Stem Cells in the News - October 2018
Monday, October 08, 2018 - 13:37
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.
With over 3,500 papers published in the mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) field, there has been a recent call to recategorize these cells, which some feel has become too loosely defined and not meeting the requirements of a true stem cell. The term has come to encompass a vast array of cells with varying levels of multipotency and function. This recent op-ed published in Nature outlines the argument for dropping the term “mesenchymal stem cells” for a more defined terminology, but how would that affect researchers around the world? Read more on The Scientist for a full analysis.
Researchers from Cincinnati Children’s Cancer and Blood Diseases Institute have revealed a method for harvesting of blood stem cells in mice with the help of an experimental drug, CASIN. CASIN mimics an important gene in the regulation of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) that promotes mobilization, which makes the cells easier to isolate from the patient. This process could lead to transplant preconditioning for those with blood diseases that are unable to tolerate the harsh effects of chemotherapies currently necessary for transplants in humans.
In vitro gametogenesis has been studied for years to help improve success rates for those with reproductive challenges. A new study demonstrates induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) can undergo further differentiation in vitro than previously thought to. The team of researchers from Kyoto University cultured human oogonia-like cells in vitro for over 4 months and show consistent hallmarks of epigenetic reprogramming and proper inactivation of X chromosomes. This finding further helps establish human iPSCs as a competent option for future reproductive medicine techniques.
The Australian Regenerative Medicine company, Cynata Therapeutics Limited, has released preclinical study results demonstrating their proprietary MSCs significantly reduced cytokine release syndrome (CRS) caused by cancer immunotherapies given to mice. Their study tested the addition of the MSCs before, during, and after treatments were administered and observed similar rates of amelioration of CRS in the humanized mouse model. They plan to further explore options to partner with developing CAR T treatments in testing to improve patient outcomes in the future.
Researchers from China’s Medical University have recently published findings that suggest a symbiotic role between MSCs and cancer stem cells (CSCs). They sought to evaluate the microRNAs of MSC-derived exosomes and found several distinct microRNAs that contribute to increasing populations of CSCs in colon cancer cells. They were able to further elucidate the mechanism by which exosomes influence CSC proliferation, which includes promotion of the Notch signaling pathway.
The advances in the 3-D culture methods have vastly increased our understanding of disease, drug discoveries, and regenerative medicine in just a short period of time. Organoid cultures have allowed researchers to side-step ethical and costly animal studies while still providing a physiologically-relevant model of study. This review in Nature explores the potential of the 3-D tissue and cell culture modeling across industries and how organoid culture can continue to accelerate our rate of discovery and understanding. View our organoid recipes and resources.
Mutations in HSCs can lead to the development of myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). To further progress of HSC cell therapies, a molecular understanding of the progression of this syndrome is necessary. Researchers from the University of Colorado recently published a study that identified events in the development of MDS that could be subject to therapeutic intervention to prevent MDS progression in patients upstream. In a comprehensive review of the literature, they identify key metabolic steps that could be targets to prevent the onset of complications in the future.
A live, attenuated vaccine to treat Zika viral infections may have a dual purpose in the treatment of glioblastomas. The Zika virus has previously been shown to be efficient in attacking glioblastoma stem cells (GSCs) in vitro, so the live, attenuated vaccine became a promising frontrunner to try to destroy these cancer stem cells. In this murine study, conducted at the Beijing Institute, vaccine-treated mice showed a significant delay in tumor development and demonstrated selective killing of the GSCs. This study holds promise for reducing glioblastoma recurrence rates when used in combination with other treatments.
Fate Therapeutics and ONO Pharmaceuticals have announced a partnership to develop and commercialize two off-the-shelf iPSC-derived CAR T cell therapies. The potential products will utilize Fate’s proprietary induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) platform to develop cells with engineered anti-tumor functionality. Both therapies, a previously studied antigen and a novel antigen, hope to target specific lymphoblastic leukemias with the goal of global commercialization in the next 10 years.
A collaboration between the New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF) and Tufts University has been launched to further our understanding of mechanisms in neurodegenerative diseases using human stem cell-based technologies, such as 3-D tissue and culture models. The teams will be given patient-derived samples to engineer 3-D models to study the molecular pathways, neural circuit defects, and immune responses in Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease. The teams hope to unearth the next generation of therapeutics to treat or prevent neurodegenerative diseases.