Stem Cells in the News - June 2017

Monday, June 05, 2017 - 10:46
Stem Cells in the News

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.

SMER28 and iPSCs Pave Possible New Treatment Option for Anemic Patients – Harvard News
Researchers from Boston Children’s Hospital have, for the first time, used patient-derived iPSCs to create red blood cells in humans with Diamond-Blackfan Anemia (DBA). DBA patients lack the erythroid cells needed to generate mature red blood cells. The team of researchers, which includes George Q. Daley and Leonard Zon, performed a chemical screening of 1,440 compounds to differentiate iPSCs into erythroid cells and found particular promise in one compound, SMER28. This finding could reduce the cos t of treatment and improve patient quality of life, which is typically low in those with DBA.

Gelatin Device that Mimics Bone Regeneration - AAAS
Scientists at the University of the Basque Country have developed a scaffold that mimics the natural process of bone regeneration. This scaffold not only sustains mesenchymal stem cells during the regeneration process, the unique material the scaffold is made of allows for the release of growth factors in appropriate amounts at the correct time points in order to improve the regeneration process in vitro. They observed, among other things, the appropriate release of SHH as well as the induction of angiogenesis to support bone formation. The research team will move in to animal models in the next year.

Say What?! Indiana Researchers Create Inner Ear Organs from Stem Cells – IUSM Newsroom
Researchers led by Dr. Karl Koehler at the Indiana University School of Medicine have developed a method to grow inner ear tissue from human stem cells. The method uses CRISPR gene editing technology to create organoids populated with the necessary inner ear sensory cells, which detect gravity and motion, and neurons that are critical for hearing and balance. These findings have implications for both hearing and balance disorders in humans.

What do Pufferfish and Human Teeth Have in Common? More Than You Think! - University of Sheffield
A team of scientists have reported that the genes involved in tooth generation and regeneration in humans share a striking number of similarities with the pufferfish beak development. In addition, this study finds that the stem cells present in the human tooth and pufferfish beak are the same. These findings open a new realm of study in human tooth loss and regeneration and demonstrate that while vertebrates are extremely diverse, the development pathways are conserved and we may be more alike (at least at a molecular level) after all.

Einstein, SUNY, Mount Sinai, and Madison take on Breast Cancer Metastasis - Einstein College of Medicine
These 4 major research institutions have received a nearly 3-million-dollar grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to study how different cell types influence the metastasis of breast cancers. Their goal will be to identify different cell types that influence the Tumor Microenviroment of Metastasis (TMEM) as well as develop strategies to prevent metastasis from occurring. This multi-institutional grant provides each facility with an opportunity to carry out more in-depth studies, including animal studies – which is key to translating to the clinic in the future.

Mini-Lungs for Respiratory Disease Modeling - GEN News
A team of scientists at the Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) have published a study featuring a new lung “organoid” developed from iPSCs. It is the first time an “organoid” like cell structure has produced branching airway and alveolar structures. These functional mini-lungs can be used to study how an actual human lung responds to viral respiratory infections in vitro, including Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).

A Growing Concern of Counterfeit Media and Antibodies in the Chinese Biotech Market - Nature
There is a rise in concern of counterfeit reagents in China. Numerous accounts of products that are found to be non-specific, diluted, or incorrectly labeled has shone a spotlight on the market of unauthorized distributors in China. Many suppliers, particularly of antibodies and media products, have had trouble wrangling this issue. Recent support from scientists within China are leading to some innovative ways to stop the distribution of counterfeit products as well as educate scientists in the region to better be able to spot a fake vial or bottle.

Kidneys-on-a-Chip from iPSCs to Study Filtration Barrier Function and Breakdown – Harvard School of Engineering
Podocytes, which filter blood in the kidney, have typically been a challenge to culture and use as an in vitro kidney model system. A team of engineers at Harvard have developed a protocol for differentiating iPSCs into podocytes on a chip. They claim this protocol has >90% efficiency to generate mature podocytes. These findings open up a whole new way to study kidney biology, toxicity in vitro which could lead to better personalized medicine options for those suffering from kidney disease or kidney toxicity resulting from chemotherapy or drug treatments.

A Safe Space for Donor Bone Marrow Cells to Live (That Won’t Hurt the Patient) – R&D Magazine
Researchers at the University of California – San Diego have developed a bone-like implant that could change the patient process of receiving a bone marrow transplant. Normally, a patient undergoing a bone marrow transplant must undergo irradiation to remove their current bone marrow cells. With this new technology, the host and donor cells can live in close quarters and even mix and interact after the transplant is complete, all while still allowing for the circulation and production of new blood cells to the patient. This technology could lead to better treatment therapies for bone marrow diseases.

Be The Match BioTherapies Partners with Biotech Company to Improve Stem Cell Transplantation Outcomes - Pharmaceutical
Be The Match announced a partnership with Magenta Therapeutics with the goals of improving stem cell transplantation outcomes. This partnership also has the opportunity to expand bone marrow transplant as a treatment option for diseases such as autoimmune disorders, metabolic disorders, blood cancers, and more. This partnership could lead to several opportunities for clinical trials and leverage the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) as a source for these powerful treatment options.

Bone Marrow Stem Cells Transplanted Help Repair Damage to Barriers in ALS - Science World Report
A key process in the development of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is the breakdown of the blood-spinal cord barrier in the patient. Researchers from the University of South Florida had reported that in mice with ALS-like symptoms, when given intravenous treatments of human bone marrow stem cells, the transplanted cells adhered to the vascular walls of capillaries and began to repair this barrier. Their results show an increased improvement in motor function in the mice and enhanced motor neuron survival. This could translate into a new treatment option for humans diagnosed with ALS.

Lung Tumor Inhibition from Stem Cell Vaccine - UC Health News
A recent study from a team of researchers at the University of Cincinnati shows that a stem cell vaccine that has been encoded for IL-15 and IL-15Ralpha targets cancer stem cells and inhibit lung tumor proliferation. These findings could lead to a new option in immunotherapy with improved side effects from traditional treatment options.

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