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    You are here : Home » MS Research News » Stem Cell Research & Treatment » General Stem Cell Research » General Stem Cell Research Archive - 2005 - 2006

    General Stem Cell Research Archive - 2005 - 2006

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    Stem cells may provide answer to blood-brain barrier
    The blood-brain barrier is a big problem when it comes to getting drugs into the brain, and researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison believe they have found a way to address the problem by using stem cells.

    The findings are the result of a collaborative study funded with a grant from the National Institutes of Health and led by UW-Madison professor of chemical and biological engineering Eric V. Shusta, who described the experiment in a recent online edition of the Journal of Neurochemistry.

    For this study, researchers used neural stem cells derived from the fetal brains of rats, and co-cultured them along with blood-brain barrier cells - endothelial cells that make up the blood-brain barrier. They found that the stem cells could have a profound effect on sealing the blood-brain barrier, which happens very early in development.

    Although the blood-brain barrier protects the brain from chemicals and other harmful agents, it also has frustrated neuroscientists and drug companies because it restricts the administration of drugs.

    As Shusta explained, the blood-brain barrier "dictates traffic in and out of the brain."

    Teaming up

    Shusta's research team also includes UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health professor and stem cell authority Clive Svendsen, and UW-Madison doctoral fellow Christian Weidenfeller.

    In essense, they have demonstrated that developing brain cells can release factors that might coax small blood vessels to exhibit the properties of the blood-brain barrier. Svendsen believes the finding could produce insights into how drugs could overcome the barrier and treat disease.

    "The idea is that we can use this process to mimic what happens in normal development so that we can make a better model of the blood-brain barrier, and that's important for testing drugs," he said.

    Their next move will be to reproduce the findings using human endothelial cells and neural stem cells, which would represent a breakthrough because there is no reliable model for the human blood-brain barrier and because many promising drugs are made up of molecules too big to pass through the human barrier.

    Handy stem cells

    According to Svendsen, studying the human cells could produce results after a year or more of work, and he noted that researchers at UW-Madison have access to a lot of different types of human stem cells.

    "The interactions between the stem cells and endothelial cells hasn't really been explored before," he noted. "It's another area I think where stem cells will come in handy, and having an in vivo model that is really sealed gives you a chance to test whether drugs will get through the blood-brain barrier before giving them to animals or people."

    Source: Wisconsin Technology Network © 2002-2006 Wisconsin Technology Network LLC. All Rights Reserved

    Stem Cells Repair Brain Tissue
    A new study by University of California San Francisco researchers suggested that stem cells in the brains of mice have a capacity to repair damaged tissue.

    As those cells are also present in the human brain, the same capacity or potential may exist in humans, researchers concluded.

    "Our results show that neural stem cells in mice have the ability to sense damage in their environment that leads to their subsequent proliferation to help restore local tissue integrity," lead researcher Chay T. Kuo explained.

    "If we can figure out how this happens, and determine that it occurs in human neural stem cells, we may be able to increase the effect and harness it for therapeutic use," Kuo added. The study is reported in the Dec. 15 issue of Cell journal.

    Source: All Headline News © All Headline News Corp. All Rights Reserved.

    Ukraine babies in stem cell probe
    Healthy new-born babies may have been killed in Ukraine to feed a flourishing international trade in stem cells, evidence obtained by the BBC suggests.

    Disturbing video footage of post-mortem examinations on dismembered tiny bodies raises serious questions about what happened to them.

    Ukraine has become the self-styled stem cell capital of the world.

    There is a trade in stem cells from aborted foetuses, amid unproven claims they can help fight many diseases.

    But now there are claims that stem cells are also being harvested from live babies.

    Wall of silence

    The BBC has spoken to mothers from the city of Kharkiv who say they gave birth to healthy babies, only to have them taken by maternity staff.

    In 2003 the authorities agreed to exhume around 30 bodies of foetuses and full-term babies from a cemetery used by maternity hospital number six.

    One campaigner was allowed into the autopsy to gather video evidence. She has given that footage to the BBC and Council of Europe.

    In its report, the Council describes a general culture of trafficking of children snatched at birth, and a wall of silence from hospital staff upwards over their fate.

    The pictures show organs, including brains, have been stripped - and some bodies dismembered.

    A senior British forensic pathologist says he is very concerned to see bodies in pieces - as that is not standard post-mortem practice.

    It could possibly be a result of harvesting stem cells from bone marrow.

    Hospital number six denies the allegations.

    Source: BBC News Copywrite BBC 2006

    Stem cells: hope or hype?
    Getting stem cells into the clinic is seen as the Holy Grail of medicine.

    Injections of these cells, which have the special ability to transform into any other cells, have been paraded as the panacea for diseases, from Parkinson's to diabetes.

    And recent advances, such as clinical trials where heart attack patients are to be injected with stem cells or research showing their possible ability to restore the sight of blind mice, suggest this hope could be becoming a reality.

    But is this really the case?

    Stem cell 'cowboys' 

    We are at the stage where some stem cell research is moving from animal models towards the clinic, says Professor Anne McLaren, a developmental biologist from Cambridge University.

    But while there has been much progress, there has also been a lot of hype, she adds.

    "And I believe stem cell research really mustn't be overhyped - it will be a good while even before the somatic (adult or foetal) stem cells are applied in the clinic and a decade or more before embryonic stem cells are."

    Some attempts to edge stem cells closer towards the clinic are faring better than others. In fact, stem cells have been used for years in bone marrow transplants for leukaemia, and using stem cells to grow skin to graft onto burns patients has also been a great success.

    Presently, research looking at stem cells to repair eyes, cartilage and even the spinal cord is also looking promising.

    But, according to Professor Richard Gardner, a stem cell expert based at Oxford University, people are "emphasising the promise" and "failing to highlight the problems that are yet to be overcome".

    "And in the meantime," he says, "there is the real concern about the stem cell cowboys."

    "You've got these people charging thousands of pounds to inject dubious cells into people suffering from diseases such as multiple sclerosis, and people who are chasing couples about to give birth and charging them thousands of pounds to store their baby's umbilical cord cells." 

    This is unethical, he says, because there are some fundamental problems regarding how these stem cells, whether they are adult, foetal or embryonic, will behave once they are in the body.

    Too much, too soon

    Dr Huseyin Mehmet, from the US-based Merck Research Laboratories, agrees.

    "I do not doubt that stem cell transplantation will be a therapy of the future, but I think we ought to be focusing much more on basic mechanisms of stem cell differentiation - how stem cells make the decision to move from their stem cell state into a more committed phenotype.

    "And I don't think we know anything near enough about how we can control what our stem cells do in the test tube, the animal and the patient.

    "I think we are so far away from knowing that, that I would be loathe to start sticking stem cells willy-nilly into patients."

    But while stem cell transplant advances may be further off than hoped, the field is racing ahead in other, perhaps more "blue skies", areas of research.

    Dr Steven Pollard is a researcher at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Stem Cell Research, based at Cambridge University, and works on brain stem cells.

    He says: "With brain stem cells, it would be very unrealistic to build up patients' hopes that these could be used as a repair mechanism in transplants, but what they will do is become a very useful tool to understand the basic biology of disease."

    Unlimited access

    By creating stem cells from an animal or human with a particular disease, such as motor neurone disease, scientists can watch what is going on in the cells as they change into other cell types, tracking any peculiarities in the process, seeing what happens as they develop and grow.

    And understanding the mechanism of a disease can be key to providing insights into possible treatments, or even cures.

    Dr Pollard also predicts stem cells will prove very useful for drug screening.

    "To have unlimited access to human neural material offers the opportunity to screen drugs to look at how we can affect cell behaviour, test toxicity and these sorts of things."

    He adds that knowledge about the basic biology of stem cells is going to be important in cancer research.

    "I think this will be one of the more likely success stories.

    "For a lot of tumours, like brain tumours or breast cancers, it seems to be the case that there is a sub-population of cells within the tumour that you could call cancer stem cells. So understanding those and targeting those is a pretty major area."

    'Unrealistic expectations'

    So slowly but surely, stem cell research is progressing, and scientists agree it is indeed an exciting and promising area.

    But it seems, initially, that the biggest advances may be in understanding how these special cells work, working out how they can be controlled and harnessed, and using them to explore our basic biology before they will find a permanent home in the clinic.

    Professor Gardner says: "I'm very mindful of what happened 30 years ago when everyone in the field was promoting gene therapy - this area has limped along and there has really been no major pay off yet.

    "I think already with the stem cell field there is a real concern about engendering unrealistic expectations among those who stand to benefit.

    "It is important to highlight what may be possible, but at the same time highlight some of the formidable technical problems that one has to grapple."

    Source: BBC News Copywrite BBC 2006

    Funding kicks off new treatments for diabetes and multiple sclerosis
    A A$5.23 million research program that will combine stem cell therapies with a rebuilding of a key part of the immune system – the thymus – to treat diseases such as autoimmune gastritis, multiple sclerosis and diabetes is being pursued at Monash University following today's announcement that it has been funded through the National Health and Medical Research Council's Programs scheme.

    The Minister for Health and Ageing, The Hon.Tony Abbott today announced funding for Monash University of more than $43 million through the NHMRC's Program, Project and Career Development schemes.

    This included funding for nine Research Fellowships, two Practitioner Fellowships, two enabling grants - $2.5 million for the National Non-Human Primate Breeding and Research Facility and $1.84 million for the Australian Mouse Brain Mapping Consortium – and an $822,000 equipment grant.

    Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Edwina Cornish said the NHMRC funding announced today was testament to the innovative medical research being pursued at Monash.

    Professor Richard Boyd, principal investigator on the stem cell program, said diseases such as autoimmune gastritis, multiple sclerosis and diabetes arose because a "rogue" immune system had turned inwards to attack the body's organs. "The organ destruction follows from recognition by the immune system of specific molecules – insulin in the case of diabetes, and a protein called MOG in the case of MS - in the organs," Professor Boyd said.

    "These "autoimmune" diseases are incurable and controlled mainly by long-term administration of substances that suppress the immune system, often with serious side-effects. A rational approach is to render the rogue immune system harmless by removing the immune cells that recognize these particular molecules," he said. "We plan to use stem cell therapies combined with a rejuvenated immune system to treat these diseases without the need for excessive immunosuppressive regimes that are detrimental to health and well-being."

    The same technologies should be applicable to minimising or even preventing the rejection of foreign transplants, Professor Boyd said.

    Source: Research Australia

    Stem Cells enters licence pact Canadian biotech firm
    Stem Cells, Inc. has entered into a license agreement with Stem Cell Therapeutics Corp. a Canadian biotechnology company engaged in treating certain central nervous system (CNS) disorders by stimulating endogenous neural stem cells.

    Under the terms of agreement, Stem Cell Therapeutics (SCT) will pay Stem Cells up front and license maintenance fees, as well as milestone and royalty payments. The agreement also provides Stem Cells with access to SCT's intellectual property portfolio for use in drug discovery, screening and testing, and therapeutic use of cellular compositions. Stem Cells will pay SCT a commercially reasonable royalty to be negotiated in good faith on products developed under the license.

    "We are delighted to have Stem Cell Therapeutics as our newest licensee in the neural stem cell field," said Martin McGlynn, president and CEO of Stem Cells. "We regard them as a pioneer in the use of various molecules to induce a patient's own stem cells to proliferate in the brain, and wish them great success with their programs, some of which are already clinical stage. Our own primary approach to treating disorders of the CNS is through the direct transplantation into the brain of natural human neural stem cells; ReNeuron, a UK biotech company that is another of our licensees in the neural stem cell field, has a similar approach to ours, but in their case they use conditionally immortalized cells. Patients can only benefit from collaborations of this sort in the private sector, as they provide multiple shots on goal, where the goal is to bring stem cell based treatments to the clinic to treat a whole range of intractable conditions of the CNS."

    "This is a mutually advantageous deal that we believe advances the adult neural stem cell field as a whole. The rights we have licensed from Stem Cells further solidify and strengthen our intellectual property position, and the agreement allows Stem Cells to use our intellectual property through approaches we are not currently pursuing in our own programs," said Joseph Tucker, PhD, president and CEO of Stem Cell Therapeutics.

    "Stem Cell Therapeutics is focused on a drug based approach to treating disease, while Stem Cells is developing cell based therapeutic approaches using adult stem cells. I believe that this agreement should help both companies achieve their ultimate goals of bringing effective stem cell therapies to the patients who need them."

    Source: Pharmabiz.com Copyright © Saffron Media Pvt. Ltd.

    EU agrees limited funds for stem cell research
    European Union ministers agreed on Monday (24th July) to allow limited use of EU cash for research involving human embryonic stem cells in a compromise to win over a German-led coalition opposed to the practice.

    The deal would ban research that involves destroying human embryos, including for the procurement of stem cells, EU president Finland said.

    However, this would not prevent EU funding of "subsequent steps" involving human embryonic stem cells, the ministers agreed.

    Source: Yahoo! News Copyright © 2006 Reuters Limited.

    British scientists find key to 'pluripotency' of stem cells
    British scientists have discovered a key factor that directs the stem cells in the body to grow into any tissue. This finding means that adult cells could br turned back into stem cells, thus avoiding the unnecessary controversy generated by human embryonic stem cells or cloning.

    Scientists have called this molecule as Nanog and say that it has the ability to turn ordinary cells into stem cells. "Ultimately, we may be able to directly reprogram an adult cell [from a patient, for example] into embryonic stem cells, and from these obtain the cells needed to treat the disease," said lead researcher Jose Silva. However, Silva, who is affiliated to the Institute for Stem Cell Research at the University of Edinburgh, said that there was still "a long way to go -- we have identified Nanog as a major player, but it does not act alone."

    Reporting in the June 15 issue of Nature, the researchers tried to zone in on the mechanism that gives the stem cells the ability to turn into any adult cell type. "Nanog was first identified in 2003," Silva said. "It is a protein that acts in embryonic stem cells [and in the early embryo] to keep cells pluripotent."

    But scientists were never able to understand the true significance of Nanog until now. Silva said that they "used embryonic mouse stem cells with nerve-cell stem cells and with ordinary cells from the thymus" using a process called "cell fusion." What this meant was a completely new set of cells received new set of directions. Keeping in mind the ability of Nanog, the researchers engineered the new cells to produce extra Nanog.

    "Up to 200 times more hybrid cells were formed," Silva said. "This is a clear indication that Nanog is acting in the reprogramming process." He was however quick to point out that a lot of work still needed to be done, "At the moment, it is not yet feasible to turn an adult cell into an embryonic stem cell simply by introducing Nanog," Silva said. "Stem cell research is arguably one of the most exciting fields of biomedical research today, but, as with all scientific endeavors, it advances step by step, at times apparently gently, but always surely."

    Source: Earthtimes.org (c) 2006 Earthtimes.org, All Rights Reserved.

    Making Schwann Cells From Skin Precursors
    The hunt goes on for more accessible sources of neural stem cells. In this week's Journal, McKenzie et al. go to the skin as a source of neural crest precursors. When the authors treated rodent and human skin-derived precursors (SKPs) with forskolin and neuregulin-1a, some of the cells differentiated into Schwann cells. The authors then cocultured rodent SKP-derived Schwann cells, genetically labeled with yellow fluorescent protein (YFP), with dorsal root ganglion neurons from shiverer mice that lack myelin basic protein.

    After 3 weeks in vitro, most of the tagged Schwann cells were associated with axons, many took on a myelinating phenotype, and some proliferated, apparently in response to axon-derived cues. YFP-labeled, SKP-derived Schwann cells, transplanted into the sciatic nerve or brain of shiverer mice, also successfully myelinated axons. Significantly, naive human SKPs transplanted into injured peripheral nerve or neonatal mouse brain to neonatal shiverer mouse brains differentiated in vivo and formed compact myelin.

    Ian A. McKenzie, Jeff Biernaskie, Jean G. Toma, Rajiv Midha, and Freda D. Miller

    Source: News tips from The Journal of Neuroscience

    The dark side of stem cells
    In a University of Calgary laboratory crowded with researchers and refrigerators, Dr. John Kelly removes a plastic flask from the cool interior of what looks like a minibar.

    Pink fluid swishes around the flask as the young scientist places it on a counter and focuses a microscope on the liquid. Clumps of cells, grown from human brain tumours, are clearly visible under the lens.

    For 12 months, Kelly has been studying these tumours because he believes stem cells -- often thought of as a kind of "miracle cell" -- may be at the root of the cancerous growths.

    "We think there's a relationship between neural stem cells and brain tumours," said the soft-spoken Kelly.

    That possibility seems like a contradiction.

    After all, stem cells have made headlines around the world as one of the hottest areas of science.

    Prized for their potential to develop into many different types of cells in the body, some researchers believe stem cells hold the key to unlocking treatments for a variety of afflictions -- from Parkinson's to spinal cord injuries.

    But Kelly is studying whether some of these so-called golden cells have a dark side.

    The neurosurgery resident and PhD candidate is not alone. A growing body of evidence links stem cells to several cancers, including brain and breast cancer.

    Scientists believe that stem cells normally work as a repair system in the body, thanks to their ability to replicate. They can divide and replace other cells that die off.

    That same ability to generate new cells, however, could take a turn for the worse if a rogue stem cell begins dividing out of control and forms a cancerous mass of cells -- a tumour.

    "We believe there could be a genetic accident that causes a cell that divides a little to divide a lot," said Dr. Sam Weiss, director of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute at the University of Calgary.

    Weiss, Kelly and the three other Calgary labs now working on this project have shown that cells taken from human brain tumours behave remarkably like stem cells under certain conditions.

    It's a finding that lends credence to the theory that people's own brain stem cells could cause cancerous brain tumours if they undergo a mutation.

    Kelly's research shows, for example, that cells from human brain tumours are able to grow into the three types of cells found in the central nervous system. Stem cells, similarly, have the potential to become different types of cells.

    But Kelly has also found an important difference between normal stem cells and those cells taken from brain tumours: the tumour cells divide without any stimulation. Normal stem cells, by contrast, only divide when necessary.

    The implication is that the cancer cells have undergone some kind of mutation that is causing them to multiply out of control, creating the tumours.

    The University of Calgary research found that when the tumour cells are placed in mice, they travel and form tumours throughout the brain. This is similar to how cancer attacks the human brain by spreading to more than one location.

    Kelly said this finding could provide a far better model for studying brain cancer. Until now, researchers have used cells that create a tumour that remains in one place in the brain, which doesn't really replicate the human experience with brain cancer.

    Ultimately, the scientists want to discover what they call an initiator cell, or cell of origin.

    This is the cell where they believe the cancer begins, a stem cell that, in theory, undergoes a mutation due to factors such as genetics and the environment. Following the mutation, the cells begin dividing out of control.

    Kelly hopes that if his work can isolate these stem cells, other researchers will be able to develop drugs to kill those cells.

    Many current cancer treatments kill or remove large parts of the tumour, but they may be missing the problem stem cells, which could explain why cancer often recurs.

    "You may be able to develop more targeted therapies," said Kelly, who is preparing his initial research for publication. He is also slated to present the findings at the Congress of Neurological Surgeons in October.

    Source: Calgary Herald © The Leader-Post (Regina) 2006

    Isolation of a Novel Population of Multipotent Adult Stem Cells from Human Hair Follicles
    Hong Yu*, Dong Fang, Suresh M. Kumar*, Ling Li, Thiennga K. Nguyen, Geza Acs*, Meenhard Herlyn and Xiaowei Xu*

    From the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine,* University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine; and The Wistar Institute, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    Hair follicles are known to contain a well-characterized niche for adult stem cells: the bulge, which contains epithelial and melanocytic stem cells. Using human embryonic stem cell culture conditions, we isolated a population of adult stem cells from human hair follicles that are distinctively different from known epithelial or melanocytic stem cells. These cells do not express squamous or melanocytic markers but express neural crest and neuron stem cell markers as well as the embryonic stem cell transcription factors Nanog and Oct4. These precursor cells proliferate as spheres, are capable of self-renewal, and can differentiate into multiple lineages.

    Differentiated cells not only acquire lineage-specific markers but also demonstrate appropriate functions in ex vivo conditions. Most of the Oct4-positive cells in human skin were located in the area highlighted by cytokeratin 15 staining in vivo. Our data suggest that human embryonic stem cell medium can be used to isolate and expand human adult stem cells. Using this method, we isolated a novel population of multipotent adult stem cells from human hair follicles, and these cells appear to be located in the bulge area. Human hair follicles may provide an accessible, autologous source of adult stem cells for therapeutic application.

    Source: American Journal of Pathology. 2006;168:1879-1888 © 2006 American Society for Investigative Pathology

    Stem Cell Therapeutics Announces Issuance of Third US Patent
    Stem Cell Therapeutics Corp. ("SCT") is pleased to announce that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has granted U.S. Patent 7,048,934 to the company's wholly-owned subsidiary, Stem Cell Therapeutics Inc. The patent, entitled "Combined Regulation of Neural Cell Production", protects novel methods of treating patients suffering from a variety of central nervous system (CNS) disorders including stroke, brain injury, Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, Huntington's disease, and others. The combined regulation method of neural cell production taught in the patent has the potential to be a key technology, required for the successful development of stem cell based approaches for the treatment of many CNS diseases.

    "I am greatly encouraged by the issuance of this patent, as it claims the concept of a combined approach to successful regeneration of brain tissue" said Dr. Joseph Tucker, President and CEO of Stem Cell Therapeutics. "The need to both increase the number of neural stem cells and induce their differentiation to appropriate cell types is likely to be a key step in a variety of stem cell based approaches to the treatment of neurological disorders".

    Exploiting the capacity of neural stem cells to regenerate lost or dysfunctional brain tissue is one of the most potent therapeutic strategies currently in clinical development. A significant challenge faced by developers of such clinical approaches is that a substantial expansion in stem cell number needs to occur that is coupled with a directed differentiation of those stem cells to appropriate cell types. In the absence of meeting both requirements, a stem cell based therapy may suffer from reduced effectiveness.

    The new patent describes methods to enhance the formation of neuronal or glial precursor cells from neural stem cells. U.S. Patent 7,048,934 is the third patent to issue to Stem Cell Therapeutics from an intellectual property estate that includes more than 35 pending applications filed worldwide.

    About Stem Cell Therapeutics Corp.:

    Stem Cell Therapeutics Corp. is a biotechnology company focused on the development of its technology platform and intellectual property to selectively induce a patient's own stem cells to proliferate in the brain. SCT's core technology, which includes its lead therapeutic product NTx(TM)-265, has been demonstrated to increase the number of innate adult stem cells that grow in place when this therapeutic approach is applied to test animals. SCT plans to develop this fundamental technology further for specific disease treatments such as stroke and potentially Huntington's disease, Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative conditions.

    Source: Stem Cell Therapeutics Corp.

    Stem Cell Therapeutics Corp. Announces Issuance of Second US Patent
    Stem Cell Therapeutics Corp. (SCT) is pleased to announce that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has granted U.S. Patent 7,033,995 to the company's wholly-owned subsidiary, Stem Cell Therapeutics Inc. The patent, entitled "Production of Radial Glial Cells", protects novel methods of producing radial glial cells in the brain. The production of radial glial cells in the brain of a patient suffering from a central nervous system (CNS) disease has the potential to be a fundamental technology in the field, key to the successful development of neural stem cell based approaches for the treatment of many CNS diseases. CNS diseases possibly affected by successful implementation of this technology include stroke, acute brain injury, Alzheimer's disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Huntington's disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, and Parkinson's disease.

    "I am pleased by the issuance of this, our second U.S. patent, as it demonstrates the continuing expansion and maturation of our extensive intellectual property portfolio" said Dr. Joseph Tucker, President and CEO of Stem Cell Therapeutics. "We are committed to developing a broad and deep pipeline of potent stem cell based therapies with great potential for the treatment of serious diseases".

    The ability to harness the power of a patient's own neural stem cells to regenerate lost brain tissue following stroke or other forms of brain damage represents one of the most extraordinary and powerful potential therapies under development in the neurosciences today. However, one of the major remaining challenges faced in developing such a therapeutic approach lies in inducing newly formed cells to migrate to the site in the brain where regeneration is needed.

    During fetal brain development, the role of instructing neurons where to migrate to falls to specialized cells called radial glia, which function like a ladder for neurons to climb on while they migrate to their proper position in the brain. Unfortunately for brain regeneration, radial glial cells are only present in the developing brain and they completely disappear as the brain matures, with the result that there are no radial glial cells found in the adult brain.

    The new patent describes methods to cause neural stem cells present in the adult brain to make radial glia. The new radial glial cells act like those found in the developing fetal brain and direct the migration of newly generated neurons out into the deep tissues of the brain.

    U.S. Patent 7,033,995 is the second patent to issue to Stem Cell Therapeutics from an intellectual property estate that includes more than 35 pending applications filed worldwide.

    About Stem Cell Therapeutics Corp.

    Stem Cell Therapeutics Corp. is a biotechnology company focused on the development of its technology platform and intellectual property to selectively induce a patient's own stem cells to proliferate in the brain. SCT's core technology, which includes its lead therapeutic product NTx(TM)-265, has been demonstrated to increase the number of innate adult stem cells that grow in place when this therapeutic approach is applied to test animals. SCT plans to develop this fundamental technology further for specific disease treatments such as stroke and potentially Huntington's disease, Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative conditions.

    Source: Stem Cell Therapeutics Corp Press Release

    Turkey Forms Advisory Committee for Stem Cells Research
    The Turkish Ministry of Health has introduced regulations regarding stem cell studies.

    The “Scientific Advisers Committee for Stem Cell Transfers” was established to adjust research studies to meet the necessities of modern science and issued a report titled, “Non-Embryonic Stem Cell Studies Guide for Clinical Reasons”

    Source: Zaman Daily News Copyright© 1995-2004 Feza Newspaper Publishing Co.

    Stem Cell Innovations, Inc. files patents relating to production of human motor neurons and progenitors
    Cells may be useful in therapies for ALS, Parkinson´s, Multiple Sclerosis and other Neuroodegenerative Diseases.

    Stem Cell Innovations, Inc. has filed a patent application protecting the differentiation of its proprietary human pluripotent stem cells (PCs) into neural progenitor cells and purified populations of motor neurons. These cells will initially be used in the Company´s core drug discovery and toxicology platform. The Company is also exploring therapeutic applications of these cells.

    Dr. James Kelly, CEO of Stem Cell Innovations, Inc. (SCI), stated, "These cells have significant potential in both drug discovery and cell therapies to treat diseases such as ALS, Parkinson´s, Huntington´s, Multiple Sclerosis, and Spinal Cord Injury. Obtaining and protecting neural progenitor cells, as well as purified populations of motor neurons from our PCs, is a significant step for the company." Kelly added, "We are already in discussions with companies that have expressed interest in these cells."

    Stem Cell Innovations is actively seeking to make its PC cells widely available to universities and other not-for-profit institutions to rapidly advance the potential of the cells for the benefit of people and the Company.

    About Stem Cell Innovations, Inc.

    Stem Cell Innovations (SCI) is a cell biology company with offices in New Jersey, Houston, TX and Leiden, the Netherlands. SCI has developed and protected a unique pluripotent stem cell called the PC(TM). PCs have great potential in that they can be differentiated into virtually all cell types, and qualify for federal funding since PCs are not subject to the restrictions in National Institutes of Health funding imposed on Embryonic Stem cells. The PC program expands on the Company´s currently marketed C3A human liver cell-based toxicology offerings.

    For more information about SCI, visit the company´s website at: www.stemcellinnovations.com 

    Source: Stem Cell Innovations Press Release

    Two stem cell receptors aid brain injury repair
    A research team has identified two receptors that increase the number of restorative stem cells as a response to brain injury.

    This knowledge, they contend, could lead to development of new drugs that target the two stem cell receptors -- called EGFR and Notch1, gp-130 -- which are key players in brain regeneration.

    The research, conducted by Steve Levison, co-author of the study and professor of neuroscience at the UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School in Newark, along with researchers from Penn State University and the San Raffaele Telethon Institute for Gene Therapy in Milan, Italy, appears in the latest issue of The Journal of Neuroscience.

    The researchers used a rat model to study a condition called perinatal hypoxia/ischemia, a disruption of blood and oxygen flowing to the brain of a newborn. The study revealed that a neonatal brain injury triggers a proliferation of stem cells within the brain, doubling the number of these cells after just three days. This regeneration response is choreographed by the two specific receptors the researchers were able to identify.

    "We're beginning to identify some of the signals that are required to stimulate this repair process from these resident stem cells," explained Levison. "There is a small response that naturally occurs, so we need to expand this natural response to injury so we can have more complete repair of the brain after injury."

    He said the research could mean that in the future, transplanting new cells into the body -- from embryonic stem cells -- may not be necessary to cure some brain diseases.

    In infants who have suffered brain damage, Levison said it may be possible to "go in and try to repair the brain while it is still developing," enabling the infant to lead a more normal life.

    Wise Young, professor and chairman of the Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience at Rutgers University, called the research "exciting" because of its potential implications in addressing conditions such as cerebral palsy.

    "This is really a very nice paper because it states very strongly that stem cells play a role in neonatal brain damage repair," he said.

    Levison said he and his team believe their findings will be applicable to conditions like cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis.

    In addition, he said, adult stroke victims or individuals who have suffered traumatic brain injuries also may benefit.

    "We're cautiously optimistic that this will really work some day," Levison said.

    Source: NJ.com © 2006 NJ.com. All Rights Reserved.

    Epi-embryonic stem cells?
    Researchers have provided clues about a potentially new source of human stem cells that are physically close to the actual embryo, but miles away from the controversy surrounding its use in research. Last night, at the Keystone meeting on stem cells, Ursula Manuelpillai at the Monash Institute of Medical Research in Victoria, Australia presented a poster in which they detail the potential of human amniotic epithelial cells (HAECs) in the inner membrane that protects the fetus during pregnancy.

    The researchers exposed HAECs to factors that nudge them to differentiate into cell types. Indeed, the cells displayed markers that suggest they differentiated into a variety of cells, such as astrocytes, neurons, hepatocytes, and pancreatic cells. "I’m not saying the cells are pluripotent, but they certainly have the markers of pluripotency," Manuelpillai told me.

    HAECs did not produce teratomas in mice testes -- an initially disappointing result, Manuelpillai said, since teratomas are characteristic of pluripotent cells. But upon further consideration, Manuelpillai noted that this inability might make them more useful for therapy down the road.

    In contrast to cells from umbilical cords, HAECs are easier to isolate and also divide more easily, and one membrane can yield 60 million cells -- significantly more than what one gets from umbilical cords, Manuelpillai said. She added that she and her colleagues have submitted the paper for publication, and plan to continue injecting the cells into diseased mice to test their therapeutic potential.

    Source: The Scientist Blogs - © 1986-2006 The Scientist

    India formulating policy on stem cells: Sibal
    India is formulating a policy on stem cell research, Rajya Sabha was informed on Thursday.

    In a reply to a written question, Minister of Science and Technology Kapil Sibal said, "At present draft national guidelines are being finalised jointly by the Indian Council of Medical Research and the Department of Biotechnology, based on which the policy will evolve".

    Sibal said experts had been invited from the US to discuss setting up of a current good manufacturing practices facility.

    Source: HindustanTimes.com © HT Media Ltd. 2006.

    Group Releases Ethical Guidelines On Stem Cell Research To Clarify Conflicting International Policies

    A group of 60 bioethicists and stem cell researchers from 14 countries on Friday released ethical guidelines for stem cell research in order to clarify conflicting international policies. The scientists, known as the Hinxton Group, released the guidelines at a three-day conference at Cambridge University in Britain in order to advocate for consistent policies between nations.

    The guidelines include asking journals to require researchers to confirm that their findings correspond with national guidelines, establishing a public Web site for researchers to share findings, and building an ethical consensus between nations on new areas of research.

    Robin Lovell-Badge, head of developmental genetics at the U.K. National Institute for Medical Research, said, "It is vital to address the restrictions and fears that are hampering the progress of science and complicating the ability to do stem cell research across national boundaries." For example, Lovell-Badge said a German stem cell researcher working in the United Kingdom "would be committing a criminal act under German law" because the research is prohibited in Germany.

    The guidelines say countries should not punish scientists "who want to travel to do work that is undertaken with scientific and ethical integrity". Julian Savulescu, a member of the Hinxton Group and an ethicist at Oxford University, said the guidelines also apply to "countries with very vague policies," such as China.

    Links:
    BBC News - Conflicting laws hinder research

    National Institute for Medical Research

    Using neural growth factor could allow researchers to mass produce stem cells for treatment of disease
    Human embryonic stem cells (hES) offer great hope for the treatment of some devastating diseases, but finding a way to keep enough of these cells usable and healthy for transplantation in patients has been an ongoing problem. Now scientists at UC Irvine have discovered a way to keep large quantities of these cells alive, a finding that could potentially lead to mass production of hES cells for therapeutic use at lower cost.

    These findings appear in the journal Nature Biotechnology.

    UCI stem cell researchers Peter Donovan and Leslie Lock, along with April Pyle of Johns Hopkins University, found that molecules known as neurotrophins have a significant effect on whether hES cells survive in the laboratory. Although stem cells have the ability to self-renew and to differentiate into any cell in the body, it has been a challenge to keep them alive as single cells in an undifferentiated state.

    In their studies, Donovan and Lock added neurotrophins to hES cells in the laboratory to see the effect they would have on cell survival. Neurotrophins normally encourage the survival of tissue in the nervous system. When three members of the family of neurotrophin growth factors - brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), neurotrophin 3 (NT-3), and neurotrophin 4 (NT-4) - were added to hES cells in culture, the cells' survival increased 36-fold.

    "Keeping hES cells alive as single cells has been extremely difficult," Donovan said. "This fact has kept us from producing enough cells to be useful for therapy, and has limited our ability to genetically manipulate the cells, which we must do before they can be transplanted into patients. It appears that if we treat hES cells with neurotrophins, we can produce more of them faster and, hopefully, at much lower cost."

    Understanding the role that neurotrophins play in stem cell survival could also help researchers with another major problem they face in using hES cells for therapy. Rather than treating disease, undifferentiated stem cells that are transplanted into the body often form tumors instead, causing harm to the patient. A significant challenge has been to prevent the formation of tumors by ensuring that all cells are differentiated before they are transplanted. The studies by Donovan and Lock show that this is even more crucial when that transplantation is made into areas of the body rich in neurotrophins.

    "Much of the research regarding stem cell therapy today focuses on areas involving the nervous system, such as the spinal cord," Donovan said. "Neurotrophins help the growth of tissues in those areas and are commonly found in the nervous system. Therefore, when we use stem cells for therapy in those areas, we must be especially careful that no undifferentiated cells are transplanted where they could respond to neurotrophins and form tumors." The work by Donovan and Lock provides a potential solution to the problem. By treating stem cells in culture with chemicals that block the action of neurotrophins on hES cells, Donovan said, scientists can kill the undifferentiated stem cells before they are implanted into the body.

    According to Donovan, the studies also offer further proof that new stem cell lines need to develop beyond those already in existence. Federally approved hES lines currently used for research were not created in the presence of growth factors such as neurotrophins. The work undertaken by Donovan and Lock indicates that cell lines not created in these optimal conditions may eventually mutate and lose their usefulness for therapeutic purposes.

    http://www.uci.edu

    Source: News-Medical.net ©2006 News-Medical.Net

    Successful Completion Evaluation And Validation Of Human Neural Crest Stem Cell Line - Stem Cell Research Institute, Inc
    U.S. BioDefense is pleased to announce today that it has successfully completed the evaluation and validation of its human neural crest stem cells as a part of its agreement with the University of British Columbia.

    Director of Research, Dr. Cyndi Chen, Ph.D. stated "This is exciting news for us and the medical community. The possibilities of developing neural crest stem cell therapies and treatments for a number of degenerative diseases give hopes to those who suffer from these debilitating diseases."

    Having passed the initial validation phase, U.S. BioDefense, Inc. is now working toward a full licensing relationship and will begin pre-clinical analysis of how this cell line can be utilized. Currently, the company is considering investigating the stem cells applications in combating ALS and Parkinson's disease. U.S. BioDefense, Inc. joins StemCells, Inc. in the fight to find a therapeutic treatment for neurodegenerative diseases in the United States.

    On September of 2005, U.S. BioDefense, Inc. received its first stem cell line. The stem cell line is part of an option to license world patent application WO 03/054202 A1 and US patient application 5,958,767 entitled "Generation of Human Neural Crest Stem Cell Line and Its Utilization in Human Transplantation" and related applications with the University of British Columbia. The line was developed by Dr. Seung Kim and has potential applications in the development of therapeutic treatments for a variety of neurogenerative diseases.

    CEO David Chin stated that, "We are pleased to announce to our shareholders the completion of the evaluation phase and look to move forward on completing the negotiation to acquire this amazing technology. Currently, the existence of immature multi-potent stem cells has been identified in the embryonic and adult human brain and several groups have generated stable, perpetual neural stem cell lines that were utilized for cell replacement or gene transfer therapies in animal models of human neurological disorders. To this end, we will continue our progress to investigate the potentials of these cells for future clinical prospects."

    About Stem Cell Research Institute, Inc.

    SCRI is a wholly owned portfolio company of U.S. BioDefense, a strategic biotechnology transfer and holding company, which is focused on accelerating Stem Cell Research. SCRI has an option to Exclusively License the Neural Crest Stem Cell Line which has been validated by Director of Research Dr. Cyndi Chen in a collaboration agreement with AntiCancer, Inc. The long term goal is to research, develop, and commercialize novel approaches on utilizing human neural crest stem cell and their potentials in human transplantation to treat neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's and ALS.

    Source: U.S. BioDefense, Inc. Press Release

    Scientists map brain area that may help find human brain stem cells
    A study led by a Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon has provided the first comprehensive map of a part of the adult human brain containing astrocytes, cells known to produce growth factors critical to the regeneration of damaged neural tissue and that potentially serve as brain stem cells.

    The mapping study - using special microscopes and chemical analysis of 42 samples of brain tissue taken at autopsy from seven people, and 43 samples of tissue removed with permission from living patients as part of unrelated neurosurgical procedures - also revealed evidence of the move of cells lining the ventricles, or ependymal cells, to the same area of the brain, a discovery expected to provide further insight into the critical relationship among ependymal cell, astrocytes and potential brain stem cells.

    "Although we have not confirmed the existence of human brain stem cells in vivo or their ability to migrate to parts of the brain that need repair, what we have learned from this complete map of the lateral wall of the subventricle zone or SVZ, including the unexpected existence of ependymal cells there, suggests that additional research is warranted," says Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa, M.D., lead author of the study and an assistant professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. "If there is stem-cell-like activity in the SVZ, this discovery could help pave the way for a number of therapeutic treatments for treating brain cancer, neurodegenerative diseases and brain damage."

    The subventricle zone refers to tissue and cells that lie next to the ventricles or tubes located in the center of the brain that act as conduits for the cerebral spinal fluid that bathes the entire brain. The ependymal layer is a layer of cells that make up the outer wall of these tubes. Behind that layer lies the SVZ.

    Previous studies have shown that astrocytes located in rodent SVZs travel to the olfactory bulb, where they develop into new brain cells, according to Quinones. However, the human SVZ is structured differently. And even though astrocytes have been identified in the adult human SVZ, there is no evidence that they migrate to other parts of adult brains and behave like brain stem cells.

    Because the potential existence of human brain stem cells could have an enormous impact in understanding and subsequently developing treatments for brain diseases and injury, Quinones says his team set out to learn more about how new cells are formed in this critical area in the adult human brain.

    "To date, only a small portion of this region has been mapped. This new study give us a better understanding of the organization of this SVZ and the cell-to-cell interaction throughout the SVZ," says Quinones.

    The study also revealed that there were displaced ependymal cells in the SVZ that should not be there, according to Quinones. And although no firm connection has been established between astrocytes and ependymal cells, the fact that they are both in this region warrants further study.

    "We do not think that ependymal cells are stem cells," he says. "However, they might mutate and become cancerous. They might be communicating or relating to astrocytes. At this point, we are only scratching the surface. But if we can achieve a better understanding of why these cells are there and how they function and/or migrate, this could help us treat brain tumors such as ependynomas or even gliomas as well as help us treat neurodegenerative diseases and brain trauma," he says.

    Quinones says an important aspect of this study is the use of tissue removed during therapeutic surgery that would have otherwise been discarded.

    "We used the operating room as an extension of the laboratory. Instead of throwing tissue away, we asked patients if is was ok and then saved tissue to study it," he says.

    Quinones says the next step is to better understand the various roles of astrocytes in the adult human brain and patterns of potential migration of these cells.

    The study was conducted while Quinones was at the University of California at San Francisco and included researchers from the Department of Cellular Biology at the University of Valencia in Spain.

    http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org

    Source: News-Medical.net ©2006 News-Medical.Net

    Healtheuniverse Develops Technology to Create Non-Embryonic Adult Stem Cells From Fat
    Company Positioned to Perform First Human Clinical Trials Using Proprietary Stem Cell Technology

    COVINA, CA -- 02/14/2006 -- Healtheuniverse Inc. a diversified biotechnology development firm specializing in the development and commercialization of patented biopharmaceutical and biomedical products, announced today that its research has developed technology to create adult stem cells using fat. Scientific protocols are being prepared for the first human clinical trials using the company's proprietary stem cell technology. This technology uses adipose tissue, or fat which can be used as an abundant source of stem cells for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. The Company intends to sell this proprietary technology to physicians, clinicians and medical organizations through a packaged product line and licensing agreements within the worldwide regenerative medicine market which is estimated to grow to $500 billion by 2010.

    Fat cells are abundant in human beings of all ages and are easily accessible. Research demonstrates that up to 50 million potential stem cells can be derived from a pound of fat. The fat can be harvested confidently, consistently, and most of all safely from any individual from any age. Fat tissue contains stem cells, and research suggests they can be coaxed into other cell types, such as nerve, bone, muscle and blood vessels.

    "We believe there are currently no human trials in the United States evaluating the potential of stem cells derived from fat and we are moving toward being the first," stated Dr. Vipul Dev M.D., Chief Executive Officer of Healtheuniverse, Inc. "Our technology is focused on developing therapies using patients' own cells, as opposed to cells that might be donated by other individuals. Because fat is both abundantly available and easily accessible, it offers a practical source of stem cells. Just about everybody, even slender people, carries enough fat to yield a good supply of cells for their own treatment. Fat produces so many stem cells that there's no time-consuming need to grow more of them in the lab."

    About HEALTHeUNIVERSE Inc.

    HEALTHeUNIVERSE Inc. is a biotechnology development firm specializing in the development and commercialization of patented Biopharmaceutical and Biomedical products. We are engaged in research and development of regenerative medicine therapies using non-embryonic adult stem cells for use in plastic, reconstructive, orthopedic, vascular, and cardiac surgery. Healtheuniverse strives to be the first to commercialize the use of regenerative medicine in plastic and reconstructive surgery and to develop therapeutic uses in the most profitable commercial applications. More information on Healtheuniverse is available online at http://healtheuniverse.com/.

    SOURCE: Healtheuniverse, Inc.

    New Labs to Breed Super Stem Cells
    Scientists at Newcastle's International Centre for Life yesterday sent out a "message to the world" by building new laboratories to create a breed of super stem cell.

    Work starts today on two new laboratories which made history last year by becoming the first in Britain to clone a human embryo.

    When finished in six months' time, the £3.8m facilities ( funded by development agency One NorthEast ( will give researchers a contamination-free environment which meets strict standards needed for implanting stem cells into patients.

    Prof John Burn, medical director of Newcastle's Institute of Human Genetics based at the Centre for Life, said: "To turn our research into real treatments, we've got to try it on actual patients.

    "These new laboratories meet the very strict regulations to produce cells for that."

    He added: "This is sending a real message to the world that we are serious here in the North-East.

    "We are investing several million pounds in these labs. We didn't just get one lucky break. We are in this for the long run."

    The new facilities are expected to bring fresh hope to sufferers from diseases like Multiple Sclerosis, Diabetes, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

    Prof Burn said: "By this time next year, we'll have produced cells capable of being used in clinical trials, and I'm expecting research on eye disease could be the first to be put into practice."

    The investment is also expected to bring in interest from pharmaceutical companies looking for cells to test drugs on.

    Details of the grant, part of a pounds £9.8 million investment by One NorthEast, were originally announced in December. The money will help create two world-class facilities ( one in the Newcastle Fertility Centre at Life, run by Newcastle Hospitals NHS Trust, and a next door stem cell laboratory occupied by Newcastle University scientists.

    Prof Christopher Edwards, vice-chancellor of Newcastle University, said: "In the next few years, we aim to begin therapeutic stem cell trials to ameliorate a range of diseases. Research, ethical discussion and public engagement are all key elements of our approach."

    Alan Clarke, chief executive of One NorthEast said yesterday: "This is good news for the region and for the development of Science City."

    Source: The Journal - Newcastle-upon-Tyne

    Reality check for stem cell research
    By Susan Watts
    Science Editor, BBC Newsnight

    Stem cell science has been hailed as modern medicine's best hope - to treat the untreatable, to keep us fit in old age and even, perhaps, to help the severely disabled to walk again.

    But scandal in South Korea has rocked this science - with one of its leading proponents labelled a fraud, and as the scientists reflect on the ethics of their work and its practical limits, where does this leave us, the potential patients?

    Stem cells
    Stem cells are able to recreate themselves when they divide
    Stem cells, unlike ordinary cells, have the unique power to re-create themselves when they divide.

    There are two types: the first, adult stem cells, are cued up to become particular cell types - say nerve, blood, bone or heart. These can carry out valuable repairs - but only in their specialist part of the body.

    The second group is embryonic stem cells. Found in the early human embryo, these are highly sought after because they can re-create themselves indefinitely. Also, since they are not yet switched to become specific cell types, they have the potential to repair damaged and diseased organs anywhere in the body.

    Human egg use

    We spoke to experts in both stem cell types, to gauge the impact of the scandal of Dr Hwang - the stem cell scientist in South Korea who seemed so far ahead.

    Dr Hwang
    Is there still the enthusiasm for stem cell science in the wake of the Hwang scandal?
    Dr Hwang claimed to have created 11 stem cell lines from human embryos, cloned so that the cells exactly matched an individual patient - the Holy Grail of stem cell science.

    It turned out much of his work was fake, and crucially that he'd had to use far more human eggs than he'd said.

    The challenge now, for embryonic stem cell scientists at least, is to find ways to make stem cells without using vast quantities of human eggs - in short supply and, for some, ethically questionable.

    Hybrid research

    Stephen Minger, from Kings College in London, created the UK's first embryonic stem cell line, in 2003.

    Until now, he's relied on creating stem cells from left over embryos from IVF.

    Before the Hwang expose, he had hoped to join the elite club of scientists using cloning to study the cellular processes behind disease.

    Now, to avoid using up human eggs on an uncertain technique, he has a plan for a new - and potentially controversial - way around that: cloned human-animal hybrids.

    "What we and others would like to do is use non-human eggs - for instance rabbit eggs," Dr Minger says. But therapies, he adds, are at least 10 years away.

    New realism

    Roger Pedersen
    We hope that discoveries that are made quietly and without the glare of lights... will ultimately change the way we treat diseases
    Professor Roger Pedersen
    A team at the University of Cambridge has another plan. Roger Pedersen, director of the centre for stem cell research at the university, told us about a plan that avoids cloning, and fresh human eggs, and relies instead on off-the-shelf matches from a bank of stem cell lines from selected donors.

    Then there's the man with a third way to avoid the need for human eggs. Mohammed Taranissi runs one of the UK's most successful fertility clinics.

    He's promoting what he calls "stem-brid" technology, which uses the stem cell line itself as a surrogate egg.

    But there's a new realism now among embryonic stem cell scientists about how long it will be before they can help people.

    Adult stem cells

    Dr Anthony Mathur
    Maybe one day, rather than treating people with tablets, we'll just be treating them with their own cells
    Dr Anthony Mathur
    That leaves their counterparts working on adult stem cells. They now expect to deliver treatments much sooner.

    One team, at the London Chest Hospital, is using adult stem cells taken from a patient's own bone marrow to try to repair the damage caused by a heart attack.

    Dr Anthony Mathur is the cardiologist in charge of the trial - the largest of its kind in the world.

    He told Newsnight: "My passionate feeling here is that this type of therapy, cellular therapy, is going to revolutionise the way we practice medicine."

    Half the patients are treated with stem cells and half with just the fluid, or growth factor in which the cells are found.

    Neither Dr Mathur nor the patients know who's getting what but that's crucial in order to gather definitive, scientifically controlled data.

    Clinical trials 'within this year'

    Across London, another adult stem cell trial could yield results within months. At the Institute of Neurology, they hope to use unique adult stem cells from the lining of a patient's own nose to treat nerve and spinal cord injury.

    Professor Geoffrey Raisman, who's leading this research, told Newsnight:

    "The interest in embryonic stem cells has led to adult stem cells being very much neglected. And whereas I think for embryonic stem cells we're talking about a long time ahead before these cells are going to be in use, in our case we're thinking of clinical trials within this year."

    It would seem a safe bet that adult stem cells will deliver first - but the enthusiasm for this science as a whole is still there, despite the reality check brought about by Dr Hwang.

    Susan Watts' report was broadcast on Newsnight on Thursday, 9 February, 2006.

    Source: BBC Online

    Start date for work on stem cell centre
    Construction work on a new £35 million centre for stem cell research at Edinburgh University is expected to get under way this summer.

    The Centre for Regenerative Medicine, to be built at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary at Little France, will include the most advanced technologies now available in stem cell research, development and manufacture.

    University bosses this week invited construction firms to submit bids for the project, which is expected to take up to four years to build and kit out.

    The scientist who cloned Dolly the sheep, Professor Ian Wilmut, will be in charge of the centre.

    The university has done pioneering work in the stem cell field and was recently highlighted in the report of the UK Stem Cell Initiative.

    In August last year, scientists at the Edinburgh University-based Institute for Stem Cell Research created the world's first clutch of nerve stem cells in what could prove to be a major breakthrough in the race to treat degenerative diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

    It was a breakthrough because it is the first time that scientists have been able to grow and sustain pure brain cells.

    Source: news.scotsman.com ©2006 Scotsman.com

    Powerful Technique for Multiplying Adult Stem Cells May Aid Therapies
    Adult stem cells may be free of the ethical concerns that hamper embryonic stem cell research, but they still pose formidable scientific challenges. Chief among these is the doggedness with which adult stem cells differentiate into mature tissue the moment they’re isolated from the body. This makes it nearly impossible for researchers to multiply them in the laboratory. And because adult stem cells are so rare, that makes it difficult to use them for treating disease.

    Now, researchers in the lab of Whitehead Institute Member and MIT professor of biology Harvey Lodish have discovered a way to multiply an adult stem cell 30-fold, an expansion that offers tremendous promise for treatments such as bone marrow transplants and perhaps even gene therapy.

    “A 30-fold increase is ten times higher than anyone’s achieved before,” says Lodish, senior author on the paper, which will be published January 22 online in Nature Medicine.

    Unlike embryonic stem cells, adult stem cells are generally tissue-specific, each one destined to develop into several kinds of cells. Chengcheng Zhang, a postdoctoral researcher in the Lodish lab, was determined to develop a way to multiply adult stem cells once they’ve been isolated from tissue. Achieving this goal required some intricate laboratory sleuthing.

    Zhang began by studying adult hematopoietic—blood cell forming—stem cells. Offspring of some of these cells develop into all of the red and white blood cells, while others form the immune system. Using fetal tissue from mice as the source of these cells, Zhang discovered a population of cells that were not stem cells, yet appeared to interact with stem cells, preserving and allowing them to multiply in the fetal environment. When he isolated the stem cells in the lab and cultured them in a dish by themselves, they died. When he mixed them with these newly discovered cells, they thrived. But how did these new cells manage to sustain the stem cells so dramatically?

    Zhang used a microarray platform to search for genes that were active in these newly discovered cells, but not active in similar neighboring cells. Some such genes, he reasoned, might encode secreted proteins that sustained stem cells. Eventually, he located a number of such genes.

    In the fall of 2003 and early 2005, Zhang reported in the journal Blood how one of these genes codes for a growth factor protein called IGF-2. When Zhang purified IGF-2 and added it in a solution to hematopoietic stem cells that he had isolated, the stem cells increased eight-fold in number.

    Zhang then discovered that two more growth factor proteins, Angiopoietin-like 2 and –3, abbreviated as angpt12 and angpt13, were also abundantly expressed in these stem-cell supporting cells. When Zhang combined these two proteins with IGF-2 and added them to hematopoietic stem cells, the result was a 30-fold increase.

    “People have been culturing and working with these cells for years, and never before have we seen such an increase,” says Zhang.

    A 30-fold expansion, if replicated in human cells, could open up a number of doors for researchers working on adult stem cells. Currently, patients with certain blood diseases are treated with stem cells. These stem cells can be acquired either from a donor’s bone marrow, or even from cord blood (donated cord blood, or the patient’s own). Still, in both these cases, the actual number of stem cells from a donor often falls short of the number needed to adequately treat the patient. This technique could directly address this problem.

    Gene therapy is another area where these findings can be of immediate value, Lodish says.

    With gene therapy, a genetic defect is corrected by administering a healthy version of the gene into a patient. For example, a physician isolates hematopoietic stem cells from a patient, introduces a harmless virus into them that expresses a correct version of the mutated gene, and then re-administers the stem cells back into the patients. While many clinical trials have succeeded, some ended tragically when the virus ended up activating a cancer-causing gene. Because of this, the Food and Drug Administration is not currently approving any gene-therapy clinical trials.

    “If, before the stem cells have been re-introduced into the patients, the physicians could first multiply them in the lab, they could then run assays determining if the virus has landed in any undesirable places,” says Lodish. “They could then discard those bad cells, and only administer the good ones to the patients.”

    But most importantly, these findings aid basic research. “We want to know all sorts of things, like what genes are active in this stem cell, or how this stem cell decides to develop into one kind of cell as opposed to another,” says Lodish.

    Lodish and his colleagues are collaborating with researchers at Lund University in Sweden to repeat these results with human cord blood.

    This research was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.

    Source: South Asian Women's Forum

    Hair follicle stem cells regenerate severed nerves and could rival embryonic stem cells

    Scientists working for the Californian based company, Anti-Cancer, have found that stem cells taken from hair follicles are able to regenerate severed nerves in mice. The mice showed normal movement after the stem cells were injected.

    The research, reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, suggest that stem cells taken from hair follicles could have similar potential to embryonic stem cells for forming different tissue types. Hair follicle stem cells could be obtained easily, and would also provide an ethically superior alternative to fetal and embryonic stem cells.

    Researchers are investigating their therapeutic potential to treat neurological diseases.

    Source: Corethics.com

    Brg-1 appears to control how stem cells become various kinds of brain cells

    Researchers at the Oregon National Primate Research Center at Oregon Health & Science University ( OHSU ) have discovered one key gene that appears to control how stem cells become various kinds of brain cells.
    The finding has significant implications for the study of Parkinson's disease, brain and spinal cord injury, and other conditions or diseases that might be combated by replacing lost or damaged brain cells.

    The research is published in the journal Developmental Biology.

    "In the early stages of brain development prior to birth, brain stem cells, also known as neural stem cells, will differentiate into neurons," explained Larry Sherman, at the Oregon National Primate Research Center. "In later stages, these same stem cells suddenly start becoming glial cells, which perform a number of functions that include supporting the neurons. We wanted to find out what factors cause this switch in differentiation. We also wanted to determine if the process can be controlled and used as a possible therapy. What amazed us is that it turns out a single gene may be responsible for this incredibly important task."

    The key gene that the researchers studied is called brahma-related gene-1 ( Brg-1 ) that is found in both mice and humans. This protein had been previously studied extensively in human cancers, but not in the nervous system.

    To determine the precise role of Brg-1, Sherman, in collaboration with Steven Matsumoto from the Integrative Biosciences Department at the OHSU School of Dentistry, bred mice lacking the gene in the nervous system.

    This resulted in the development of embryos with smaller brains containing neurons but virtually no glial cells. When they isolated neural stem cells, placed them into cell culture and then removed Brg1, the cells in the culture turned into neurons but failed to differentiate into glia.

    "This research shows us that in mice, Brg-1 is a critical signal that prevents stem cells from turning into neurons at the wrong time. However, since we can manipulate Brg1 expression in stem cells in culture, we now have a powerful way to generate neurons that could be used to replace cells lost in a variety of diseases and conditions that affect the brain and spinal cord. That is our next step." said Sherman. "Since the process only involves a single gene, it is highly amenable for the development of drugs targeted at promoting stem cell differentiation in the adult nervous system."

    While much more research needs to be conducted, the scientists believe these findings could play a role in the development of therapies to combat a variety of diseases and conditions. For instance, Parkinson's disease is related to the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells.

    Researchers hypothesize that it may be possible to correctly time the expression of brg-1 in neuronal stem cells either in a culture dish or in the brain to replace the lost dopamine-producing cells.

    Another possibility would be the replacement of lost or damaged motor neurons in patients who have suffered brain or spinal cord damage.

    Source: Oregon Health & Science University, 2006

    Comprehensive New Book on Stem Cells Published by Advanced Cell Technology's Dr. Robert Lanza
    One of the world's leading authorities on embryonic stem cells, Robert Lanza, M.D., VP, Medical & Scientific Development for Advanced Cell Technology (OTCBB: ACTC), has released a comprehensive new book on embryonic stem cell research and its real world applications, Essentials of Stem Cell Biology (Academic Press, November 2005, Hardcover).

    Essentials of Stem Cell Biology is an abridged version of Dr. Lanza's bestselling reference, Handbook of Stem Cells, a two-volume set. The new work incorporates into a single volume all the essential subject matter of the original two-volume edition. The material in the first set has been reworked in an accessible format suitable for both students and general readers interested in following the latest advances in stem cells, and includes numerous full color presentations. The new format is designed to promote better understanding of the scientific and ethics issues posed by adult and embryonic stem cell research and the associated real-life applications.

    The book includes a chapter written by Dr. Lanza's equally renowned colleague, Michael West, Ph.D., Chairman, President & Chief Scientific Officer of Advanced Cell Technology.

    Dr. Lanza, who also serves as adjunct Professor at the Institute of Regenerative Medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, is in great demand within the scientific community and the media, not only for his groundbreaking work but also for his unique ability to cut through the confusion and controversy, and clearly articulate the issues and delineate the benefits surrounding the important research he and others are doing with embryonic stem cells for the betterment of humanity.

    Doctors Lanza and West have both been widely quoted on the world stage, including recent media interviews for leading publications and television networks in the U.S. and South Korea, which looked to them for their expert input on the scientific and ethical issues involved in recent breaking-news events.

    Essentials of Stem Cell Biology includes chapters written by thought leaders John Gearhart, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland; Brigid Hogan, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina; Douglas Melton, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts; Roger Pedersen, Department of Surgery, University of Cambridge and Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, U.K.; James Thomson, Wisconsin Regional Primate Research Center, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, and E. Donnall Thomas, Director Emeritus, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington.

    About Advanced Cell Technology, Inc.

    Advanced Cell Technology, Inc. is a biotechnology company applying stem cell technology in the emerging field of regenerative medicine. The company is currently headquartered in Worcester, Massachusetts. For more information about the company, visit http://www.advancedcell.com

    Source: © 2006 Genetic Engineering News, All Rights Reserved

    Chemokine Therapeutics to present phase 1 clinical data at the 2006 Blood and Bone Marrow Transplantation Conference
    VANCOUVER, Jan. 9 - Chemokine Therapeutics Corp, a biotechnology company developing drugs in the field of chemokines, today announced that the 2006 Blood and Marrow Transplantation Tandem Meetings has accepted the results of the first phase I study of Chemokine Therapeutics' second lead drug candidate product, CTCE-0214 for public presentation at the 2006 Annual Meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii.

    Chemokine's drug CTCE-0214 is designed to mobilize white blood cells and stem cells for patients with low white blood cell count and those requiring stem cell transplantation. The text of the presentation is available through the American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation website at http://www.asbmt.org.

    Further information from the phase I study that was previously announced by the Chemokine will be presented at the Blood and Bone Marrow Transplantation Tandem Meetings on Sunday, February 19, 2006.

    As a result of the promising data obtained from the initial study, Chemokine has launched a phase Ib study to evaluate the safety and preliminary efficacy of the drug. Chemokine has commenced dosing subjects in the first of a three-stage protocol that will include at least 50 volunteers. The study will allow the Chemokine to evaluate the safety, pharmacodynamics, and pharmacokinetic profile of CTCE-0214 as a single injection, multi-dose, and in combination with granulocyte colony stimulating factor (G-CSF). The study will provide direction for further development and the potential benefit to patients requiring rapid immune system cells recovery as well as those requiring stem cell transplantation.

    "Neutropenia has been recognized as a major risk factor for the development of infections in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. With more than 200,000 patients requiring immune stimulators during the course of chemotherapy treatment, effective strategies in addition to G-CSF are needed to prevent and manage infectious complications in neutropenic cancer patients," said Dr. Hassan Salari, President and CEO of Chemokine Therapeutics Corp.

    About CTCE-0214
    CTCE-0214 is a stable peptide agonist of stromal cell-derived factor-1 (SDF-1), a key signaling molecule in the proliferation, homing, engraftment and expansion of hematopoietic stem cells and white blood cells. SDF-1 is also believed to work as a traffic controller for infection-fighting white blood cells and progenitor cell migration providing an essential function to combat immunosuppression. CTCE-0214, based on Chemokine's preclinical research, mimics the activity of the natural chemokine SDF-1 by increasing the level of white blood cells (neutrophils), bleeding prevention cells (platelets) and stem cells (primitive blood forming cells) in the blood.

    About Chemokine Therapeutics Corp.
    Chemokine Therapeutics is a product-focused biotechnology company developing drugs that harness the therapeutic potential of stem cells through chemokine pathways. Chemokines are a class of proteins which signal biological responses from stem cells that play a critical role in the growth, differentiation, and maturation of cells necessary for fighting infection, as well as tissue repair and regeneration. Stem cells are the master primitive cells that give rise to all of the cells and organs in the body. Chemokines are one of the major mediators of stem cell activity including stem cell growth, differentiation and maturation. Chemokine Therapeutics is a leader in research in this field. Chemokine has five products with two lead product candidates in clinical trials; CTCE-0214, for enhancing the immune system, and CTCE-9908, to prevent the spread of cancer and its continued growth. For more information, please visit its website at www.chemokine.net.

    Source: Chemokine Therapeutics Corp Press Release

    'Give stem cells to ill patients'
    The scientist behind the cloning of Dolly the Sheep is calling for stem cell treatment to be offered to people with terminal illnesses.

    Professor Ian Wilmut told The Scotsman that the treatment, which had not been fully tested, could save lives or at least speed up the pace of research. 

    He said he knew patients prepared to take part in such trials.

    "If we wait until things are totally tested and analysed in animals, it will deny some people treatment," he said.

    'Slow decline'

    Stem cells - the body's master cells - are able to grow indefinitely, producing "daughter" cells that can form different tissues.

    The cells and their derivatives could enable the discovery of new drugs for the prevention of inherited diseases such as motor neurone disease and cancer.

    In the longer term, scientists say, they could treat disorders such as liver disease, Parkinson's Disease, multiple sclerosis, diabetes and spinal cord injury by directly replacing damaged cells.

    The head of the Institute of Human Genetics at Newcastle University, Professor John Burn, told BBC Radio Five Live that Prof Wilmut's suggestion could be popular among people suffering from serious diseases.

    "If you've developed a treatment that might be beneficial in, say, motor neurone disease, then it's reasonable to allow people who are in the last stage of the disease to offer themselves.

    "It sounds like they're being used as guinea pigs but sometimes people with a terminal illness volunteer to be used as guinea pigs if it will advance medical treatment for others," he said.

    New funding

    Professor Wilmut, appointed this month as the first director of Edinburgh University's new Centre for Regenerative Medicine, agreed that some patients would be keen to participate.

    "I've come across people who have neuro-degenerative disease who face a steady, slow decline and premature death, a very unpleasant situation.

    "Imagine you've got motor neurone disease and you've got no movement below your neck. You hear reports of benefits from stem cells in news reports, on the internet. That person would be very enthusiastic."

    He said the benefits of using such treatments before they had been properly tested might outweigh the risks.

    "If we wait until all the tests have been done, some patients will have passed away."

    The new centre of which Prof Wilmut is head aims to use stem cell research to develop treatments for human diseases.

    His appointment followed a £50m award from the government to fund stem cell science over the next two years.

    Source: BBC News Online

    Stem Cell Therapy International Names Eminent Stem Cell Research Scientist Igor Katkov to Its Medical and Scientific Advisory Board

    Wednesday December 14

    TAMPA, FL - Stem Cell Therapy International, Inc, a leading company in the field of research and development of stem cell transplantation therapy and regenerative medicine, today appointed Igor Katkov, Ph.D., to its Medical and Scientific Advisory Board. Dr. Katkov holds an academic position at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) and he is a member of The Burnham Institute Stem Cell Center in La Jolla, CA. His expertise combines a knowledge of physics, biology, biochemistry and stem cell biology. Since 1988, he has been a scientific consultant to the Institute for Cryobiology and Cryomedicine in Kharkov, Ukraine. He has gained unique experience in working with adult, cord blood, and embryonic stem cells, and is an active consultant in organizing a cord blood stem cell bank in St. Petersburg, in the Russian Federation.

    As a member of the SCTI Medical and Scientific Advisory Board, Dr. Katkov will review new technologies and business opportunities, he will develop and write scientific papers and abstracts on SCTI stem cell (SC) technology and patient studies for publication in scientific and industry-related journals as well as obtaining research and development funding grants for stem cell-related projects. One of his major focuses will be QC of the SC samples, monitoring of SC processing, shipping, and maintenance of the cell quality after resuscitation, as well as increasing efficacy of processing, cryopreservation and storage protocols.

    Calvin C. Cao, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Stem Cell Therapy International, said, "We are proud to announce that Igor Katkov has agreed to join the SCTI Medical and Scientific Advisory Board. He is a world-class scientist in the field of stem cell research, cell processing, preservation and stabilization and will be a substantial contributor to SCTI's future scientific and business development."

    In addition to his current associations with UCSD, which dates back to January 2002, and with the Burnham Institute, Dr. Katkov has worked with private cell research companies in the United States and Canada, at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee. Before 1995, he headed up and worked for numerous private and public research organizations in Kharkov, Ukraine. He holds a degree in Cell Biophysics and Biomedical Engineering from Kharkov State University, 1979, and received his Ph.D. in Cell Biology and Physiology with emphasis on Cryobiology in 1985 from the Research Institute for Animal Husbandry, Kharkov, Ukraine.

    With the enactment of Proposition 71 in California in November 2004, a fund of $3 billion dollars was created to promote stem cell research. Since that time, four other states, New Jersey, Connecticut, Illinois and Wisconsin, have allocated significant funds for stem cell research. For additional information on SCTI's research and treatment programs please visit our website at www.scticorp.com.

    About Stem Cell Therapy International (SCTI)

    Stem Cell Therapy International, Inc. is engaged in the field of research and development of regenerative medicine. SCTI manufactures biological solutions that are currently being used in the treatment of patients suffering from degenerative disorders of the human body such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's Disease, ALS, leukemia, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, spinal cord injuries, brain injury, stroke, heart disease, liver and retinal disease, diabetes as well as certain types of cancer. The Company has established agreements with highly specialized, professional medical treatment facilities around the world in locations where stem cell transplantation therapy is approved by the appropriate local government agencies. SCTI intends to provide these biological solutions containing stem cell products in the United States as well, to universities, institutes and privately funded laboratory facilities for research purposes and clinical trials. Their products, which are available now, include various biological solutions containing fetal stem cells, adult stem cells and stem cell which are extracted from umbilical cord blood.

    Source: Stem Cell Therapy International, Inc.

    Team welcomes stem cell boost
    MAJOR funding for stem cell research has been welcomed in Cambridge, where scientists are leading the way.

    The Government revealed it would spend an extra £50 million on stem cell science over the next 10 years, doubling the amount already committed.

    The pledge followed a recommendation by the UK Stem Cell Initiative that funding should be increased by between £350 million and £520 million over the next decade.

    Cambridge is a hub of pioneering research into the potential of stem cells to treat and cure diseases including Parkinson's disease, insulindependent diabetes and multiple sclerosis, and tissue damage.

    The city is home to the Cambridge Stem Cell Initiative, which brings together expertise from the Medical Research Council and Cambridge University.

    The initiative, led by Prof Roger Pederson, includes the £16 million Institute for Stem Cell Biology, due to open next summer.

    Prof Pederson said:

    "In order to maintain its current leadership position in both regulatory policy and research, the UK needs to amplify its long-term investment in this area.

    "It is heartening that this is the recommendation of the UK Stem Cell Initiative report."

    Christine Phillips, of the Cambridge branch of the Multiple Sclerosis Society, said: "Stem cell research is widely accepted as being a means of finding cures for all sorts of diseases, one of which is MS.

    "At the moment it is incurable and they are not certain about the cause. It can be a devastating illness.

    "The problem with stem cells has always been that if they come from foetal tissue it causes ethical problems.

    But there are ways round that."

    Source: Cambridge Evening News

    Ministers boost funding for stem cell research

    Friday December 2, 11:23 AM

    The government has announced it will increase spending on stem cell research.

    Friday's move is part of a fresh drive to boost medical and scientific research in the UK.

    Some £100m will be made available over the next two years for stem cell research - which supporters hope will lead to breakthroughs for the treatment of a range of serious illnesses.

    The announcement coincided with the publication of a UK Stem Cell Initiative report that called for at least £350m to be spent in the area by 2016.

    Chancellor Gordon Brown said: "Britain should be the world's number one centre for genetic and stem cell research building on our world leading regulatory regime in this area."

    And health minister Jane Kennedy added that the technology has "the potential to help millions of people and could lead to new treatments for serious diseases for which there is currently no cure".

    Meanwhile, Brown and health secretary Patricia Hewitt also set out measures to make the UK a "world-class environment for medical research, development and innovation".

    "Health research provides us with the means to tackle the increasing challenges which disease and ill health are placing on our society," said Hewitt.

    "It also plays a key role in the knowledge economy of our country through its contribution to international competitiveness and economic growth.

    "Without a vibrant health research system, England's ability to deliver on this agenda will be severely compromised.

    "That is why the government is committed to making the UK the best place in the world for health research, development and innovation."

    Source: Yahoo News

    Experts plead for stem cell cash
    Leading UK stem cell scientists have called on the government to invest at least £350m in research by 2016.

    The report is from the UK Stem Cell Initiative, set up in this year's Budget charged with setting out a 10-year vision for the field.

    The government said it accepted the report's recommendations, and pledged an extra £50m funding up to 2007.

    Meanwhile, UK scientists outlined work which may allow embryonic stem cells to be developed without animal products.

    Stem cells are the body's master cells, with the ability to become many different adult tissues.

    In his report calling for more emphasis on stem cell research, Sir John Pattison said: "The ultimate health and wealth gains the UK will enjoy are directly proportional to the additional investment we are proposing."

    He said the UK should spend at least an extra £350m over the next decade on stem cell research if it wished to maintain its "international leadership in this area".

    "It is vital that we maintain and increase the level of public funding", he said.

    The government announced an additional £50m spending on stem cell science over the next two years, doubling the amount already committed.

    It welcomed the Stem Cell Initiative report, without making specific long-term funding pledges.

    Health Minister Jane Kennedy said the long-term commitment to stem cells should be continued.

    "They have the potential to help millions of people and could lead to new treatments for serious diseases for which there is currently no cure."

    Public private partnership

    Chancellor Gordon Brown announced a new public-private partnership to look at drug discovery and development - one of the main recommendations in the Stem Cell Initiative report.

    Colin Blakemore, chief executive of the Medical Research Council, who was part of the UK SCI panel said: "The MRC is increasing the resources it's putting into stem cell research.

    "We want to promote the rapid development of treatments as soon as they are shown to be valuable and safe."

    Professor Michael Whitaker, chairman of the Institute of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine Board, a joint University of Newcastle and the University of Durham body, also welcomed the report.

    "It is clear that a sustained programme of funding over several years is crucial if the UK is to maintain its position as world leader in this pioneering area of science," he said.

    UK scientists also outlined work which may allow embryonic stem cells to be developed without animal products.

    Currently, cells from mice are used - but there are concerns that using material from animals introduces a potentially "unstable" element.

    There are also fears having animal material in any resulting tissue could trigger a human body to reject it, or could lead to illness.

    Professor Roger Pederson and his team at the Cambridge Stem Cell Initiative examined the role of cell growth promoting factors in stem cell development.

    Early research indicates certain growth factors play a role in deciding what specific cell type it will go on to become.

    Mesoderm become cells such as muscle or blood cells.

    Endoderm become internal tissues and ectoderm cells give rise to body parts such as the outer layer of skin, teeth and nails.

    Professor Pederson, suggested their work could lead to stem cell lines "pure" enough to be used clinically within two years.

    But studies looking at their practical uses would take much longer.

    Source: BBCNews Online

    New funding for Scottish Stem Cell Network

    THE development of regenerative medicine in Scotland received a major boost yesterday as Scottish Enterprise announced a new funding package for the Scottish Stem Cell Network – a move aimed at keeping Scotland at the forefront of the pioneering industry.

    Scottish Enterprise said it will provide £1.85m in new funding over 10 years to help convert Scotland's "current excellence in stem cells research" into an international cluster of commercial activity.

    The Scottish Stem Cell Network was set up in 2003 to encourage collaboration between scientists, researchers and clinicians working with stem cells in Scotland and to enable basic research to be translated to deliver novel treatments for degenerative diseases.

    Stem cells are master cells, the building blocks of other cells, which researchers believe can be coaxed and grown into any type of cell in the human body.

    These cells hold the greatest hope for advances in human health and curative powers since perhaps Alexander Fleming's discovery of penicillin in 1928, which led the way to the development of antibiotics to treat infections and has since saved countless millions of lives.

    Likewise, researchers are hoping that stem cells, particularly those taken from embryos shortly after fertilisation, will eventually play a major role in curing diabetes, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease, as well as helping patients with strokes and spinal cord injuries. Stem cells may also take the place of bone marrow in transplants for people suffering from leukaemia, lymphoma and sickle cell anaemia.

    One idea behind the funding is to make Scotland more attractive to scientists.
    Scotland is already home to recently floated Stem Cell Sciences in Edinburgh, the world's largest company which uses stem cells derived from mice embryos and, controversially, human embryos.

    The company based itself in Scotland to be near world-class research at Edinburgh University. The other main idea is that if Scotland is the owner of the intellectual property that comes with breakthrough treatments in these areas, the economic and social implications could be massive.

    Some of this involves savings to the healthcare system, as well as the spin-offs associated with creating centres of medical excellence and rehabilitation, as well as the licensing out of discoveries to other parts of the world.

    by Mark Smith

    Source: The Herald WebIssue 2407

    © Multiple Sclerosis Resource Centre

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