Tag Archive | "Stem Cell Research"

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New Study Yields Unique Drug Responses With Patient-Derived Stem Cells

A new study of mitochondrial deficits in iPSC-derived neural cells, funded by the National Institutes of Health and published in Science Translational Medicine, shows that patient-derived stem cells yield differing responses for cells derived from patients with different etiologies of Parkinson’s disease. The study suggests that Parkinson’s intervention may someday be tailored to individuals based upon the genetic cause of their illness.

Parkinson’s disease is a debilitating illness that affects multiple regions of the brain. In the region of the brain that controls motor activity, the disease destroys critical dopamine-producing neurons. The loss of these neurons, with the associated loss of dopamine, leads to muscle stiffness, slowed movements, and eventually to the involuntary shaking that is the classic symptom of Parkinson’s. There is currently no known cure for the disease.

Genetics is known to play a strong role in the development of Parkinson’s. Seventeen regions of the human genome have been identified where common variations in sequencing appear to increase the risk of developing the disease. Researchers have also identified nine specific genes that can mutate to cause Parkinson’s.

In the study, neurons were derived from the skin cells of patients with various inherited forms of Parkinson’s disease. Mitochondrial deficits associated with Parkinson’s were observed across all the samples, and the cellular responses to treatments varied according to the specific type of Parkinson’s afflicting the donor patient.

The skin cells were first transformed into induced pluripotent stem cells. These cells, called iPS cells, are adult cells that have been reprogrammed to mimic embryonic stem cells. The cells were then manipulated into become neurons through a combination of growth-stimulating molecules and favorable conditions.

The study used iPS cells derived from patients with mutations in the leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 enzyme that is encoded by the PARK8 gene and from patients with mutations in the PTEN-induced putative kinase 1 serine/threonine-protein kinase that is encoded by the PINK1 gene. Both of these mutations are known to cause Parkinson’s disease.

The researchers monitored the oxygen consumption rates of the mitochondria in the derived cells. Mitochondria use oxygen to produce cellular energy from glucose, and Parkinson’s disease has been linked to a breakdown of mitochondrial function.

Oxygen consumption rates were observed to be lower in the cells derived from patients with LRRK2 mutations and higher in cells derived from patients with PINK1 mutations. Administration of the immunosuppressant rapamycin was found to help prevent damage to LRRK2 mutated cells but not neurons with PINK1 mutations.

These results suggest that Parkinson’s originating from different genetic causes may benefit from different medical treatments, and iPS cell technology could be used to identify subgroups of clinical trial patients. Parkinson’s intervention trials have never before focused on specific genetic groups.

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US Appeals Court Lifts Stem Cell Research Ban

A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington ruled that opponents are not likely to succeed in their lawsuit to stop federal financing of stem cell research and overturned a district judge’s order that would have blocked the funding.

The panel reversed an opinion issued last August by U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth, who said the research likely violates the law against federal funding of embryo destruction.

The White House said the ruling was a victory for scientists and patients. “Responsible stem cell research has the potential to treat some of our most devastating diseases and conditions and offers hope to families across the country and around the world,” spokesman Nick Papas said.

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Stem Cell Research Could Improve Life For Type 1 Diabetics

While stem cell research has been a hotbed of controversy for conditions and diseases like cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s, cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, spinal chord injuries and some even think it could be an anti-aging serum, but stem cell research has been a leading potential answer for Type 1 diabetics for over a decade.

There are three types of diabetes. Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy and will often go away once the pregnancy has been completed. Type 2 diabetes accounts for nearly 90 percent of all diabetics. Type 2 diabetes can be, in most cases, prevented with diet, exercise, oral drugs and even insulin.

Type 1 diabetes is not curable and is only treatable with insulin shots. Type 1 diabetics have to take these shots from the point they are diagnosed for the rest of their life. Diabetes often leads to heart disease, eye problems such as glaucoma, leg and feet problems that can lead to amputations, neuropathy and mental health problems. There is no cure.

But stem cell research has given diabetics hope for a cure after several clinical trials reported success among trial patients. A study done in 2009 reported that diabetics that received new blood stem cells could go without insulin for nearly two and a half years, in the best subjects of the test. Overall, 20 of the 23 patients were able to stay off insulin anywhere from a month to several years. The patients also seemed to have insulin-producing beta cells that are typically destroyed by the auto-immune disease.

Several of the trials have been completed with similar results, and diabetics all over the world are looking forward to stem cell research funding to come through.

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Investments in Stem Cell Research to Reach US$2.4B by 2015

The US represents the largest regional market for investments in adult stem cells research, as stated by the new market research report on Stem Cells Research. Despite the ban over federal funding for research in embryonic stem cells, North America is presently dominating the stem cells market. Key factors that have kept North American market on the top of the charts include advanced stem cell research infrastructure and facilities, and federal support for the research. Europe trails behind the US market. Despite significant developments in research in many countries across the region, European market for stem cells is being partially held back by issues such as opposition to embryonic stem cell research in Germany, Poland, and Italy. However, growth in the global stem cells research would be led by Rest of World market, which is forecast to be the fastest growing regional market during the analysis period. Asia emerged as the major market in the rest of world market, with countries such as Japan, China, Singapore, Korea, and Australia emerging as the major hubs for stem cells research.

Major players profiled in the report include Advanced Cell Technology Inc., Athersys Inc., Cytori Therapeutics Inc., Genzyme Corporation, Geron Corporation, International Stem Cell Corporation, Mesoblast Ltd., Osiris Therapeutics Inc., StemCells Inc., ThermoGenesis Corp., among others.

The research report titled “Stem Cells Research: A Global Strategic Business Report” announced by Global Industry Analysts Inc., provides a comprehensive review of the stem cells research markets (including adult stem cells and embryonic stem cells), current market trends, key growth drivers, overview of major types of stem cells, recent product innovations/introductions, recent industry activity, and profiles of major/niche global as well as regional market participants. The report provides annual estimates and forecasts of investments in the area of stem cells research for the years 2006 through 2015 by the following geographic markets – US, Europe, and Rest of World.

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Suze Orman Encourages Cord Blood Banking

The personal finance expert Suze Orman, who found fame on Oprah, recently addressed the importance of making cord blood banking a priority. Her show features a segment called “Can I Afford It?” in which she takes calls from viewers and provides candid financial advice on the air.

An expectant mom called in for advice as to whether it made financial sense to store the baby’s umbilical cord blood. The caller explained that her doctor recommended banking baby’s cord blood, and based on her own research, she thought it was a good idea.

Suze advised the caller, saying “let me just make this easy for you, since I am a believer in stem cell research and I am a believer that we need to do things like this…even if you couldn’t quite afford it at this point, I would have you figure out how you could.” She added enthusiastically, “Go on, save your baby in the future.”

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Cleveland Stem Cell Project Gets $10M Grant

Two grants worth $10 million will help to further two stem-cell technologies more into clinical trials, while advancing research on a series of other nascent stem cell projects throughout Greater Cleveland.

The first grant of $5 million from Ohio’s Third Frontier Program will go to the Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine, and an additional $5 million will be matched through project participants. The center’s members include Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals and the local biopharmaceutical company Athersys.

Some of the grant money will go to Athersys to perform a Phase II clinical trial on MultiStem, an adult stem cell therapy to help victims of heart attacks, strokes and a complication of bone marrow transplants.

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St. Francis Hospital Umbilical Cord Blood Drive

Three organizations are joining together in an effort to further Stem Cell Research. The initiative looks to have mothers donate umbilical cord blood for use in stem cell research.

Wilmington’s St Francis Hospital and the Community Blood Services are working with the Brady Kohn Foundation on this effort to treat life-threatening diseases.

As part of this program all women giving birth at St Francis Hospital will be offered the opportunity to donate their baby’s umbilical cord blood.

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Most Common Brain Cancer May Start In Neural Stem Cells

Glioblastoma, the type of cancer that is diagnosed in about 10,000 Americans (and is the type suffered by U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy) each year, may originate in neural stem cells located in the brain.

Scientists studying in Michigan have found that a deficiency in a key tumor suppressor gene in the brain leads to Glioblastoma, the most common type of adult brain cancer. The study, conducted in mice that mimic human cancer, points the way to more effective future treatments and a way to screen for the disease early.

“We have to pay more attention to the stem cell niche” in both early detection and treatment, says Yuan Zhu, Ph.D., the study’s senior author and assistant professor in the departments of internal medicine and cell and developmental biology at the U-M Medical School.

If glioblastoma originates in neural stem cells in the subventricular zone in humans as it does in mice, the study suggests that doctors need to direct treatments there, as well as to the tumor, to eliminate the source of the cancer and keep it from returning, Zhu says.

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Stem Cell Treatment Effective Against Rare Form of Leukaemia

Sophie Edward (age 8), who has been suffering from a rare form of leukemia underwent stem cell treatment three months ago and is making progress.

Leukemia is a cancer that affects the blood cells and is unfortunately one of the more common cancers found in children.

Regular control mechanisms in the blood break down and the bone marrow begins to produce large numbers of abnormal white blood cells, disturbing the  production of normal blood cells and ultimately affecting the vital functions that these blood cells carry out.

Leukemia is also classified as either lymphoid or myeloid, depending on the type of white blood cells affected.  It’s also categorized as either acute or chronic, depending on the speed of progression.

Sophie was diagnosed with a rare form of leukaemia, called acute lymphoblastic leukemia in February of 2008 and has tried bone marrow transplant previously, but eventually her bone marrow transplant did not take and she and her family had no other way left but to relay on stem cell transplant.

The original transplant that had eventually failed, took place at St James’s Hospital, in Leeds, UK back in October.

Three months ago Sophie underwent a special type of stem cell treatment that was the first of it’s kind in Leeds.

Doctors used part of the original bone marrow left over from the previous transplant, and it was transplanted unprepared (due to her being too ill and needing to be acted on immediately) and chemotherapy used to get rid of the cells she didn’t need.

According to Sophie’s mother, Emma Edwards of Newsome, Huddersfield, they watched carefully each day after the eight-year-old underwent the stem cell treatment three months ago, and after three months they are now very relieved as so far all the signs are good and she is starting to feel much better.

Almost all childhood leukaemias are of the acute form, meaning they progress rapidly.

Acute lymphoblastic (lymphoid) leukaemia (ALL) accounts for more than 80% of childhood leukemia cases.  It is the only form of leukaemia – and one of the few forms of cancer – that is less common in adults than in children.

Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) accounts for most of the remaining cases.

Chronic leukaemias, which progress slowly, are very rare in childhood.

Chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) accounts for less than 3% of childhood leukemias

Chronic lymphoblastic leukaemia is very rare in children.

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New Ethics Criteria Threatens Stem Cell Research

Earlier this year, President Obama lifted restrictions on federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research with many scientists hailing the decision as a fantastic boost for stem cell research, one of the most promising fields of research in medicine.

Since that signing, there have been several that have concluded that the plan could have the opposite effect, putting off-limits for federal support much of the research underway, including work that the Bush administration endorsed. “We’re very concerned,” said Amy Comstock Rick, chief executive of the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research, “If they don’t change this, very little current research would be eligible. It’s a huge issue.”

The main concern is the focus on strict new ethics criteria that the National Institutes of Health has proposed. Current advocates of stem cell research say that the majority of the research being done in the field at this time has passed close scrutiny but that the procedures varied and usually did not match the details specified in these newly proposed guidelines.

“It’s not that past practices were shoddy,” said Lawrence S. Goldstein, director of the stem cell program at the University of California at San Diego. “But they don’t necessarily meet every letter of the new guidelines moving forward. We’d have to throw everything out and start all over again.”

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