken as a “whole cloth”, we hope that the 360 has provided useful information and helped you, our valued readership, with a tool to accomplish your goals.
The community is well represented in the LinkedIN group Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine. I serve as a manager of the group. Please consider posting comments there.
You can directly send me comments, tips and complaints at Bernard@genpol.org.
Peace and joy to all!
Bernard Siegel, J.D.
Founder and Co-Chair, World Stem Cell Summit
Executive Director, Genetics Policy Institute