Stem Cells in the News – May 2017

Wednesday, May 10, 2017 - 14:06
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.

Sparking Faster MSC Differentiation into Schwann-Like Cells - Iowa State University
Researchers at Iowa State University have developed a nanotechnology that uses a 3-D Nanostructure and circuit boards that stimulates the differentiation of Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) into Schwann-like cells. Their technology could be the solution to an otherwise long and expensive process by which MSCs are pushed to a Schwann-like fate and could hold promise in accelerating studies looking to promote axonal regeneration.

CRISPR 2.0 Correct Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) Mutations - The Scientist
A team of researchers at the University of Texas - Southwestern have used CRISPR-Cpf1, a modified CRISPR system, to correct a mutation in the dystrophin gene in a DMD mouse model. Similar to CRISPR-Cas9 system, CRISPR-Cpf1 demonstrates a high efficiency of gene editing, with minimal negative effects. While there is additional work to be done, this work provides further evidence of additional CRISPR models for gene editing.

Priming Stem Cells for Faster Wound Healing - Stanford University
Researchers from Stanford University have found that priming stem cells in mice to a certain protein, similar to the priming of the immune system provided by vaccinations, result in faster tissue repair and recovery. This protein priming stem changes the cells to an “alert” state that is in-between resting and fully active stem cells. These findings could decrease recovery times for routine surgeries in humans.

A $3 Billion Bet on Stem Cells is Coming to an End - Nature
In 2004, Californian voters approved $3 billion USD spending for their state in stem cell research. The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), the main distributor of this funding, is now running out of money to disperse to scientists in the state. If the money dries up, this could lead to labs going unfunded and potentially closing before major therapies are validated. But fear not, advocacy groups are already rallying around the supported labs and bringing a $5 billion USD ask to California voters in 2018.

Identical Twins, Different Stem Cells - The Salk Institute
The Salk Institute has released results on a study that shows induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from identical twins are not so identical after all. Their findings suggest that variations in different iPSC lines are not rooted fully in genetics. Specifically, the team found variations around the MYC protein, which is affected during the reprogramming of iPSCs. This study sheds light on the differences between iPSCs and embryonic stem cells, as well as the potential implications of these differences.

Cancer Stem Cell Pathway to be Evaluated as a Novel Drug Target in Colorectal Cancer - OncLive
The stemness inhibitor, Napabucasin (BBI-608), is to be evaluated in combination with chemotherapy as a novel treatment option for patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) in a Phase 3 trial. This is of particular interest because it attempts to overcome an acquired resistance to cytotoxic therapy that is often observed in these patients. The trial has begun recruiting patients.

Plasticell Funded to Produce a Red Blood Cell Substitute to Meet a Rising Transfusion Demand - Drug Target Review
The UK biotech company, Plasticell, has received almost £1,000,000 from Innovate UK to develop a red blood cell (RBC) substitute for clinical transfusions. Using patented technology related to hematopoietic stem cell therapies, they hope to provide scalable manufacturing process to differentiate progenitor cells that will give rise to fully functional RBCs.

iPSCs Help to Reduce Risk of Organ Transplant Rejection, Study Finds – San Diego Tribune
A study led by Japanese researchers have found that when mice are given donor iPSC-derived regulatory Dendritic Cells (DCregs), the grafted organs were less likely to be rejected. This finding could hold promise not only for transplant recipients, but also those with several autoimmune diseases. This is a preliminary study and several researchers are already airing concerns.

New Approaches to Targeting Acute and Chronic GVHD – Targeted Oncology
At the recent American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation meeting, researchers discussed current treatment options for Graft vs. Host Disease (GVHD). The topics discussed were based on findings from a retrospective study of 19 stem cell transplant centers in the USA and Europe. New drugs and treatments being considered focus on lower dose limits that have fewer limiting side effects to the patient with more selective targets for chronic GVHD.

Fraud and Misrepresentation Lawsuit Proceeds for Unapproved Stem Cell Treatments - The LA Times
A judge in San Diego, CA, has cleared a Stemgenex lawsuit to proceed to trial. The clinic is being sued by three plaintiffs that claim they were misled to believe that their unapproved stem cell treatments would successfully treat their various conditions. Stemgenex treatments involve the injection of adipose stem cells as a treatment for several different diseases or injuries.

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