Stem Cell News 11/7/2012

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Stem cells good for the heart: An NIH-funded University of Miami study published in JAMA this week suggested that stem cell injections into human heart muscle significantly reduced scar tissue, helped build healthy tissue, and induced beneficial cardiac remodeling. Of the thirty men enrolled in the study, half received ten injections of their own stem cells, while the remainder received donor cells. Smaller doses 20 million cells) worked better than larger doses. According to lead investigator Joshua Hare, the treatment is relatively inexpensive and potentially applicable to stroke, injuries, wounds and lung disease.  

Results from a small cardiac stem cell study on heart failure caused by heart attacks demonstrate that the healing effect of stem cell transplantation persists long after treatment. Patients continue to experience reductions in scar tissue, improvement in heart pumping, and quality of life two years post-transplantation, prompting Roberto Bolli, director of the Institute of Molecular Cardiology at the University of Louisville and lead investigator to call for “larger and randomized, blinded studies.”

Success in stem cell cardiac  interventions depends strongly on the type of stem cell used. The TIME (Transplantation In Myocardial Infarction Evaluation) study, led by Jay Traverse of the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation, has found that autologous bone marrow stem cells harvested and administered three or seven days after a heart attack did not improve heart function after six months later. The trial mirrored a previous, related study that showed no improvement when cells were administered two to three weeks after a heart attack.

An article in Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News explores, with several leading stem cell experts, the potential to conduct in vitro clinical trials using stem cells.

A new video-protocol in the Journal of Visualized Experiments unveils a new technique for generating human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) from four milliliters of peripheral blood. The technique, developed by Boston University’s Gustavo Mostoslavsky, uses a highly efficient vector invented by Mostoslavsky several years ago. 

 University of Georgia researcher Michael Tiemeyer has discovered how surface glycans might control the “societal interactions” of stem cells. Glycans, or sugar residues, were previously thought to lack significance in stem cell research. Said Tiemeyer: “Glycans…control how cells interact with each other and how they interact with their environment.” 

Researchers at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, have identified a new stem cell population in the epidermis responsible for skin repair. In a study published in Nature, researchers lead by Cédric Blanpain demonstrated the existence of a new population of stem cells that give rise to progenitor cells that ensure the daily maintenance of the epidermis, and that are also responsible for wound healing. 

In a new study appearing in Journal of Neuroscience, researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center report on complex cellular mechanics that instruct specific brain cells to continue to divide. This discovery overcomes a significant technical hurdle to potential human stem cell therapies, ensuring what investigator Steve Goldman describes as “an almost endless supply of cells” suitable for therapy. Goldman specifically was investigating glial progenitor cells found in the white matter of the human brain. However, investigators contend that the same process could also be applied to glial precursors derived from embryos or reprogrammed skin cells, which would greatly expand the number of cells potentially derived from single patients.


Business Briefs: Pluristem Therapeutics, which is building a full-scale commercial-grade stem cell manufacturing facility in Israel, claims to have reached a major milestone by introducing a cell thawing device that will improve quality and streamline process validation.   Athersys subsidiary ReGenesys has received the BioProcess International Award for the “Technical Application of the Decade” for its use of an automated bioreactor system for the production of MultiStem, Athersys’ proprietary, off-the-shelf stem cell therapy.   Ottawa Hospital will be the first of four Canadian health centers to begin collecting umbilical cord blood when its program begins in spring, 2013. Ribbon-cutting at the $48 million collection facility will followed, in 2014, by the opening of three other centers.    The EndoStem consortium, a collaboration coordinated by David Sassoon (UPMC/Inserm, Paris, France), and partly financed by the European Commission, claims to be making “significant advances” in novel therapies targeting resident stem cells for in situ tissue repair. The consortium is focusing on muscle diseases.   Stem cell manufacturer Angel Biotechnology will supply ReNeuron with clinical-grade stem cells for use in ReNeuron’s 12-subject clinical trials in ischemic stroke.    RnR Market Research has published a market study, Global Biobank Market For Equipment & Media – Trends & Forecast to 2017. Life science equipment firm EMD Millipore will team with Sistemic, a provider of microRNA-related services and kits, on a monitoring methodology (utilizing Sistemic’s microRNA marker detection technology) to enable consistent growth of stem cells. 

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