Friday, 13 February 2015

Observing Hematopoietic Stem Cells Differentiate Into Blood Cells in Living Mouse

Dr. Hans-Reimer Rodewald
Credit: DKFZ
German researchers develop a way to equip mouse hematopoietic (blood) stem cells with a fluorescent marker that can be switched on from the outside. Using this tool, they were able to observe, for the first time, how stem cells mature into blood cells under normal conditions in a living organism.

In the bone marrow, hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) give rise to a large variety of mature blood cells via progenitor cells at various stages of maturation. Now, scientists at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) say have developed a way to equip mouse HSCs with a fluorescent marker that can be switched on from the outside.

Using this tool, they were able to observe, for the first time, how stem cells mature into blood cells under normal conditions in a living organism.

With these data, they developed a mathematical model of the dynamics of hematopoiesis. The researchers have now reported in the journal Nature that the normal process of blood formation differs from what scientists had previously assumed when using data from stem cell transplantations.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplants Work Better than Drugs for Severe Multiple Sclerosis

Demyelination by multiple sclerosis. The CD68 colored tissue
shows several macrophages in the area of the lesion.
Original scale 1:100
New study reveals that hematopoietic stem cell transplants may be more effective than the drug mitoxantrone for people with severe cases of multiple sclerosis.

The study appears in the online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

A total of 21 people whose disability due to MS had increased during the previous year even though they were taking conventional medications (also known as first-line treatments) participated in the stydy. The participants, who had an average age of 36, were at an average disability level where a cane or crutch was required to walk.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) causes the body's immune system to attack its own central nervous system. In this phase II study, all of the participants received medications to suppress immune system activity.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Global Stem Cells Announces Alliance with Regenerative Technology Alliance

Global Stem Cells Group announced yesterday that it has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Regenerative Technology Alliance (RTA) to evaluate and promote stem cell training programs.

Global Stem Cells Group and the Regenerative Technology Alliance (RTA) have signed a memorandum of understanding to evaluate and promote stem cell training programs.

RTA, a global provider of standards and certification for the emerging fields of regenerative medicine and science, will work along with the Global Stem Cells Group to evaluate the regenerative medicine company’s training programs and assess GSCG’s participating physicians against the RTA’s established international standards for the practice of regenerative and cell-based medicine.

Engineers Put the 'Squeeze' on Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells

Inside the cell, calcium ions are released from a structure called the
endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Forces applied to the bead cause ion channels
in the ER to open mechanically (shown in red above), rather through
biochemical signaling chemically (shown in green below).
Credit: Jie Sun/Peter Wang research group
By using optical tweezers to squeeze a tiny bead attached to the outside of a human mesenchymal stem cell, scientists now know how mechanical forces can trigger a key signalling pathway in the cells.

This squeeze helps to release calcium ions stored inside the cells and opens up channels in the cell membrane that allow the ions to flow into the cells, according to Yingxiao Wang, leading author of the study and bioengineer at the University of California, San Diego.

It's long known that mechanical forces exerted on stem cells have a significant role to play in how the cells differentiate into other cells and form all kinds of tissues--like bone, skin and blood--from scratch. But until today, it hasn't been clear how some of these forces translate into the signals that prod the stem cells into building new tissue.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Endothelial Cells Improve the Differentiation of Pluripotent Stem Cells to Blood Cells

Hans-Peter Kiem
Blood vessel cells improve the conversion of pluripotent stem cells like iPSCs to blood lineages.

Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) can differentiate into all the kinds of ce ls that comprise the blood and immune cell lineages. For decades now, hematopoietic stem cell transplantation is the only viable option for certain blood disorders, however, sources of HSCs are limited.

Pluripotent stem cells(PSCs), like induced pluripotent stem cells and embryonic stem cells can differentiate into multiple types of cell lineages, but they do not readily reconstitute the population of cells in blood. 

Now, a new study appearing Journal of Clinical Investigation reveals that the presence of endothelial cells, which make up the lining of blood vessels, improves the ability of PSC-derived cells to repopulate blood cell lineages.

 Hans-Peter Kiem and his team at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center differentiated PSCs in the presence or absence of endothelial cells.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Study Identifies Stem Cell Signaling Process That Gives Rise to Intestinal Tumors

Location and appearance of
two example intestinal tumors
Researchers identify signaling molecules in intestinal stem cells that can give rise to cancer stem cells and tumors if left unregulated. The research suggests a new approach to targeting intestinal cancers.

Researchers at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute (Sanford-Burnham) announced today that they have discovered a precise stem cell signaling process that can lead to intestinal tumors when disrupted.

Their findings add to our understanding of how stem cells give rise to tumors and identify specific stem cell molecules that may be targeted to prevent the onset, progression, and recurrence of intestinal cancers. The results of the study appear online in Cell Reports today.

Creative Medical Health Files Patent on Multiple Sclerosis Mesenchymal Stem Cell Therapy

Creative Medical Health (CMH) announced today that it has filled a patent of intellectual property covering the utilization of its proprietary mesenchymal stem cell-based product for treatment for autoimmune diseases, with multiple sclerosis being the first disease in which the product will be clinically assessed.

The patent covers various modifications and cell types that are used to specifically stop the immunological processes that cause inflammation in the nervous system, which leads to the pathology seen in multiple sclerosis.

Human Embryonic Stem Cells Repair Brain Damage in Rats Caused by Radiation Therapy

Rats treated with the human cells regained cognitive
and motor functions that were lost after brain irradiation.
Credit: Dr. Denis Soulet, Laval University, Quebec
Human stem cells used successfully to repair brain damage in rats caused by radiation therapy for cancer

For patients with brain cancer, radiation treatment is a powerful and potentially life-saving treatment, but it can also cause considerable and even permanent injury to the brain.

Now, through preclinical research conducted in rats, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center researchers have developed a new method to turn human embryonic stem cells into cells that are instructed to repair damage in the brain. 

Rats treated with the human cells regained cognitive and motor functions that were lost after brain irradiation. The study appeared in the February 5 issue of the journal Cell Stem Cell.

During radiation therapy for brain cancer, progenitor cells that later mature to produce the protective myelin coating around neurons are lost or significantly depleted, and there is no treatment available to restore them. These myelinating cells--called oligodendrocytes--are critical for shielding and repairing the brain's neurons throughout life.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Malaria-in-a-Dish Paves the Way for Personalized Treatments

Plasmodium vivax liver-stage infection in iPSC-derived
liver cells at eight days after infection.
Credit: Ng et al.
MIT researchers use induced pluripotent stem cells, to screen potential antimalarial drugs and vaccines for their ability to treat the liver stage of malaria infection. 

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have engineered a way to use human liver cells, derived from induced pluripotent stem cells, to screen potential antimalarial drugs and vaccines for their ability to treat the liver stage of malaria infection.

This new approach may offer new opportunities for personalized antimalarial drug testing and the development of more effective individually tailored drugs to combat the disease, which causes more than 500,000 deaths worldwide each year.

The scientists presented their work in the February 5th issue of Stem Cell Reports, the official journal of the International Society for Stem Cell Research.

"Our platform can be used for testing candidate drugs that act against the parasite in the early liver stages, before it causes disease in the blood and spreads back to the mosquito vector. This is especially important given the increasing occurrence of drug-resistant strains of malaria in the field." said senior study author Sangeeta Bhatia, MD, PhD, the director of MIT's Laboratory for Multiscale Regenerative Technologies and a biomedical engineer at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Results of Neural Stem Cells for Macular Degeneration to be Presented at Ophthalmology Conference

Picture of the fundus showing intermediate
age-related macular degeneration
StemCells, Inc. a company developing cell-based therapeutics for disorders of the central nervous system, announced today that it will present the results of its Phase I/II study in dry age related macular degeneration (AMD) at the Angiogenesis, Exudation and Degeneration 2015 symposium. 

Specifically, it will be presenting the findings on the safety and preliinary efficacy of HuCNS-SC(R), human neural stem cells, for AMD.

The presentation will be done by Theodore Leng, MD, MS, Clinical Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology at the Byers Eye Institute at Stanford, Stanford University School of Medicine and a principal investigator on StemCells, Inc.'s study. Dr. Leng will present at 12:40 p.m. EST.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Oklahoma Panel Passes Stem Cell Research Ban Bill

Human Embryonic Stem Cells
A bill to to make embryonic stem cell research illegal and to further restrict abortion in Oklahoma both cleared a House committee on Wednesday, despite concerns from a doctor on the panel.

While activists gathered at the Capitol for the annual anti-abortion Rose Day rally, the House Public Health Committee voted mostly along party lines to approve both bills. An exception was Rep. Doug Cox, a Grove Republican and an emergency room physician who opposed both measures.

One bill would increase from 24 to 72 hours the amount of time a woman must wait before receiving an abortion after receiving certain information about the procedure, including the age of the fetus, risks involved and that ultrasound and heart tone monitoring are available.

Rep. Lisa Billy, R-Lindsay, said the purpose of the bill is to “empower women” by giving them more time to consider the implications of an abortion. But Cox said it amounted to government intrusion into a medical decision that should be between a woman and her doctor.

The other bill would make it a felony crime to perform embryonic stem cell research in Oklahoma. The bill is opposed by many doctors and business groups like the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, who argue it could impede scientific research in Oklahoma.

Study Ties Three Genes to Radiation Resistance in Recurrent Tumors

Coronal MRI with contrast of a glioblastoma
New research identifies three genes that together enable a lethal form of brain cancer to recur and progress after radiation therapy.

A new study has identified several genes that together enable a lethal form of brain cancer to recur and progress after radiation therapy.

The findings might lead to new therapies that target cancer stem cells, say researchers at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center -- Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC -- James), who led the study.

The scientists focused on the brain cancer glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). They investigated a subset of cancer cells within those tumors that behave like stem cells and that sometimes survive radiation therapy. To understand how those cancer stem-like cells survive irradiation, the researchers examined the cancer-related gene EZH2, which is unregulated in GBM and other cancers.

Swedish Researchers Question Treatment of Infertility with Stem Cells

Dr. Kui Liu
New research by Swedish scientists at the University of Gothenburg and Karolinska Institute questions the notion that infertility can be treated with stem cells.

Whether or not infertility can be treated with the help of stem cells has remained a debate for many years.

The classical theory is based on the idea that the eggs a woman has are the ones she has had from birth, but there are researchers who claim that stem cell research could lead to the creation of new eggs. If so, this would mean that infertile women, such as those who have entered the menopause, could be given new eggs.

New studies done by researchers at the University of Gothenburg and Karolinska Institute now show that the dream of successfully treating infertility with stem cells will probably not be realized. These new research studies have been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).