It was another exciting year for science at the 2017 International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) Meeting! Playing on the meeting theme, ‘Science Insightfully Delivered’, there was a palatable emphasis in presentation topics focusing on translating stem cell research to the clinic. The translational aspect was complemented by some great posters and lectures highlighting cutting-edge science being done by the stem cell research community. Here are a couple of scientific hits and themes that we identified from the meeting.
Zika Virus and Brain Model Systems
Stem cells have been embraced by the research community as a model system for research into neurodegenerative disease mechanisms and therapies. One presentation that was particularly interesting was by Dr. Guo-li Ming, from the University of Pennsylvania, discussing her continued research on the mechanism of brain infection and pathology surrounding Zika Virus. Part of the research she presented showed that Zika Virus targets neural progenitor cells, resulting in cell death and further neural developmental defects.
R&D Systems offers a number of research tools to support both Zika Virus research as well as iPSC-derived models of neurodegenerative disease, including our new StemXVivo® Neural Progenitor Cell Differentiation Kit. This kit can help researchers robustly differentiate iPS cells into neural progenitors. NPCs generated using this kit can be cryopreserved or further differentiated into a variety of neuronal subtypes for use in in vitro studies of neurodegenerative disease or viral brain infection.
iPSC-derived Neural Progenitors
iPS-derived Natural Killer Cell Therapy
Natural killer (NK) cells are attractive cell therapy candidate because they actively engage and lyse tumor cells, are not MHC-restricted, and have a lower risk of immune rejection following transplantation. One industry-sponsored symposium at ISSCR focused on progress and challenges toward generating iPSC-derived NK cells as an off-the-shelf cell therapy, including logistics of scaling up NK cell production and the genetic modification of iPSCs to generate NK cells with sustained killer cell activity. This session featured prominent researches in the field of NK cell tumor biology, including Dr. Jeff Miller (University of Minnesota), Dr. Kalle Malmberg (Oslo University Hospital), and Dr. Dan Kaufman (University of California – San Diego).
R&D Systems has created a kit for the reliable expansion of human natural killer cells in vitro. The CellXVivo™ Human NK Cell Expansion Kit features optimized cytokines that eliminate the need for an APC feeder layer, making entry into the field of NK research that much easier.
Stem Cell-based Tissue Model Systems
The generation and use of more complex tissue model systems was another recurring theme at ISSCR. Organoids
, which are generated from pluripotent stem cells or organ progenitor cells that have differentiated and self-organized into a formation that resembles the structure and function of an intact mammalian organ, were everywhere during the meeting. However, other multi-cell based models, where researchers combine multiple iPS cell-derived terminal cell types, such as cardiomyocytes and endothelial cells, to create a better representation of cellular interactions in vitro
. At ISSCR, Bio-Techne showcased their new MimEX™ Tissue Model Systems
, which utilizes the power of ground state stem cells to create sustainable and accessible ex vivo
organ tissue. Read more about MimEX™ Tissue Model Systems.
Human Ascending Colon - Generated using MimEX™ Tissue Model Systems
Cell Therapy Manufacturing Challenges
There were many symposia and presentations on the translation of stem cell research to the clinic. One presentation by Marc-Olivier Baradez, PhD, from Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult in the United Kingdom, emphasized the importance of incorporating cell characterization checkpoints into the cell manufacturing process. Such checkpoints can help ensure the quality and consistency of the full product, anticipate sub-optimal manufacturing runs, and assess product integrity and stability. One challenge is devising a non-invasive test for cell characterization that does not impede the manufacturing workflow, but can still identify potency or quality issues in a timely fashion. Dr. Baradez, focused on a number of methods that address this challenge, including liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry (LC-MS).
At ISSCR, Bio-Techne scientists presented a poster on methods for non-invasively monitoring stem cell potency and differentiation using multi-analyte assay technology. Using cell culture supernatants and Luminex® technology, we were able to identify changes in cytokine expression during iPS-derived cardiomyocyte differentiation. View our poster on Non-invasive techniques to monitor stem cell differentiation. Also, view our ISSCR 2016 poster using Luminex® Assays to profile iPSC-hepatocyte differentiation.
Stem cell researchers want to know more about the heterogeneity of their stem cell populations. This is clear by the sheer volume of presentations and posters featuring data using single-cell RNA-Seq. Techniques enabling single-cell analysis are powerful and enable the stem cell research community to more clearly see stem cell heterogeneity and the impact that may have on pluripotency and cell fate determinations. Bio-Techne showcased their award-winning Single-cell Western platform, Milo™, at an Innovation Showcase on Friday, June 16th. Milo™ is complementary to RNA-Seq, the many single cell analysis platform featured by researchers at ISSCR, providing an automated technology for the high throughput analysis of protein expression within a single cell. Bio-Techne scientists also presented data using Milo™ to investigate population homogeneity during iPSC differentiation into neural progenitor cells. View the scientific poster featuring Milo™ data.
The above topics were just a few themes and highlights we thought to share with you. See you next year in Melbourne!
Milo Single-cell Western System