How Do Stem Cells Respond To Diagnostic Radiation Studies?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
http://www.insilico.com/
Andreyan Osipov PhD
Insilico Medicine and
Dmitry Klokov PhD
Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, Chalk River, Ontario, Canada 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Cells and tissues can be damaged when exposed to ionizing radiation. In case of radiotherapy, it is a desirable effect in tumor cells. In case of occupational, medical and accidental exposures, typically to low-dose radiation, this may pose health risk to normal cells and tissues.

In both cases, short-term assays that quantify damage to DNA and help evaluate long-term outcome are key to treatment/risk management. One such short-term assay is based on quantification of a modified histone protein called gH2AX in exposed cells up to 24 hrs after exposure. This protein marks sites in DNA that have both strands of the DNA helix broken or damaged. This assay is also widely used for various applications, including determination of individual radiosensitivity, tumor response to radiotherapy and biological dosimetry. With the advent of regenerative medicine that is based on stem cell transplantation, the medical and research communities realized that there is a need to understand how stem cells respond to low-dose diagnostic radiation exposures, such as CT scans. Stem cell therapies may have to be combined with diagnostic imaging in recipient patients. The gH2AX assay comes in very handy here, or at least it seemed this way.

We exposed mesenchymal stem cells isolated from human patients to low or intermediate doses of X-rays (80 and 1000 mGy) and followed formation of gH2AX in their nuclei. First we found that residual gH2AX signal in cells exposed to a low dose was higher than in control non-irradiated cells. If the conventional assumptions about this assay that it is a surrogate for long-term detrimental effects was followed it would mean that the low-dose exposed cells were at a high risk of losing their functional properties. So we continued growing these cells for several weeks and assayed gH2AX levels, ability to proliferate and the level of cellular aging. Surprisingly, we found that low-dose irradiated cells did not differ from non-irradiated cells in any of the measured functional end-points. This was in contrast to 1000 mGy irradiated cells that did much worse at those long-term end points.

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Testicular Cancer Stem Cells Highly Sensitive To Chemotherapy, Resulting In High Cure Rates

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

 Credit: Tim Pierpont, Cornell University

A low magnification image of a germ cell tumor, called a teratocarcinoma, from a new mouse model developed to study testicular cancer. A cluster of cancer stem cells, termed embryonal carcinoma, is shown at higher magnification at the bottom.

 

Amy M. Lyndaker, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Biology
Division of Mathematics and Natural Sciences
Elmira College
This work was completed when I was a Research Associate in the laboratory of
Dr. Robert S. Weiss at:
Department of Biomedical Sciences College of Veterinary Medicine
Cornell University Ithaca, NY

 

 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: There has been this puzzle in the field of cancer biology that testicular cancers, even after they have spread to the brain or the lungs, are often able to be cured with radiation and chemotherapy (think of Lance Armstrong, for instance), whereas the majority of cancers are not curable with similar treatments. We thought that this could be due to the unique properties of the cells from which the cancers are derived; testicular cancers arise from germ cells (which later go on to make sperm), whereas most cancers arise from somatic cells (body cells). We proposed that maybe the germ cells and somatic cells were hard-wired to respond differently to DNA damage, and that because of this, cancers derived from these two distinct types of cells might then respond differently to chemotherapies (which typically kill cancer cells by creating DNA damage).

To test this, we generated a novel genetic mouse model that develops cancers similar to the malignant testicular cancers seen in young men. We then used standard chemotherapies (cisplatin alone, or combined bleomycin/etoposide/cisplatin), and found that treatment with DNA-damaging chemotherapies specifically killed the cancer stem cells within the tumors. Thus, we were able to show that testicular cancers are curable with standard DNA-damaging chemotherapies because their stem cells are highly sensitive to DNA damage. This is in contrast to most cancers, where the cancer stem cells are refractory to treatment and are responsible for tumor recurrence and metastasis.

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Significant Amount of Medical Literature Contaminated With Misidentified Cells

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Serge Horbach MSc Institute for Science in Society Radboud University Nijmegen

Serge Horbach

Serge Horbach MSc
Institute for Science in Society
Radboud University Nijmegen
 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Since the late 60s, researchers have pointed to issues in biomedical research stemming from the misidentification of cells. Starting with controversy around HeLa cells, researchers became aware of cells invading other cell cultures. Currently, 488 cell lines have become mixed up with the wrong cells, still often HeLa cells. This leads to errors in reporting research. For example, some research papers have reported results for “lung cancer cells” that turned out to be liver cancer cells, or even mouse cells.

We wanted to know what happened to past research and set out to estimate the number of scientific publications affected by misidentified cells. By tracing misidentified cells of the ICLAC database in Web of Science, we found 32.755 contaminated publications, or 0,8% of all literature in cell biology. These articles are cited by at least 500.000 other publications.

More worryingly, it turned out that this problem is highly stubborn. Currently, still a few dozen new articles are published every month reporting on other cells than were actually used, leading to a total of 1200 each year. And this number is not decreasing, in spite of a database of misidentified cells, of genetic testing availability, requirements by some prominent journals, or attention for the problem in the literature. We were also able to establish that this is not just a problem for newly emergent countries in the international research community, but also for countries with well-establishments research traditions. In spite of great efforts, the problem of cell misidentification is not at all solved.

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CMV Infections Increase Complications and Costs After Stem Cell Transplantation

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Jonathan Schelfhout, PhD Director, Outcomes Research Merck & Co. Inc. North Wales, PA

Dr. Schelfhout

Dr. Jonathan Schelfhout, PhD
Director, Outcomes Research
Merck & Co. Inc.
North Wales, PA

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The cost of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation has received increased attention after it was identified as a top 10 contributor to increasing healthcare costs in an AHRQ 2016 report. Many recent studies have explored the cost of HSCT but additional research is needed on the costly complications that can follow the transplant procedure. This research is particularly relevant for inpatient decision makers, as most transplant centers receive one bundled payment for the transplant and the treatment of any complications over the first 100 days.

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American CryoStem – CRYO – Allows Individuals to Collect, Freeze and Store Their Stem Cells

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

John Arnone, Chairman and CEO American CryoStem Corporation

John Arnone

John Arnone
Chairman and CEO

American CryoStem Corporation

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this your company American CryoStem?

Response: American CryoStem Corporation (CRYO) was founded in 2008, to allow individuals, researchers and physicians to collect-process-store stem cells derived from adipose tissue (fat) to prepare for their current or future use. Over the years the Company has become a biotechnology pioneer, standardizing adipose tissue derived technologies (Adult Stem Cells) for the fields of Regenerative and Personalized Medicine.

The Company operates a state-of-art, FDA-registered, clinical laboratory in New Jersey and licensed laboratories in Hong Kong, China and Tokyo, Japan, which operate on our proprietary platform, dedicated to the collection, processing, bio-banking, culturing and differentiation of adipose tissue (fat) and adipose derived stem cells (ADSCs)

CRYO maintains a strategic portfolio of intellectual property, 18 patents that surround the Companies proprietary technology which supports a growing pipeline of stem cell applications and biologic products. We are leveraging our proprietary platform and our developed product portfolio to create a domestic and global footprint of licensed laboratory affiliates, physicians networks and research organizations who purchase tissue collection, processing and storage services and consumables from the Company.

CRYO’s laboratory stem cell bank/line products are characterized adult human Mesenchymal Stem Cell (MSC’s) derived from adipose tissue that work in conjunction with our 13 patented (non-animal) medium lines.

The Company’s R&D efforts are focused on university and private collaborations to discover, develop and commercialize ADSC therapies by utilizing our standardized collection-processing-storage methodology and laboratory products combined with synergistic technologies to create jointly developed regenerative medicine applications and intellectual property.

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H. pylori May Increase Risk of Stomach Cancer By Turning On Subset of Stem Cells

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Michael Sigal PhD

Clinical scientist of the Charité — Universitätsmedizin Berlin
Investigator at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: We have previously found that H. pylori can colonize gastric glands and that in colonized glands the epithelial turnover was increased. We wanted to characterize the mechanisms that control the gland turnover in the stomach.

We found that Axin2, a classic Wnt target gene, marks two different subpopulations of cells with stem cell properties, one of which is Lgr5-positive and the other one Lgr5-negative. Both populations are affected by Rspondin 3, that is produced in myofibroblasts right beneath the stem cell compartment. Rspondin is crucial for stem cell signaling and knockout of Rspondin 3 in myofibroblasts results in loss of Lgr5 and Axin2 expression. Once we increased the bioavailability of Rspondin, that now could also interact with cells outside of the stem cell compartment, we noticed that the number of Axin2 positive stem cells dramatically increased. Of interest, only Lgr5-negative cells expanded in number and proliferate more, while the Lgr5-positive cells remained silenced.

Infection with Helicobacter pylori leads to an expansion of Axin2-positive cells which is driven by increased expression of Rspondin3. Expansion of the long lived stem cell pool could be an explanation for how H. pylori infection increases the risk for gastric cancer.

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Skin-Grafted Stem Cells May Treat Obesity and Diabetes

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Xiaoyang Wu PhD Ben May Department for Cancer Research The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL

Dr. Xiaoyang Wu

Dr. Xiaoyang Wu PhD
Ben May Department for Cancer Research
The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: We have been working on skin somatic stem cells for many years. As one of the most studies adult stem cell systems, skin stem cells have several unique advantages as the novel vehicle for somatic gene therapy (summarized also in the paper). The system is well established. Human skin transplantation using CEA device developed from skin stem cells have been clinically used for decades for burn wound treatment, and been proven to be safe the effective.

In this study, we developed a skin 3D organoid culture model to induce stratification and maturation of mouse epidermal stem cells in vitro, which allows us to efficiently transfer engineered mouse skin to isogenic host animals. In the proof of concept study, we showed that we can achieve systematic release of GLP1 at therapeutic concentration by engineered skin grafts.

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Unregulated Direct-to-Consumer Treatment Centers Provide Stem Cells for Patients With Heart Failure

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Paul J. Hauptman, MD Professor of Internal Medicine Division of Cardiology Assistant Dean, Clinical and Translational  Research Saint Louis University School of Medicine St. Louis MO 63110-0250

Dr. Hauptman

Dr. Paul J. Hauptman, MD
Professor of Internal Medicine
Division of Cardiology
Assistant Dean, Clinical and Translational  Research
Saint Louis University School of Medicine
St. Louis MO 63110-0250 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: A publication in 2016 by Leigh Turner from the University of Minnesota in 2016 shed light on the proliferation of stem cell centers or “businesses” that offer non FDA approved treatments, described as “stem cell therapy” for a variety of conditions. We opted to evaluate sites that claimed to treat heart failure. We collected data on type of infusion, need for a medical evaluation, board certification status of the center physician, cost and other factors. Self reported patient volumes were very variable. Most centers/businesses claimed to use autologous stem cells; a number offered ancillary treatment (i.e. vitamin infusions and hyperbaric oxygen); only one appeared to have a board-certified cardiologist involved. The costs were high for single infusions (mean price of $7694, SD 2737 for autologous cells; slightly less for allogeneic cells). Efficacy claims made during telephone calls with the centers were highly positive.

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Preclinical Study Finds Cancer Stem Cell Inhibitor Sensitizes Colon Cancer Cells To Immunotherapy

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Yuan Gao

Assistant Investigator at Boston Biomedical

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most commonly diagnosed malignant disease and third most frequent cause of cancer-related death in the United States. Standard treatment for unresectable metastatic CRC currently includes first and second line 5-fluorouracil (5-FU)-based chemotherapy regimens. However, CRC patients often develop chemoresistance. Recently, immunotherapy has emerged as a revolutionary new treatment for CRC. However, with the exception of a small percentage of CRC patients that display microsatellite instability (MSI), the vast majority of colorectal cancer patients have been found to be resistant to immune checkpoint therapies.

Cancer stem cells (CSCs), a highly malignant tumor cell subpopulation capable of self-renewal, are considered to be fundamentally responsible for malignant growth and tumor recurrence. Emerging evidence indicates that CSCs and cancer stemness pathways, such as STAT3, beta-Catenin, CD44 and Nanog, are involved in the immune evasion of cancers. BBI-608 (napabucasin) is an orally-administered first-in-class cancer stemness inhibitor that works by targeting STAT3. In this study, we investigated the effect of cancer stemness inhibition on sensitizing colorectal cancer to immune checkpoint inhibitors in preclinical models.

In the syngeneic microsatellite stable (MSS) tumor model, CT26, an anti-PD-1 antibody delivered as a monotherapy, produced low level and temporary antitumor activity with rapid development of complete resistance to anti-PD-1 treatment. The anti-PD-1 antibody-treated CT26 tumors exhibited increased p-STAT3 activation and overexpression of a variety of stemness factors, as well as enrichment of sphere-forming stemness-high cancer cells. Napabucasin was able to reduce basal as well as anti-PD1-induced STAT3 activation and other CSC features within CT26 tumors. The combination of a stemness inhibitor – napabucasin – with the anti-PD-1 antibody led to tumor complete response (CR) in all treated CT26 tumors, with 40 percent of the mice remaining tumor-free for 30 days following treatment termination. This combination also had a synergistic effect on the influx of tumor infiltrating CD8+ T cells, which likely contributed to the rapid tumor regression. Finally, mice CR-induced by napabucasin and the anti-PD-1 antibody were able to reject CT26 tumors upon re-challenge, but not the unrelated breast cancer 4T1 tumors.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Our data suggest cancer stemness pathways contribute to immunotherapy resistance in MSS CRC, a subtype representing the vast majority of colorectal cancer cases. Furthermore, inhibition of cancer stemness by BBI-608 sensitizes colorectal cancer to immune checkpoint inhibition, producing striking regression in a large proportion of the tumors treated.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: This study provides compelling preclinical evidence to support the investigation of the combination of napabucasin with immune checkpoint inhibitors in CRC. While this study specifically investigated the combination with anti-PD-1, the combination with other immunotherapies could be studied as well.

MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.

Citation: AACR 2017 Abstract

Inhibition of cancer stemness sensitizes colorectal cancer to immune checkpoint inhibitors
Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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Three Distinct Cardiac Stem Cell Populations Isolated from a Single Human Heart Biopsy

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Megan M. Monsanto, B.S. Joint Doctoral Student Department of Cell and Molecular Biology San Diego State University & University of California San Diego

Megan Monsanto

Megan M. Monsanto, B.S.
Joint Doctoral Student
Department of Cell and Molecular Biology
San Diego State University &
University of California San Diego

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: In the field of cardiovascular research there is ongoing debate regarding the optimal cell population(s) to use for the treatment of patients with heart failure. A major reason being, the lack of understanding of the actions and synergism between distinct myocardial-derived stem cell populations. This prompted our group to establish a protocol to isolate multiple stem cell populations from a single human myocardial tissue sample that will allow for the discovery of new insights at the cellular level, with the ultimate goal being to achieve true myocardial regeneration upon injection back into the patient.

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Human Stem Cells Can Be Used For 3-D Printing of Tissue Stuctures

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Sang Jin Lee, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine Wake Forest School of Medicine Wake Forest University

Dr. Sang Jin Lee

Sang Jin Lee, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine
Wake Forest School of Medicine
Wake Forest University

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: I received my Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at Hanyang University, Seoul, South Korea in 2003 and took a postdoctoral fellowship in the Laboratories for Tissue Engineering and Cellular Therapeutics at Harvard Medical School and Children’s Hospital Boston and the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine where I am currently a faculty member. My research works have focused on development of smart biomaterial systems that support the regenerative medicine strategies and approaches. These biomaterial systems combined with drug/protein delivery system, nano/micro-scaled topographical feature, or hybrid materials that could actively participate in functional tissue regeneration. Recently my research works utilize 3D bioprinting strategy to manufacture complex, multi-cellular living tissue constructs that mimic the structure of native tissues. This can be accomplished by optimizing the formulation of biomaterials to serve as the scaffolding for 3D bioprinting, and by providing the biological environment needed for the successful delivery of cells and biomaterials to discrete locations within the 3D structure.

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RepliCel Developing Autologous Cell Therapies For Skin, Hair and Tendon Regeneration

MedicalResearch.com with:

Lee Buckler, CEO
RepliCel Life Sciences

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this your company, RepliCel.com?

Response: RepliCel Life Sciences is a Canadian regenerative medicine company based in Vancouver, British Columbia that was founded in 2006. The company focuses on the development of cell therapies using a patient’s own cells (autologous cell therapy). It is developing treatments targeted at healing chronic tendon injuries that have failed to heal properly, hair restoration, and the treatment of damaged and aged skin.

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Process Refines Conversion of Skin Fibroblasts into Cardiac Blood Vessels

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Jalees Rehman, MD Director of Research, Division of Cardiology Associate Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine Chicago, IL 60612

Dr. Rehman

Jalees Rehman, MD
Director of Research, Division of Cardiology
Associate Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology
University of Illinois at Chicago
College of Medicine
Chicago, IL 60612

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Converting skin fibroblasts into regenerative blood vessel endothelial cells could be a valuable approach to repair diseased blood vessels in patients with cardiovascular disease and also to build new blood vessels in order to supply engineered tissues and organs.

Using skin fibroblasts is very well suited for personalized therapies because they can be obtained from a skin biopsy in an outpatient setting. The biopsied skin sample is used to extract the skin fibroblasts, which are then expanded in cell culture dishes before they are converted to endothelial cells. This allows for the generation of tens or hundreds of millions of cells that will likely be needed for blood vessel repair and regeneration. By converting skin fibroblasts of a patient, we can generate personalized endothelial cells with the same genetic signature as the patient so that they are less likely to be rejected if implanted back into the same patient after the conversion.

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Nasal Spray of Stem Cell Vesicles First Step Toward Treating Brain Diseases

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Darwin J. Prockop, M.D., Ph.D. Professor and Director Institute for Regenerative Medicine Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine Temple, TX

Dr. Prockop

Dr. Darwin J. Prockop, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor and Director
Institute for Regenerative Medicine
Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine
Temple, TX

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: We and many others have been trying for many years to develop therapies with adult stem cells that might rescue the brain from the injuries and disease. Recently many of found that small vesicles secreted by adult stem cells have many of the beneficial effects of the cells themselves. The paper shows that a nasal spray of the vesicles can rescue mice from the long-term effects of severe epilepsy.

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Transplanted Human Embryonic Stem Retinal Pigment Cells Survive 22 months in a Human Recipient

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Won Kyung Song MD.PhD Assistant Professor, Vitreoretinal service, Department of Ophthalmology CHA Bundang Medical Center CHA University Republic of Korea

Dr. Won Kyung Song

Won Kyung Song MD.PhD
Assistant Professor, Vitreoretinal service, Department of Ophthalmology
CHA Bundang Medical Center CHA University
Republic of Korea 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The retina is a light-sensitive neural tissue lining the inner surface of the human eye. The center of this retina is called the “macula”, which is responsible for high quality vision and central visual field. Retinal pigment epithelium is a layer of cells in the outer layer of the retina which has a critical role in maintaining and supporting the retina, especially the macula.

Age-related macular degeneration(AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss in the elderly in Western countries. There are two types of AMD, wet (neovascular or exudative) and dry (atrophic). The retinal pigment epithelium and choroid, are closely related with the pathophysiology of AMD. In dry AMD, age-related degeneration of RPE cells leads to the loss of photoreceptor cells and visual deficit. Currently, some therapies are available for ameliorating the wet AMD. However, there are no effective therapy available for dry AMD.

Previous studies have shown that healthy RPE cells can be implanted to replace unhealthy RPE cells in lesion areas where RPE cells have been lost. Allogenic RPEs resulted in graft rejection and autologous RPEs are difficult to harvest leading to surgery related complications. Now, abundant RPEs with stable genotype and phenotye may be generated from embryonic stem cells. Therefore, we have undergone subretinal transplantation of human embryonic stem cell derived RPE cells. (Clinicaltrials.gov NCT 01674829) Among the patients enrolled for

this clinical trial, we noted epiretinal membrane(ERM) with pigmentations over the retina in a proportion of patients as an adverse event. One patient with dry AMD and an epiretinal membrane after the hES-RPE transplantation undergone removal of this ERM. The histologic examination of this ERM with pigmentations showed that the pigmented cells originated from the transplanted hES-RPE cells which survived in the recipient for 22 months without anaplasia.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: The main concerns of clinical application of hES derived cells are tumorigenesis and immune rejection.

There are limitations of these trials lacking confirmative measurements of engraftment of the transplanted cells. Because biopsy of the retina results in focal loss of nurosensory retina and labelling the cells may cause additional clinical harm.

This is the first report showing that hES derived cells has survived upto 22 months in human organ without anaplasia and may form an ERM.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Objective measurement of engraftment is necessary, together with advancement of an objective visual function measurements.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: The case reported in this journal is a finding from a patient enrolled in the clinical trial sponsored by CHAbiotech.Co,Ltd.

HI12C1794(A121941)

MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.

Citation:

Shim SH, Kim G, Lee DR, Lee JE, Kwon HJ, Song WK. Survival of Transplanted Human Embryonic Stem Cell–Derived Retinal Pigment Epithelial Cells in a Human Recipient for 22 Months. JAMA Ophthalmol. Published online February 09, 2017. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2016.5824

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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Smaller and More Stable Than Stem Cells, Exosomes Can Preserve Retinal Cell Function

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Ben Mead, BSc, MRes, PhD Section of Retinal Ganglion Cell Biology Laboratory of Retinal Cell and Molecular Biology National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health Bethesda, Maryland 20892

Dr. Ben Mead

Ben Mead, BSc, MRes, PhD
Section of Retinal Ganglion Cell Biology
Laboratory of Retinal Cell and Molecular Biology
National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, Maryland 20892

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Retinal ganglion cells (RGC) in the back of the eye transmit visual information to the brain, via long thread-like extensions called axons, which make up the optic nerve. Loss of these cells is the leading cause of irreversible blindness and can occur through trauma or degenerative diseases, such as glaucoma or optic neuritis. While no treatment yet exists to directly protect RGC from death, mesenchymal stem cells, a type of stem cell isolated from adult bone marrow, have shown therapeutic efficacy in various animal models and are currently undergoing clinical trials.

In this study, we aimed to isolate exosomes, which are small, membrane-enclosed vesicles secreted by bone marrow stem cells (BMSC) and that we believe are associated with the therapeutic effect of BMSCs. Injecting these exosomes into the eyes of animals following an optic nerve injury, was associated with significant neuroprotection of RGC, as well as preservation of RGC function. The protective effects of exosomes appeared to be through their delivery of microRNA, molecules that interfere with or silence gene expression.

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Reduced Stem Cells Link Congenital Heart Disease To Impaired Brain Growth

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Childrens National Research Team

Children’s National Research Team

Paul D. Morton, Ph.D.
Research PostDoc and lead study author of “Abnormal Neurogenesis and Cortical Growth in Congenital Heart Disease.”
Children’s National Health System Washington, DC

Nobuyuki Ishibashi, M.D.
Director of the Cardiac Surgery Research Laboratory at Children’s National Health System and co-senior study author.

Vittorio Gallo, Ph.D.
Director of the Center for Neuroscience Research at Children’s National Health System and co-senior study author.

 

 

Richard A. Jonas, M.D.
Chief of the Division of Cardiac Surgery at Children’s National Health System and co-senior study author.

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Congenital heart disease (CHD) is the leading birth defect in the United States and often results in an array of long-term neurological deficits including motor, cognitive and behavioral abnormalities. It has become increasingly clear that children with CHD often have underdeveloped brains. In many cases of complex CHD, blood flow to the brain is both reduced and less oxygenated, which has been associated with developmental abnormalities and delay. The cellular mechanisms underlying the impact of CHD on brain development remain largely unknown. We developed a preclinical chronic hypoxia model to define these mechanisms.

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Healthy Stem Cells Need Just Right Telomere Length

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Professor Jan Karlseder Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory Donald and Darlene Shiley Chair Salk Institute for Biological Studies

Prof. Jan Karlseder

Professor Jan Karlseder
Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory
Donald and Darlene Shiley Chair
Salk Institute for Biological Studies

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? 

Response: Telomeres are repetitive stretches of DNA at the ends of each chromosome whose length can be increased by an enzyme called telomerase. Our cellular machinery results in a little bit of the telomere becoming lopped off each time cells replicate their DNA and divide. As telomeres shorten over time, the chromosomes themselves become vulnerable to damage. Eventually the cells die. The exception is stem cells, which use telomerase to rebuild their telomeres, allowing them to retain their ability to divide, and to develop (“differentiate”) into virtually any cell type for the specific tissue or organ, be it skin, heart, liver or muscle—a quality known as pluripotency. These qualities make stem cells promising tools for regenerative therapies to combat age-related cellular damage and disease.

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Kidney Organoids Derived from Human Pluripotent Stem Cells Model Polycystic Disease

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Ryuji Morizane M.D. Ph.D. Associate Biologist, Renal Division, Brigham and Women’s Hospital Affiliated Faculty, Harvard Stem Cell Institute Instructor, Harvard Medical School

Dr. Ryuji Morizane

Dr. Ryuji Morizane MD, PhD
Associate Biologist, Renal Division
Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Affiliated Faculty, Harvard Stem Cell Institute
Instructor, Harvard Medical School

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) accounts for 10% of end-stage kidney disease (ESKD), and there is currently no curable treatment available for patients with PKD.

The adult onset form of PKD, the most common type of PKD, takes 30 years to form cysts in humans; therefore, it is difficult to study mechanisms of PKD to find novel therapeutics for patients.

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Breast Cancer Cells Become Chemotherapy Resistant By Eating Surrounding Stem Cells

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Thomas Bartosh Jr, Ph.D. Assistant Professor Medical Physiology Texas A&M Health Science Center

Dr. Thomas Bartosh Jr,

Thomas Bartosh Jr, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor Medical Physiology
Texas A&M Health Science Center

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: One mysterious and devastating aspect of breast cancer is that it can reemerge abruptly, often as metastatic disease, in patients many years after an apparent eradication of the primary tumor. The sudden reappearance of cancer has been termed relapse and is thought to occur because a minimal number of resilient tumor cells are able to evade frontline therapies and linger in an undetectable/dormant state somewhere in the body for an unpredictable amount of time. Then, for reasons that remain unclear, these same dormant cells awaken and rapidly grow, and produce almost invariably fatal cancerous lesions. The therapeutic challenges of tumor dormancy and need to decode the underlying mechanisms involved are apparent.

Cancer cell behavior is strongly influenced by various non-malignant cell types that are found within the tumor mass itself and that help make up the tumor microenvironment (TME). In particular, bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (MSCs), which are actively recruited into the tumor stroma, directly interact with carcinoma cells and significantly impact cancer progression, although the role of MSCs in tumor dormancy remains ill-defined.

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Switch Stimulating New Insulin-Producing Cells Could Lead To Cure For Type I Diabetes

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Fred Levine MD PhD Professor & Director Sanford Children's Health Research Center Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute La Jolla, CA

Dr. Fred Levine

Dr. Fred Levine MD PhD
Professor & Director
Sanford Children’s Health Research Center
Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute
La Jolla, CA

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: This study is the latest in a series that began in 2010 when we published that the combination of severe pancreatitis and ablation of preexisting pancreatic beta-cells led to the formation of new beta-cells by direct conversion of alpha-cells, which are the neighboring cells in the islets of Langerhans producing glucagon, which like insulin is also involved in glucose homeostasis.

The phenomenon of generating new beta-cells by islet cell transdifferentiation went against the conventional wisdom in the field, which is that most beta-cell neogenesis in adults occurs by differentiation from cells in the pancreatic ducts, similar to what happens during embryogenesis. Since then, we have shown that beta-cell neogenesis by islet cell transdifferentiation appears to occur in murine and human type I diabetes, making it highly translationally relevant.

Understanding the mechanism by which new beta-cells are formed from alpha-cells is required for eventual clinical translation. The current study describes that mechanism, which involves the activation of an atypical G protein coupled receptor called Protease Activated Receptor 2 (PAR2). Unlike most other GPCRs, it is activated by extracellular proteases such as are found in the exocrine pancreas or following tissue damage. PAR2 activation by an injectable peptide agonist was both necessary and sufficient to induce beta-cell neogenesis when preexisting beta-cells are absent, as occurs in type I diabetes.

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Stem Cells From Nose Used To Repair Knee Cartilage

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Professor Ivan Martin, PhD Department of Surgery and Department of Biomedicine University Hospital Basel University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland

Prof. Ivan Martin

Professor Ivan Martin, PhD
Department of Surgery and Department of Biomedicine
University Hospital Basel
University of Basel
Basel, Switzerland

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study and new use of autologous nasal chondrocytes?

Response: We previously demonstrated that nasal chondrocytes, harvested from the nasal septum, have a larger and more reproducible capacity to form new cartilage than articular chondrocytes, harvested from the knee joint. We further established that the cartilage tissue generated by nasal chondrocytes can respond to physical forces (mechanical loads) similar to articular cartilage and has the ‘plasticity’ to adapt to a joint environment, since it efficiently integrated with surrounding articular cartilage when implanted in goat joints. This was the rationale for using nasal chondrocytes for articular cartilage repair.

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Electronic cigarettes increase endothelial progenitor cells in the blood of healthy volunteers

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Lukasz Antoniewicz MD PhD candidate Karolinska Institutet Department of Clinical Sciences Danderyd University Hospital Stockholm, Sweden

Dr. Lukasz Antoniewicz

Lukasz Antoniewicz MD, PhD candidate
Karolinska Institutet
Department of Clinical Sciences
Danderyd University Hospital
Stockholm, Sweden

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Electronic cigarette sales increase exponentially on a global scale without knowledge about possible negative effects on human health. We performed an exposure study in young healthy volunteers and analyzed blood samples for endothelial progenitor cells and microvesicles. Increase in those markers may reflect vascular injury, inflammation and platelet activation.

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Stem Cells Drive Vascular Calcification in Arteriosclerosis

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Rafael Kramann, MD, FASN
RWTH Aachen University
Division of Nephrology and Clinical Immunology
Pauwelsstr 30
52074 Aachen, Germany

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Vascular calcification contributes centrally to the increased cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in patients with diabetes or chronic kidney disease.

Vascular calcification is of major clinical importance as it predicts cardiovascular events, affects plaque stability contributing to stroke and myocardial infarction and also contributes to chronic heart failure by stiffening of the arterial wall. However, the cellular origin of vascular calcification is incompletely understood. While it is known that resident vascular smooth muscle cells and circulating macrophages are involved the contribution of adventitial cells is controversial and partly unknown.

Our data indicates that adventitial progenitor cells marked by expression of Gli1 are key drivers of vascular calcification in athero- and arteriosclerosis. Genetic ablation of this cell population completely abolished vascular calcification in a mouse model of high lipid load and chronic kidney disease. Identification of this progenitor population might be the first step towards a cell-specific targeted therapy of vascular calcification.

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Stem Cells May Be Stimulated in Women With Chest Pain But Normal Coronary Arteries

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Arshed A. Quyyumi MD; FRCP

Dr. Arshed Auyyumi

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Arshed A. Quyyumi MD; FRCP
Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology
Emory University School of Medicine
Co-Director, Emory Clinical Cardiovascular Research Institute
Atlanta GA 30322

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Circulating progenitor or stem cells were discovered in adults 15 years ago. We now know that they may be stimulated by injury or ischemia, and they go down in number and function with aging, particularly when aging is associated with risk factors.

Women with chest pain despite normal coronary arteries are thought to have ischemia because of microvascular dysfunction. We found that these women, with the worst microvascular function (measured as coronary flow reserve), had higher levels of circulating stem or progenitor cells. This implies that the mild ischemia they are having during their normal daily life, leads to stimulation of their stem cells. Also, the vascular abnormality may be a stimulus for repair.

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Cardioprotective Effect of Metformin in Diabetes Determined

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Jolanta U Weaver, FRCP MRCS PhD CTLHE

Dr. Jolanta Weaver

Jolanta U Weaver, FRCP MRCS PhD CTLHE
Senior Lecturer in Diabetes Medicine
Honorary Consultant Diabetologist
Newcastle

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Vascular stem cells, which are associated with an improvement of heart disease, are improved in type 1 diabetes by repurposing metformin, known to reduce heart disease in type 2 diabetes.

We treated patients with type 1 diabetes with metformin for 8 weeks. The metformin dose varied between 500 mg a day to 2000 mg a day, depending on what patients were happy to take. Subjects were requested to keep diabetic control unchanged to study the direct effect of metformin on heart disease. Circulating endothelial progenitor cells (vascular stem cells) count, Hill’s colonies and pro angiogenic cells function (in test tube) improved in comparison to patients, who did not take metformin but remained on standard therapy.

Endothelial cells associated with vascular damage, on the other hand, were reduced following metformin therapy confirming improved vascular health. The glycaemic control remained unchanged (as planned at the onset of the study) to allow us to examine the effect of metformin ALONE on vascular health. Patients did not suffer any serious side effects.

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IV Administration of Stem Cells Viable and More Practical Than Direct Cardiac Implantation

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Javed Butler, M.D., MPH, FACC, FAHA Chief of the Cardiology Division and Co-Director of the Heart Institute at Stony Brook University Stony Brook Heart Institute

Dr. Javed Butler

Javed Butler, M.D., MPH, FACC, FAHA
Chief of the Cardiology Division and Co-Director of the Heart Institute at Stony Brook University
Stony Brook Heart Institute

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: It was previously assumed that stem cells must be delivered directly to the myocardium to improve patient outcomes. However, this delivery mechanism – either in the coronary artery or the myocardium – may not be feasible for millions of patients and for repeat injections. This study represents the first clinical trial to observe the effects of intravenous (IV) administration of ischemia-tolerant mesenchymal stem cells (itMSCs) in patients with chronic heart failure. Results show that an IV injection strategy is safe and well-tolerated.In addition, the data illustrate statistically significant improvement in 6-minute walk test, quality-of-life scores as assessed by Kansas City Cardiomyopathy Questionnaire (KCCQ) and favorable immune modulatory benefits.

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Phase 3 Trial of Iomab-B as an Induction and Conditioning Agent Prior to Bone Marrow or Stem Cell Transplant in Relapsed or Refractory AML

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Felix Garzon, MD, PhD Senior Vice President Head of Clinical Development Actinium Pharmaceuticals, Inc. New York, NY 10016

Felix Garzon

Felix Garzon, MD, PhD
Senior Vice President
Head of Clinical Development
Actinium Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
New York, NY 10016

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What is goal of this Study?

Response: Iomab-B (“Iomab”) was developed at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (“the Hutch”) in Seattle, Washington. The Hutch is a pioneer in the field of bone marrow transplantation (BMT) having 3 Nobel Prizes and doctors there performed some of the first transplants for leukemia patients. Iomab-B is intended to be an induction and conditioning agent prior to a BMT for patients with relapsed or refractory Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) who are over the age of 55. BMT is the only potentially curative option for AML i.e. for this patient population that currently has a survival prognosis of 2-6 months which means that if Iomab-B is successful it would create a new market segment and offer patients a great clinical benefit and a hope for a cure. Actinium Pharmaceuticals licensed Iomab from the Hutch in 2012 and prior to us licensing Iomab, it had been studied in almost 300 patients in several phase 1 and phase 2 clinical trials in an array of blood cancers, both leukemias and lymphomas. Actinium is now the sponsor of a pivotal phase 3 trial for Iomab-B to study its use as an induction and conditioning agent prior to a bone marrow transplantation in patients with relapsed or refractory AML who are over the age of 55. This trial, which we have named the SIERRA (Study of Iomab-B in Elderly Relapsed or Refractory AML) trial, started at the end of June 2016 and we expect to enroll 150 patients by the end of 2017.

The primary endpoint of the SIERRA trial is durable complete remissions (dCR) of 6 months. The study arm will consist of Iomab-B administration followed by a  bone marrow transplantation, patients will be evaluated for dCR at 6 months after engraftment, which will be assessed at day 28 or day 56. The control arm of the study will be physician’s choice of chemotherapy and if the patient is able to achieve a complete remission (CR) they may receive a BMT or some other form of treatment with curative intent. The study is designed to evaluate if the study arm of Iomab-B and a BMT can double the dCR rate of the control arm, which is designed to replicate the current treatment regimen prior to a bone marrow transplantation .

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Stem Cells, Not Their Progeny, Found Competent To Initiate Basal Cell Skin Cancer Formation

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Cédric Blanpain, MD, PhD Professor of Stem Cell and Developmental Biology WELBIO, Interdisciplinary Research Institute (IRIBHM) Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) Belgium

Dr. Cédric Blanpain

Cédric Blanpain, MD, PhD
Professor of Stem Cell and Developmental Biology
WELBIO, Interdisciplinary Research Institute (IRIBHM)
Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB)
Belgium
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Many cancers arise from tissues maintained by stem and progenitor cells that ultimately give rise to non-dividing terminally differentiated cells. However, little is known about the contribution of stem cells and progenitors to cancer initiation. During tumor initiation, cells targeted by oncogenic mutations undergo a series of molecular changes leading to their clonal expansion and the acquisition of invasive properties. How exactly oncogenic mutations impact on the rate of stem cell and progenitor division, and change the proportion of divisions that result in symmetric and asymmetric cell fate, allowing clonal expansion and tumor progression is poorly understood. In this new study, we define for the first time the clonal dynamics that lead to skin cancer initiation using the basal cell carcinoma, the most frequent tumor in humans, as a model.

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Small Study Demonstrates Benefit of Stem Cell Transplantation in Hearts ‘Broken’ By STEMI

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Fu Guosheng MD Professor and Chairman, Department of Cardiology Sir Run Run Shaw Hospital, College of Medicine Zhejiang University Hangzhou, China

Dr. Fu Guosheng

Fu Guosheng MD
Professor and Chairman, Department of Cardiology
Sir Run Run Shaw Hospital, College of Medicine
Zhejiang University
Hangzhou, China

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Acute myocardial infarction (AMI) remains a major cause of long term morbidity and mortality worldwide. Although we can re-vascularize the occluded vessels by cardiac intervention or coronary artery bypass graft (CABG), it is not helpful for the damaged myocardium, which urges us to find a new therapeutic method. An increasing body of evidence from a wide range of experimental animal studies and clinical trials suggests that endothelial progenitor cell (EPC) transplantation can repair “broken” heart by involving direct angiogenesis and secreting protective paracrine factors, which has a bright prospect for clinical application. However, transplantation of autologous EPC has numerous limitations, including the limited supply of expanded EPC, the impaired function and activity of the transplanted cells, and so on. Therefore, it is desirable to develop novel proangiogenic strategies that improve the efficacy of EPC transplantation.

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HIV Lymphoma Patients Now Candidates For Stem Cell Transplants

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Joseph Alvarnas, MD Associate clinical professor Department of hematology and Director of value-based analytics City of Hope National Medical Center Duarte, CA

Dr. Joseph Alvarnas

Joseph Alvarnas, MD
Associate clinical professor
Department of hematology and Director of value-based analytics
City of Hope National Medical Center
Duarte, CA

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Alvarnas: Patients with HIV infection have a significantly increased risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and Hodgkin lymphoma. Prior to the availability of effective anti-retroviral therapy, HIV-infected patients with lymphoma had very poor treatment outcomes. Following the availability of effective anti-HIV therapy, patient outcomes for HIV-infected patients now parallel those of non-infected patients. Historically, however, HIV infection has been used as a criterion for not offering patients autologous blood stem cell transplantation outside of centers with unique expertise. The purpose of this trial was to evaluate outcomes, complication rates, and immunological reconstitution of HIV-infected patients following autologous blood stem cell transplantation.
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Multiple Myeloma: Thalidomide Derivative Lenalidomide Improved Survival After Chemo and Stem Cell Transplant

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Philip McCarthy, BA, MD Professor of Oncology Director, Blood and Marrow Transplant Program Roswell Park Cancer Institute Associate Professor of Medicine Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences State University of New York at Buffalo Buffalo, NY 14263

Dr. Philip McCarthy

Philip McCarthy, BA, MD
Professor of Oncology
Director, Blood and Marrow Transplant Program
Roswell Park Cancer Institute
Associate Professor of Medicine
Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
State University of New York at Buffalo
Buffalo, NY 14263

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. McCarthy: There have been three Phase III studies that examined the role of maintenance lenalidomide after autologous stem cell transplant (ASCT) for newly diagnosed multiple myeloma patients. IFM 2005-02 (France), CALGB 100104 (Alliance, USA), GIMEMA-RVMM-PI-209 (Italy). All three studies had progression free survival (PFS) as their primary endpoint and all demonstrated a superior PFS when compared to placebo or no therapy after ASCT. However only the CALGB 100104 study demonstrated a statistically superior overall survival (OS). Thus, a meta-analysis was necessary to assess the effect of post-ASCT lenalidomide maintenance on overall survival. This study utilized a pooled analysis of updated primary-source patient data from all three studies after the primary efficacy analyses had been conducted. The meta-analysis demonstrated that there is a statistically superior OS (P value=0.001, HR=0.74 (0.62-0.89)), Median OS for no maintenance or placebo was 86 months and the median OS for lenalidomide had not been reached. The median OS for lenalidomide treatment arm was extrapolated to be 116 months based on median of the control arm and HR (median, 86 months; HR = 0.74). Thus, there is a 26% reduction in the risk of death which is an estimated 2.5 year increase in median OS. There is an increased incidence of second primary malignancies with lenalidomide maintenance when compared to placebo but this risk is less than the risk of dying when not receiving lenalidomide.

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French Grape Seed Extract May Help Eliminate Cancer Stem Cells

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Ajay Goel, Ph.D.
Professor, and Director of Center for Epigenetics and Cancer Preventio
Baylor Scott & White Research Institute
Baylor University Medical Center, Dallas, TX

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Goel: One of the areas in which I am interested is examining the activity of natural compounds as it relates to cancer prevention, progression, and treatment. Polyphenols have known antioxidant and anti-cancer activity, but it is important that we better understand the mechanisms of action. I have found in my research on curcumin and boswellia that these plants contain compounds that work on an epigenetic level and can influence microRNA in ways that chemotherapeutic agents cannot. MicroRNA is important because it is like a master control panel that turns on and off a multitude of genetic “switches.” Influencing the activity of microRNA influences a wide array of genetic expression. If you tell the general of the army what to do, it has a much greater impact than directions given to a private, because the general influences so many more soldiers.

Because grape seed extract contains oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPC) that are also quite active in influential cancer mitigating genetic pathways, I wanted to determine its effects more exactly. I chose specifically tannin-free, low molecular weight OPCs because there is some evidence that the larger sized OPCs are not absorbable.

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Small Trial Paves Way for Larger Study of Fat-Derived Stem Cells for Heart Failure

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Timothy D. Henry, MD, MSCAI Director, Division of Cardiology Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute

Dr. Timothy Henry

Timothy D. Henry, MD, MSCAI
Director, Division of Cardiology
Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Henry: Heart failure it the #1 cause of morbidity, mortality and cost in the United States today.  Patients with Class 3 heart failure, despite optimal medical therapy and device therapy have limited options beyond heart transplantation and left ventricular cyst device.

Transplantation and LVAD are expensive and are challenged by both availability and complications.  Therefore, treatment for patients with ongoing symptoms despite medical therapy is an admiral goal.  Stem cell therapy appears to be an attractive choice for these patients, in particular patients with ischemic cardiomyopathy.

The ATHENA trial was designed to treat patients with ischemic cardiomyopathy and ongoing ischemia with autologous adipose-derived regenerative cells.  Patients would undergo liposuction with onsite processing of their stem cells in 1 ½ – 2 hours, followed by intramyocardial injection of adipose-derived regenerative cells (ADCRs) vs. placebo.

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Scientists Rejuvenate Old Stem Cells With Common Vitamin

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Keir Menzies PhD Assistant Professor  University of Ottawa Brain and Mind Research Institute University of Ottawa

Dr. Keir Menzies

Keir Menzies PhD
Assistant Professor
University of Ottawa Brain and Mind Research Institute
University of Ottawa 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Menzies: Currently there is significant amount of research identifying the power of stem cells to regenerate damaged or aging tissue. Our research discovered that reduced stem cell health was linked to unusually low levels of a small molecule called NAD, one of the most important cellular molecules to maintain the performance of mitochondria, the engine of the cell. Then by boosting NAD levels, using a special form of vitamin B3 called nicotinamide riboside, stem cells could be rejuvenated during aging by improving mitochondrial function.  We then go on to show that by improving stem cell function we could prolong the lifespan of mice, even when the treatment began at a relatively old age.

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Scientists Generate Functional Skin From Stem Cells

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Takashi Tsuji, PhD
Team Leader of  Laboratory for Organ Regeneration
RIKEN Center fo
r Developmental Biology
Chuo-ku, Kobe, Hyogo Japan

MedicalResearch.com: What was the impetus for this research? What made you think about creating a skin model?

Answer. Previously, we successfully demonstrated the functional organ regeneration including tooth (PNAS 2009), hair follicles (Nature Communications 2012), salivary gland (Nature Communications 2013a) and lachrymal gland (Nature Communications 2013b). We focused onto a complex organogenesis through the epithelial and mesenchymal cell interaction. In the current study as a continuous work, we would like to regenerate organ system by using multipotent stem cells such as ES and iPS cells. In this study, we first demonstrated the generation of a functional bioengineered 3D integumentary organ system from murine iPS cells.

MedicalResearch.com: Can you describe what you created in layperson terms? How big is it, what does it look like and what is it capable of doing?

Answer. We succeeded to demonstrate the proof-of-concept to generate 3D integumentary organ system, complete skin, which has skin appendages such as hair follicle and sebaceous gland, by mimicking the organogenesis during embryogenesis. In this work, we performed in murine system, so, the transplantable skin size is small as 1 mm2 /1 site. We think that further studies for humanization and the development of in vitro culture system would lead to realize of clinical applications for severe burned patients and severe hair loss. Furthermore, this method will contribute to understand the onset of dermoid tumor, which has ectodermal organs such as tooth and hair follicle, in human.

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Stem Cells May Improve Blood Flow In Patients With Erectile Dysfunction

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Michael Zahalsky MD Medical Director of Urological Oncology North Broward Medical Center, Florida

Dr. Michael Zahalsky

Dr. Michael Zahalsky MD
Medical Director of Urological Oncology
North Broward Medical Center, Florida

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Zahalsky: Erectile dysfunction or the inability to maintain an erection satisfactory for sexual intercourse is a disease that affects hundreds of millions of men worldwide. Currently, the most utilized methods to help treat these men include oral medications, injectable medications and penile prostheses.

We sought out new alternatives to treat and potentially even cure erectile dysfunction by using stem cells and biologic-based therapies – treatments that are now being used in various fields of medicine from orthopedics to plastic surgery. We decided to see how their effect will influence Erectile Dysfunction by evaluating blood flow to the penis. In the past we studied Peyronie’s Disease using a similar treatment modality and showed that with a single injection blood flow improved, plaque size decreased, and penile curvature lessened.  There have been many animal studies, as well, showing the benefit of biologic-based therapies in the treatment of Erectile Dysfunction and Peyronie’s Disease.

We chose to use placental matrix derived mesenchymal stem cells in this study on Erectile Dysfunction. We had a small sample of 8 patients who underwent treatment. We had statistically significant increase in blood flow into the penis.  This was demonstrated by an increase in peak systolic velocity using color doppler on ultrasound.

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Using Small Carriers Increases Number of Cardiac Stem Cells Remaining in Heart

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Joost P.G. Sluijter, PhD, FESC Assistant Professor Department of Cardiology Experimental Cardiology Laboratory UMC Utrecht

Dr. Joost Sluijter

Joost P.G. Sluijter, PhD, FESC
Associate Professor
Department of Cardiology
Experimental Cardiology Laboratory
UMC Utrecht

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Sluijter: Cell transplantation therapy for ischemic heart disease has entered the arena of clinical trials more than a decade ago. Multiple cell types have been used since these first endeavors, and there is accumulating evidence that different cell types positively influence the damaged heart through paracrine and/or regenerative mechanisms. One of the most promising cell types to be used are the cardiac-located stem cells. Cardiac stem cells (CSCs) have been found to reside in the adult heart and can differentiate towards all cell types that are needed in the normal functional heart. These cells have shown great potential as a regenerative therapeutic upon myocardial infarction (MI) in animal models and are currently being tested in some clinical studies. However, although promising, no systematic overview and subsequent meta-analysis of preclinical data exists to date for this cell type and if they are consistently effective. Our systematic approach, yielded 80 studies and included over 1900 animals, confirms the consistent effect of CSCs and provides us with a first comprehensive overview of pre-clinical MI studies in an unbiased and systematic manner.  Nowadays we are aware of a failure in therapeutic effect size for the translation axis, where we try to bridge fundamental findings from the lab to the bedside. This means that effects we observe in our initial studies on cardiac performance are slowly getting less successful when we are getting closer to a real clinical scenario.

Through our meta-analysis, we observed a consistent therapeutic effect of Cardiac stem cells therapy on cardiac function after MI, where 12% of functional improvements is observed in rodents, and only an 8% improvement was still present in large animal models. From previous observations, we know that this leaves a 3-4% of effect in a patient population. In addition to the difference in effect size between small and large animal models, also a difference in study quality and attrition bias was observed. Interestingly, although additional support to the idea that Cardiac stem cells are efficacious in preclinical studies were observed, we did not find any influence of immunosuppression, cell source, comorbidity of CSC donors, culture methods, or model of ischemia on the outcomes.

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Stem Cells Vary Widely Depending on Location and Donor Age

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Andrew Jaffe PhD Investigator, Lieber Institute for Brain Development Assistant Professor Wendy Klag Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Dr. Andrew Jaffe

Dr. Andrew Jaffe PhD
Investigator, Lieber Institute for Brain Development
Assistant Professor
Wendy Klag Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Jaffe: Significant investments are being made worldwide in precision medicine, with much of the investment concentrated in the curation of stem cell lines for the generation of new tissues and organs. The most popular cell types for generating patient-specific stem cells are skin-derived and therefore receive potentially the highest amount of environmental exposure.

In our study, we were interested in characterizing the genomic variability in fibroblast cells from two locations in the body across the lifespan. The two locations were the scalp, which is exposed to the environment, and the dura mater, which is the membrane under the skull and is largely protected from environmental insult. While the fibroblast cells from these two locations look indistinguishable under a microscope, we found widespread epigenetic and expression differences between the cells related to where they came from in the body and also related, to a lesser extent, to the age of the donor.

As the field of personalized medicine continues to grow, this evidence necessitates further exploration into the epigenetic patterns in stem cells used for new tissue and organ generation. Additional research is required to determine which cells to cultivate and when, as researchers question how much epigenetic memory is actually erased when creating stem cell models.

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New Teeth: Why Can’t We Be More Like Sharks?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Shark Teeth: lower jaw with 4 tooth rows and 4 tooth series labeled. "Series 1" contains the functional teeth at the front of the jaw. Wikipedia Image

Shark Teeth: lower jaw with 4 tooth rows and 4 tooth series labeled. “Series 1” contains the functional teeth at the front of the jaw. Wikipedia Image

Gareth J. Fraser, Ph.D
Lecturer in Zoology
Department of Animal and Plant Sciences
Alfred Denny Building
University of Sheffield
Western Bank Sheffield UK

MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

 

 

Dr. Fraser: Our study shows how sharks develop their formidable, continuously regenerative conveyor belt-like dentition. We show how sharks make and regenerate their teeth utilising a core set of highly conserved genes shared among all vertebrates, including humans. This network of genes has been making teeth in vertebrates for over 400 million years. This report suggests that all teeth are made with this same group of genes. Sharks have an incredible ability to rapidly regenerate their dentition throughout life, and these genes are essential for this process of regeneration.

If we compare this process to mammals where the regenerative system is greatly reduced with only two sets of teeth, then we can begin to understand why humans have lost the ability to regenerate their dentition more than once. The beauty of studying natural systems like the shark dentition is that we can learn the basic science behind how teeth are naturally regenerated. This is important to human dental health as we can use these natural systems of tooth regeneration to learn about the essential cells and genes that regulate the process of natural tooth regeneration.

In the future, this research could facilitate the development of new dental therapies helping humans to regrow natural teeth when required.

Citation:

Liam J. Rasch, Kyle J. Martin, Rory L. Cooper, Brian D. Metscher, Charlie J. Underwood, Gareth J. Fraser. An ancient dental gene set governs development and continuous regeneration of teeth in sharks.
Developmental Biology, 2016; DOI:10.1016/j.ydbio.2016.01.038

Dr. Gareth Fraser (2016). New Teeth: Why Can’t We Be More Like Sharks? 

Radiation Converts Some Resistant Head and Neck Cancer Cells Into Aggressive Stem Cells

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Erina Vlashi, PhD Assistant Professor Department of Radiation Oncology David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA Los Angeles, CA 90095-1714

Dr. Erina Vlashi

Erina Vlashi, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Radiation Oncology
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1714

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Vlashi: It has been known for quite some time that head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC) that test positive for human papilloma virus (HPV) respond to radiation therapy more favorably than HPV-negative HNSCCs. Our team reviewed a cohort of 162 patients with a head and neck squamous carcinoma diagnosis over a two-year period, and confirmed that the outcomes were correlated with the patient’s HPV status. The work that followed was prompted by a discovery we had made earlier in breast cancer suggesting that breast cancer cells that manage to survive radiation therapy have the capacity to convert into more de-differentiated, therapy-resistant cells with characteristics of cancer stem cells, and that the degree of this conversion depended on the type of breast cancer: the more aggressive types of breast cancer being more prone to the therapy-induced phenotype conversion. So, we hypothesized that this therapy-induced conversion phenomenon may especially be at play in  head and neck squamous cell carcinomas given the clinical observation that HPV-positive HNSCCs respond to radiation therapy much more favorably than HPV-negative HNSCCs, despite optimum treatment modalities. And indeed, that is what we found: tumor cells derived from a panel of  head and neck squamous cell carcinomas cell lines that do not respond well to radiation therapy have an enhanced ability to convert the cells that survive radiation into more aggressive cells, cancer stem-like cells that will resist the next round of radiation therapy.  Continue reading

Regrowing Axons Not Enough To Make Functional New Nerves

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Zhigang He, PhD, BM 
Professor of Neurology  and
Michela Fagiolini, PhD Assistant Professor of Neurology
F.M. Kirby Neurobiology Center, Department of Neurology
Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School
Boston, MA 02115, USA

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Drs. Fagiolini and He: Brain or spinal cord injury is still a major medical problem and there is no effective treatment of promoting functional recovery. A key issue is the nerve fibers, or axons, connecting different brain regions are damaged and cannot be repaired. For example, the axons in the optic nerve are the only channels transmitting visual signals from eye to brain. If damaged, our brain will not be able to receive visual signals and be blinded. Thus, a logical therapy should be to stimulate damaged axons to regrow to the targets and reconnect the eyes and brain. Studies in the past from us and others revealed several approaches of promoting the regrowth of injured axons, but it was unknown whether these regenerated axons could form functional connections and mediate functional recovery.

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

Drs. Fagiolini and He:  What we discovered in this study is that these regenerated axons could form functional connections, synapses, in the brain targets, but surprisingly fail to mediate behavioral visual function recovery. In mammals, many long projecting axons are insulated by lipid-enriched myelin sheets which could significantly speed up nerve conduction and facilitate the functional coordination of different brain regions during behavior. Interestingly, we found that different from intact optic nerves, these regenerated axons fail to be myelinated and thus possess poor conductance. When we treat these mice with compounds that can improve nerve conduction, we do observe partial yet significant functional recovery. Thus, there are at least two pieces of information from this study:

  • First, axon regrowth might not enough for functional recovery, nerve conduction could be another hurdle;
  • Second, the combination of these manipulations could serve a proof-of-principle example for achieving functional recovery.

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Stem Cell Derived Growth Factors May Slow Progression of ALS

Prof. Dimitrios Karussis M.D., Ph.D. Professor of Neurology Head, Multiple Sclerosis Center Hadassah BrainLabs

Prof. Dimitrios Karussis

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
ProfDimitrios Karussis M.D., Ph.D.
Professor of Neurology
Head, Multiple Sclerosis Center
Hadassah BrainLabs

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Prof. Karussis: BrainStorm Cell Therapeutics is developing innovative, autologous stem cell therapies for highly debilitating neurodegenerative diseases such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Multiple Sclerosis (MS), and Parkinson’s Disease (PD).  Our technology, NurOwn™ is a first-of-its-kind approach that induces autologous bone marrow-derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) to secrete Neurotrophic Growth Factors (NTFs).  These MSC-NTF cells have been shown to be protective in several animal models of neurodegenerative diseases.

Data from the clinical trials described in the recent issue of the Journal of American Medicine – Neurology (JAMA Neurology), suggest that NurOwn can help patients with ALS.  The two trials featured in the article, a phase 1/2 and a phase 2a, studied the transplantation NurOwn cells in ALS patients.  These trials confirmed the excellent safety profile of NurOwn and suggest a clinically meaningful effect. The investigators used two well established clinical endpoints that measure disease activity in ALS, the Revised ALS Functional Rating Scale and Forced Vital Capacity, and were able demonstrate a slowing of disease activity in the period following treatment.

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Cancer Stem Cells May Facilitate Recurrent and Metastatic Breast Cancer

Jenny C. Chang, M.D. Director, Houston Methodist Cancer Center Professor of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College Full Member, Houston Methodist Research Institute Houston, Texas

Dr. Jenny C. Chang

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Jenny C. Chang, M.D.
Director, Houston Methodist Cancer Center
Professor of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College
Full Member, Houston Methodist Research Institute
Houston, Texas 

MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Chang: The current treatment of triple negative breast cancer, which accounts for about 15% of all cases of breast cancer, is still based on surgery, radiotherapy, and classic chemotherapy because, unlike other types of breast cancer, it is not amenable to hormonal or targeted therapy. However, research findings suggest that cancer stem cells, which represent about 2% of all neoplastic cells, may play a role in disease relapses and the formation of distant metastases. As these cells may represent a therapeutic target, the aim of this study is to modify the micro-environment in which they reproduce by acting directly on the chemokines involved in inflammation because there is evidence indicating a possible mechanism of action of reparixin, a molecule developed by Dompé, an Italian biopharmaceutical company, in the targeted treatment of these cancers.

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Stem Cell Therapy May Be Most Effective, and Most Toxic, Treatment For Crohn’s Disease

Dr. Chris J. Hawkey, DM, FRCP, FMedSci. University of Nottingham and Nottingham University Hospital England

Dr. Chris Hawkey

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Chris J. Hawkey, DM, FRCP, FMedSci.
University of Nottingham and Nottingham University Hospital
England

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

 Dr. Hawkey: ASTIC (The Autologous Stem Cell Transplantation International Crohn’s Disease) systematically investigated the effect of immunoablation and autologous haemopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) on objective signs of disease, symptoms and need for treatment and is the only controlled trial to have done so. The body’s immune system normally protects us from infections but in Crohn’s disease it turns on itself.  The treatment involves wiping out the body’s immune system (immunoablation) and replacing it with the patient’s own (autologous haemopoietic stem cell transplantation) innocent stem cells, a sort of immunological spring clean. Patients were randomly assigned to undergo transplantation (n=23) or just continue on best conventional treatment (n=22).

ASTIC was stimulated by reports which suggested that long-term regression of disease amounting to potential cure could be achieved. But the treatment is hazardous with major potentially lethal risks, so recruitment to the trial was cautious and only the most resistant cases were studied. And we used the most stringent criteria ever developed for the trial’s primary endpoint.

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

 Dr. Hawkey: In fact the criteria we used for success were so stringent (no symptoms, no signs of disease on total bowel examination and no need for treatment) that few patients achieved them. Nevertheless, there were improvements in the individual measures underlying this composite endpoint. Objective signs of disease disappeared so that the gut looked normal from mouth to anus in about a quarter of actively treated patients vs no controls. Eight vs two patients were adjudicated free of active disease on endoscopy and radiology at final assessment (p=0.054). Patients were able to come off drug treatments: by the end of a year 61% of HSCT patients off immunosuppressive drugs for >3 months vs 23% of controls (p=0.012). Ten vs two patients had lost symptoms of active disease, eight vs two for of them for > 3 months (p=0.052).

But treatment was challenging: there were 76 serious adverse events in HSCT patients (particularly infections) vs 38 in controls. One HSCT patient died.

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Gene-edited Kidney Organoids Re-Create Human Disease

Benjamin Freedman, Ph.D. Assistant Professor | University of Washington Department of Medicine | Division of Nephrology Member, Kidney Research Institute Member, Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Seattle WA 98109

Dr. Benjamin Freedman

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Benjamin Freedman, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor | University of Washington
Department of Medicine | Division of Nephrology
Member, Kidney Research Institute
Member, Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine
Seattle WA 98109 

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Freedman: We are born with a limited number of kidney tubular subunits called nephrons. There are many different types of kidney disease that affect different parts of the nephron. The common denominator between all of these diseases is the irreversible loss of nephrons, which causes chronic kidney disease in 730 million patients worldwide, and end stage renal disease in 2.5 million. Few treatments have been discovered that specifically treat kidney disease, and the therapeutic gold standards, dialysis and transplant, are of limited availability and efficacy.

Pluripotent stem cells are a renewable source of patient-specific human tissues for regeneration and disease analysis. In our study, we investigated the potential of pluripotent cells to re-create functional kidney tissue and disease in the lab. Pluripotent cells treated with a simple chemical cocktail matured into mini-kidney ‘organoids’ that closely resembled nephrons. Using an advanced gene editing technique called CRISPR, we created stem cells with genetic mutations linked to two common kidney diseases, polycystic kidney disease (PKD) and glomerulonephritis. Mini-kidneys derived from these genetically engineered cells showed specific ‘symptoms’ of these two different diseases in the petri dish.

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Attacking Pancreatic Cancer Stem Cells May Lead To Better Treatment

Patricia Sancho, PhD, Lecturer Barts Cancer Institute - a Cancer Research UK Centre of Excellence Queen Mary University of London Centre for Stem Cells in Cancer & Ageing / John Vane Science Centre, Charterhouse Square, London EC1M 6BQMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Patricia Sancho, PhD, Lecturer

Barts Cancer Institute – a Cancer Research UK Centre of Excellence
Queen Mary University of London
Centre for Stem Cells in Cancer & Ageing / John Vane Science Centre, Charterhouse Square, London

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Sancho: Cancer cells commonly rely on glycolysis, the type of metabolism that does not use oxygen to generate their energy however, we have now found that not all cancer cells are alike when it comes to metabolism. Pancreatic Cancer Stem cells (PancCSCs) can make use of a more efficient form of metabolism, called oxidative phosphorylation or OXPHOS, which does use oxygen. OXPHOS uses a part of the cell called mitochondria and it is this which can be targeted with anti-diabetic drug, metformin. Some PancSCs are however able to escape this treatment by being much more flexible in their metabolism, leading to a recurrence of the cancer, but we also found a way to prevent such resistance and force all Pancreatic Cancer Stem cells to keep using OXPHOS.

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Random Stem Cell Divisions May Play Role in Persistent HPV Infections

Marc Ryser PhD Visiting Assistant Professor Department of Mathematics Duke University Durham, North CarolinaMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Marc Ryser PhD
Visiting Assistant Professor Department of Mathematics
Duke University Durham, North Carolina

Medical Research: What is the background for this study

Dr. Ryser: Infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV) is responsible for approximately 5% of all cancers worldwide. In addition to cervical cancers, HPV is associated with various other female and male cancers, including cancers of the anus and oropharynx. Despite expansive screening and vaccination programs, HPV-related cancers remain a serious public health concern in the US and abroad. To further improve public health interventions against HPV, a thorough understanding of the underlying biology is critical.

The lifetime risk of getting infected with HPV is as high as 80%, yet most individuals remain asymptomatic and clear the virus after 1-2 years.  However, if an infection with a high-risk type of HPV persists, the virus can interfere with the replication mechanism of the host cells, and initiate tumor growth. Even though our understanding is incomplete to date, clearance of HPV infections is primarily attributed to an effective immune response.

Interestingly, recent studies about the stem cell dynamics in epithelial tissues – the types of tissues that are affected by HPV –  have shown that the fate of these stem cells is random: most of the time, a stem cell divides into a new stem cell and a differentiating daughter cell; however, every now and then, a stem cell divides either into two stem cells, or into two differentiating daughter cells. These dynamics have not been acknowledged by the HPV community, and our goal was to develop mathematical models to examine whether the random division patterns of stem cells could play a role in the clearance of HPV infections.
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Pancreatic Stem Cells May Reverse Diabetes and Obesity

Timothy J. Kieffer Ph.D. | Professor Laboratory of Molecular & Cellular Medicine Department of Cellular & Physiological Sciences Department of Surgery | Life Sciences Institute The University of British Columbia Vancouver BC Canada MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Timothy J. Kieffer
 Ph.D. | Professor
Laboratory of Molecular & Cellular Medicine
Department of Cellular & Physiological Sciences
Department of Surgery | Life Sciences Institute
The University of British Columbia
Vancouver BC Canada

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Kieffer: Previously we have examined the therapeutic potential of pancreatic precursor cells derived from human stem cells for insulin replacement in models of type 1 diabetes (PMID: 22740171 & PMID: 23771205). Here we sought to test the efficacy of cell-based insulin replacement in a model of type 2 diabetes, which is by far the most common form of diabetes. Key aspects of type 2 diabetes could be mimicked in immunodeficient mice, namely hyperglycemia and insulin resistance accompanied by excess body weight, by placing the mice on high fat diets. These diabetic mice were transplanted with human stem cell derived pancreatic precursor cells contained within macroencapsulation devices. The diabetic setting did not negatively impact the ability of the transplanted cells to mature into insulin-producing cells. Moreover, the cell transplants were able to significantly improve glucose homeostasis, particularly when combined with low doses of traditional anti-diabetic drugs. Intriguingly, the combined therapy also induced weight loss, such that treated mice were similar in weight to control mice reared on a low fat diet. Continue reading

Scientists Complete First Steps Toward Making Sperm and Eggs From Skin Stem Cells

Jacob (Yaqub) Hanna  M.D. Ph.D. Kimmel Investigator | NYSCF Robertson Investigator The Department of Molecular Genetics Weizmann Institute of Science, IsraelMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Jacob (Yaqub) Hanna  M.D. Ph.D.
Kimmel Investigator | NYSCF Robertson Investigator
The Department of Molecular Genetics
Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel

MedicalResearch: Could this be helpful for any individual with infertility problems? 

Dr Hanna: Our research is focused on taking skin cell samples and converting them into embryonic-like stem cells (iPS cells) via direct reprogramming and without using embryo derived stem cell lines. Then we are focusing in differentiating these male or female iPS lines into sperm cells or oocytes, respectively. We have succeeded in the first and most important step of the process, where we succeed in reaching the progenitor cell state for sperm and egg (we have not achieved mature sperm and eggs ….Very important to emphasize!). So we are now focusing on completing the second half of this process. Once that is achieved this may become useful for any individual with fertility problems.

MedicalResearch: Could this be a viable option ALSO for same-sex couples?  What are the prospects for letting gay or lesbian couples produce progenitor cell state cells from their skin cells? For example, is it conceivable that the “second half” of the protocol could some day also be done in vitro (making fully mature sperm and eggs), so that men could produce egg cells and women sperm cells?
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