We have captured this month's most interesting, innovative, and maybe some of the strangest examples of stem cells in the news from around the world.
In July, the countries of Germany and Poland announced the Dioscuri Programme, which will fund research efforts across Western and Eastern Europe. This program will provide funding for ten research teams over the next 10 years to establish centers for scientific excellence within Poland. The EU has recognized a huge gap in scientific achievement between Eastern and Western Europe, and this initiative strives to close that gap and encourage greater collaboration between countries.
Beginning in March 2018, embryonic stem cells (ES) will be available to medical institutions in Japan. This move has been approved by both the health and science ministries of the country. The source of the ES cells is the result of a partnership with an infertility clinic in Kyoto, which will provide fertilized eggs that would otherwise be discarded. This will allow doctors to consider ES cell treatment options for a variety of diseases, including spinal cord injury, Parkinson’s, diabetes, and more.
The governing board of the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) has approved funding for 10 projects in 2017, including a one seeking to find a better treatment for the fatal blood disorder, alpha thalassemia major. This condition is diagnosed in the womb and the project, to be conducted by a team of researchers at UCSF, would utilize hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) from the mother’s bone marrow and transplant them to the child prior to birth.
A group of researchers from the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto have defined 2 distinct stem cell-like populations that contribute to relapse in patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). These cells can be characterized at diagnosis, can give insights into the relapse risk of the patient, and can help determine treatment options for the patient. Specific mutations were identified in the stem cell-like cells that greatly contribute to the risk of relapse.
Scientists at the Cleveland Clinic have identified a key pathway linking a high-fat diet with the development of colorectal cancer. They found that high expression of two Vitamin A signaling proteins contribute to the metastasis and aggression of the cancer. These pathways, when overexpressed, provide the necessary conditions to maintain the pool of cancer stem cells in the colon. A high fat diet contributes to the upregulation of these pathways and increases the likelihood of developing a more aggressive cancer.
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin have successfully grown functional arteries from stem cells in the lab. The team, from the Morgridge Institute for Research, transferred the arterial endothelial cells into mice recovering from a heart attack and showed marked improvements in survival. This development is one step further to creating artery “banks” for cardiovascular surgery, which could improve survival and recovery rates in several cardiovascular diseases.
A giraffe named Mahali received a stem cell therapy to treat arthritis in his left hoof. He is the first giraffe to receive this veterinary treatment. Arthritis in giraffes is not uncommon and is typically managed through hoof trims. Six weeks following the treatment, Mahali’s hoof has improved so that he is again able to bear weight on it!
A team of scientists from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Harvard Stem Cell Institute have developed a new stem cell therapy to target cancers that have metastasized to the brain. The treatment uses bone-marrow derived mesenchymal stem cells loaded with an oncolytic virus and a PD-1/PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitor. The cells are delivered through the carotid artery to specifically target the brain cancer cells. The team will soon be pursuing this treatment in other cancer models in mice.
Cell therapies have opened the door to personalized medicine and continue to reveal new and innovative ways to treat disease in humans. Not only does it have the potential to treat debilitating diseases, it could have the power to reverse detrimental conditions that currently have no known cure. The researchers at BioInformant have compiled 8 of the most promising reasons the progress of cell therapies are our future.
Researchers at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute have data suggesting that intestinal crypt stem cells are replenished by mature cells in the gut tissue, and not by other stem cells in the intestine, as previously thought. These findings could uncover new therapeutic targets for tissue regeneration in the future.