March 27, 2014
‘Stem Cell Tourism’ Takes Advantage of Patients, Says Law Professor
(University of Wisconsin-Madison News) – Desperate patients are easy prey for unscrupulous clinics offering untested and risky stem cell treatments, says UW-Madison law and bioethics Professor Alta Charo, who is studying “stem cell tourism.” Stem cells are cells that can form many types of cells in the body, and that makes them inherently promising — and dangerous. “Stem cell tourism” refers to people traveling, both within the U.S. and abroad, in pursuit of advertised stem cell therapies to purportedly treat a variety of medical conditions.
Multiplex Parenting: In vitro Gametogenesis and the Generations to Come
(BMJ Blogs) – Recent biotechnology breakthroughs suggest that functional human gametes could soon be created in vitro. While the ethical debate on the uses of in vitro generated gametes (IVG) was originally constrained by the fact that they could be derived only from embryonic stem cell lines, the advent of induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (hiPSC) creates the possibility that somatic cells may be used to generate gametes. This means that in the future it might be possible to generate human sperm and oocytes from male cells, and oocytes from female cells. (So far it has not been possible to derive sperm from female cells.)
March 26, 2014
Stem Cell Findings May Offer Answers for Some Bladder Defects and Diseases
(Medical Xpress) – For the first time, scientists have succeeded in coaxing laboratory cultures of human stem cells to develop into the specialized, unique cells needed to repair a patient’s defective or diseased bladder. The breakthrough, developed at the UC Davis Institute for Regenerative Cures and published today in the scientific journal Stem Cells Translational Medicine, is significant because it provides a pathway to regenerate replacement bladder tissue for patients whose bladders are too small or do not function properly, such as children with spina bifida and adults with spinal cord injuries or bladder cancer.
March 21, 2014
Proteins that Control Energy Use Necessary to Form Stem Cells
(Phys.org) – Two proteins that control how cells metabolize glucose play a key role in the formation of human stem cells, UW researchers report. The findings advance scientists’ understanding of stem cell development but also suggest that the proteins, which also play a role in the process that transforms normal cells into cancer stem cells, might also be targets for new cancer therapies, the researchers write.
Scientists Create Stem Cells from a Drop of Blood from a Finger Prick
(Nanowerk) – Scientists at A*STAR’s Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB) have developed a method to generate human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) from a single drop of finger-pricked blood (“Human Finger-Prick Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells Facilitate the Development of Stem Cell Banking”). The method also enables donors to collect their own blood samples, which they can then send to a laboratory for further processing. The easy access to blood samples using the new technique could potentially boost the recruitment of greater numbers and diversities of donors, and could lead to the establishment of large-scale hiPSC banks.
Study Finds Stem Cell Combination Therapy Improves Traumatic Brain Injury Outcomes
(Medical Xpress) – In their study of several different therapies—alone and in combination—applied to laboratory rats modeled with TBI [traumatic brain injury], USF researchers found that a combination of human umbilical cord blood cells (hUBCs) and granulocyte colony stimulating factor (G-CSF), a growth factor, was more therapeutic than either administered alone, or each with saline, or saline alone.
March 20, 2014
Systemic Stem Cell Therapy Reduces Malignant Mesothelioma Growth
(News-Medical.net) – Systemic delivery of stem cells expressing an apoptosis-inducing protein can successfully incorporate into malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) cells and subsequently induce their death, according to preclinical study findings. While further validation is needed, the research opens up the possibility of using stem cell therapy to decrease tumour burden in this rare and largely untreatable type of lung cancer.
Stem Cells from Muscle Can Repair Nerve Damage after Injury, Researchers Show
(Medical Xpress) – Stem cells derived from human muscle tissue were able to repair nerve damage and restore function in an animal model of sciatic nerve injury, according to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. The findings, published online today in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, suggest that cell therapy of certain nerve diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, might one day be feasible.
Evolution of Stem Cell Quality Standards
(Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News) - While commercial providers of stem cells and stem cell-derived products have instituted quality-control measures, they are aware that no single, unchanging quality-control regime will suffice for all purposes. Instead, providers aim to apply “fit for purpose” metrics, knowing that these metrics may need to evolve as stem cell applications evolve. Changes may also be called for simply because research indicates that stem cell behavior can be scrutinized more closely.
March 19, 2014
Major Breakthrough in Developing New Cancer Drugs: Capturing Leukemic Stem Cells
(Science Codex) – The Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC) at the Université de Montréal (UdeM), in collaboration with the Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital’s Quebec Leukemia Cell Bank, recently achieved a significant breakthrough thanks to the laboratory growth of leukemic stem cells, which will speed up the development of new cancer drugs. In a recent study published in Nature Methods, the scientists involved describe how they succeeded in identifying two new chemical compounds that allow to maintain leukemic stem cells in culture when these are grown outside the body.
March 18, 2014
New Cell Line Should Accelerate Embryonic Stem Cell Research
(Medical News Today) – University of Washington researchers have created a line of human embryonic stem cells with the ability to develop into a far broader range of tissues than most existing cell lines. “These cells will allow us to gain a much greater understanding of normal embryonic development and have the real potential for use in developing ways to grow new tissues and organs for transplantation,” said Carol Ware, a professor of comparative medicine. She is the lead author of a paper describing the new cell line.
March 17, 2014
Riken Apologizes for Errors in Two Stem Cell Studies
(Bloomberg) – Japan’s Riken center apologized for errors in a pair of studies that had outlined a simpler, quicker way of making stem cells and said the institute is considering urging the scientists to retract it. Riken will impose a penalty if misconduct is proven, President Ryoji Noyori said in news conference today. Haruko Obokata, who led the research, and two other Riken researchers in a separate statement on the center’s website said they are in talks with co-writers to discuss a retraction.
Stem Cells Remember Substrates
(The Scientist) – Stem cells grown on hard or soft substrates seem to note the difference, and memory of their past environments can influence their later fates. Researchers demonstrate today (March 16) in Nature Materials that human mesenchymal stem cells grown on a rigid substrate for some time become biased toward differentiating into a bone-cell lineage, whereas cells grown on softer surfaces are just as likely to eventually follow a bone- or fat-cell fate.
Stem Cell Group Push to Self-Regulate
(Rheumatology Update) – Australia’s booming stem cell industry will attempt to police itself, under a bold new push to bring self-regulation to the sector. Amid growing concern about the lack of oversight of stem cell therapies, nine of the industry’s key players have formed a consortium to promote evidence-based practice and try to ensure the public is protected.
March 14, 2014
Tumor-preventing protein complex uncovered
(Medical News Today) – A team of researchers from Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School have discovered a protein complex that disrupts the process known as dedifferentiation, known to promote tumor development. Dedifferentiation (reversion) is a process that leads progenitor or mature cells to become ‘ectopic neural stem cells’ which causes tumors. By detecting this protein complex, Duke-NUS researchers have shed light on a process that inhibits tumor development and gives hope for the discovery of therapies and treatments that target tumor prevention through this pathway.
March 13, 2014
Research shows smoking harms your chances of recovering from fractures
(Medical News Today) – Bone healing cells in non-smokers are of a better quality, more active and quicker at dividing than those of smokers, according to new research. The study, carried out by United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT) and the University of Lincoln, UK, involved gathering 50 fracture patients who volunteered to allow blood from the area of the fracture to be analysed. The blood was studied in the laboratory at the University of Lincoln to identify the differences in the quantity and quality of stem cells and molecules that are involved in bone regeneration following fracture.
Lab may have to retract groundbreaking stem cell paper as questions arise
(Japan Times) – A government-affiliated laboratory said Tuesday it is considering retracting a research paper on a trailblazing method to create stem cells that drew global attention after one of the co-authors said the paper should be withdrawn until certain aspects are confirmed. Questions have been raised about images and wording used in the paper, which was written by a group led by Haruko Obokata at Riken’s Center for Developmental Biology on a method the group named “stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency,” or STAP.
March 11, 2014
New stem cell transplant holds promise for treatment of degenerative disc disease
(Business Standard) – Researchers have said that recent development in stem cell research could help treat degenerative disc disease. Senior author, Wenchun Qu, MD, PhD, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, said that this landmark study draws the conclusion in pre-clinical animal studies that stem cell therapy for disc degenerative disease might be a potentially effective treatment for the very common condition that affects people’s quality of life and productivity.
March 10, 2014
Japanese researcher backtracks on ‘breakthrough’ STAP cell research
(Reuters) – A Japanese scientist called on Monday for withdrawing stem-cell research he had been involved in that had appeared to promise a new era of medical biology as doubts have arisen over the results. The research, described as game-changing by experts at the time, was covered breathlessly in Japan after it was published in the journal Nature, with co-researcher Haruko Obokata becoming an instant celebrity.
Stem cell study opens door to undiscovered world of biology
(Phys.org) – For the first time, researchers have shown that an essential biological process known as protein synthesis can be studied in adult stem cells – something scientists have long struggled to accomplish. The groundbreaking findings from the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern (CRI) also demonstrate that the precise amount of protein produced by blood-forming stem cells is crucial to their function.
Banked, but cord blood is rare call
(Sydney Morning Herald) – Australian parents are paying thousands of dollars to store their babies’ umbilical cord blood with private operators – but only a few families have ever used it. Six out of about 30,000 people who banked cord blood privately in the past decade have accessed it, Mark Kirkland, medical director of private bank Cell Care, said. The head of the Australian Medical Association, Steve Hambleton, said he was concerned that parents are being ”oversold” on the merits of storage, which can cost up to $3000, and misled into spending money that is unlikely to have any benefit.