Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Ophthalmology, Stem Cells / 07.06.2021 Interview with: Ian A. White, M.S., Ph.D. Founder, President & Chief Scientific Officer Neobiosis, LLC  Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute University of Miami What is the mission of Stem Cell Institute and Neobiosis?   The Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute at the University of Miami was established to capitalize on pioneering work in the use of adult stem cells for the repair of malfunctioning human organs. The goal of the Institute is to find new treatments for heart disease, neurological disease, bone disease, diabetes, cancer, eye diseases, and other chronic, debilitating, or incurable diseases. Neobiosis is a privately-owned biotech company dedicated to the manufacture and development of regenerative tissues, cells, and the secretome from perinatal sources. Our mission is to provide high-quality products for research and clinical trials by focusing on the science of regenerative medicine. (more…)
Author Interviews, Leukemia, Stem Cells, Technology / 11.02.2021 Interview with: Eirini Papapetrou, MD, PhD Associate Professor Department of Oncological Sciences Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai New York, NY 10029 What is the background for this study? Would you tell us a little about acute myeloid leukemia? Response: Acute myeloid leukemia is a form of cancer of the blood. It is typically very aggressive and lethal without treatment. The main treatment is high-dose chemotherapy and it has not changed very much in decades. Some more recent "targeted" therapies that are less toxic help somewhat but still do not result in cures. We believe a reason for this might be that both chemotherapy and newer "targeted" therapies target the cells at the later stages of the disease and spare the earlier ones, which can then give rise to disease resistance and relapse.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Dermatology, Stem Cells, Surgical Research / 01.06.2020 Interview with: Charles-de-SáM.D., Ph.D. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil What is the background for this study? Response: Our clinical trial was based on our clinical skin observations in areas submitted to a lipotransfer previously, an ordinary practice in plastic surgery. These clinical observations lead us to investigate what will be the key element played in these findings. Our scientific support investigation addressed the Dardick1and Zuk, P2 studies, that demonstrated fibroblastic-like cells in adipose tissue with regenerative ability. Our clinical trial proposal is to investigate the adipose-derived stem cell (ADSC) role in the photoaged skin. The direct endpoint of the study was to assess the histological benefits provided by the subdermal ADSC injection. Mesenchymal stem cells were obtained from lipoaspirates, expanded in vitro, and introduced into the facial skin of 20 patients submitted after three to four months to a face-lifting surgery. In the retrieved skin, immunocytochemical and ultrastructural analysis quantified elastic matrix components, cathepsin-K, metalloprotease MMP-12, and the macrophage M2 markers: CD68, CD206 and heme-oxygenase-1.An overview of the trial steps is described in the infographic.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Diabetes, Stem Cells / 12.02.2020 Interview with: Andrew F. Stewart MD Director, Diabetes Obesity and Metabolism Institute Irene and Dr. Arthur M. Fishberg Professor of Medicine Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai New York, NY 10029 What is the background for this study? Response: Both common forms of diabetes result from reductions in the numbers of healthy insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. Having said that, people with both T1D and T2D almost always have residual beta cells. One way to approach this problem is by pancreas or islet transplant, or stem cell transplant approaches. These cannot easily or economically be scaled to the 30 million people in the US and the 420 million in the world with diabetes. Therefore, our approach is to develop drugs that can make the remaining beta cells regenerate and re-fill the beta cell tank. (more…)
Author Interviews, Kidney Disease, Stem Cells / 27.01.2020 Interview with: Dr. Orit Harari-Steinberg Dr. Dorit Omer Dr. Oren Pleniceanu Prof. Benjamin Dekel The Pediatric Stem Cell Research Institute Sheba Medical Center Tel Hashomer, Israel What is the background for this study? Response: The motivation behind this study is the rising epidemic of chronic kidney disease (CKD). With a prevalence in some reports of up to 17.3%  and very expensive treatments, especially in its advanced stages, CKD is more common than most people think, and it keeps growing at a very fast rate, due to the increasing number of patients suffering from diabetes and hypertension. At the same time, medicine doesn’t offer good solutions to these patients, with dialysis creating high morbidity and mortality. From the fact that 70,000 cells are shed in the urine each hour, we deduce that the kidney has the ability to form new cells to make up for this loss. In a previous work, we used a mouse model to show that cell clones form and proliferate in the adult kidney, so we know that cells of the adult kidney, or at least a portion thereof, have the ability to multiply in-vivo. It has been possible for quite a while to isolate proliferating cells from human kidneys and grow them in a dish. The problem, however, is that in order to achieve a large enough number of cells capable of regenerating the kidneys, massive expansion is needed ex-vivo, and that's the real obstacle. The reason is that following several passages, the cells lose their phenotype and become senescent, and therefore useless for regenerative purposes. In this study, we developed a unique 3D culturing method, growing the kidney cells in structures which we termed 'nephrospheres'. This culturing method rejuvenated the cells and allowed massive expansion for long periods of time. The positive effect on the cells was evident when we analyzed their transcriptome and found activation of molecular pathways associated with renal epithelial identity and renal tissue-forming capacity. What's even more striking, is that the same effect was seen when we used cells from the kidneys of CKD patients. We were then interested in determining whether these cells might also have a therapeutic effect. Indeed, when we injected these cells into mice with CKD (which was generated by resecting 5/6 of their kidneys), we saw a functional improvement in GFR. When we analyzed the treated kidneys, we found that the injected cell both formed renal tubule-like structures and integrated into existing host tubules, which resulted in a therapeutic effect. So, altogether, this study showed that our culturing method can serve as an effective means of establishing large numbers of autologous cells with regenerative capacity. (more…)
Author Interviews, Endocrinology, Stem Cells, Thyroid Disease / 05.11.2019 Interview with: Terry Davies, MD Co-Director, The Thyroid Center at Mount Sinai Union Square Professor, Medicine, Endocrinology, Diabetes and Bone Disease Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Many tissues contain stem cells that are responsible for regeneration and repair after injury. The mechanism of thyroid regeneration and the role of thyroid stem cells in this process is poorly understood. This an exploration of how the thyroid gland repairs itself. Using a mouse model we found that a damaged gland can correct itself within 4 weeks and this involves a rapid increase in stem cells driving the repair.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Dental Research, Stem Cells / 05.07.2019 Interview with: Dr. Ivan V. Reva Senior Researcher, Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology School of Biomedicine, Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU) What are the prerequisites for this study?  Response: The existence of congenital and acquired malformations of the teeth and jaws and the many shortcomings of artificial implants dictate the search for alternative methods of treatment of adentia. The prerequisites were the study of the development of the human gastrointestinal tract in the embryonic period, since it is during this period that all the most significant events occur in the structuring of all parts of the gastrointestinal tract, especially the oral cavity, the knowledge of which is necessary for developing a strategy for regenerative medicine. This is associated with obtaining ideas about cell-cell interactions for the cultivation of bioengineering structures of various sections of the gastrointestinal tract, including jaws and teeth. growing-new-teethIt was noted that the differentiation of the structures of the developing jaws is ahead of other divisions. The presence of chromophobic spindle-shaped cells migrating in the direction of the tooth rudiments and their location in the region surrounding the enamel organ indicates intercellular interactions in the development of teeth in humans that differ from these processes in lower vertebrates. At the present stage, it is known that ectomesenchyme is involved in cell assemblies participating in the development of dentin. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brain Injury, Stem Cells, Surgical Research, University of Pittsburgh / 18.04.2019 Interview with: Dr. David Okonkwo, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Neurological surgery Director of the Neurotrauma Clinical Trials Center University of Pittsburgh Dr. Okonkwo discusses the results from the STEMTRA Phase 2 trial evaluating the efficacy and safety of SB623 in patients with chronic motor deficit from traumatic brain injury. The results were presented at the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS), April 2019 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major cause of death and disability in the US and around the globe. The effects of TBI are often long-lasting, with more than one-third of severe TBI patients displaying a neuromotor abnormality on physical examination 2 years following injury and, yet, there are no effective treatments. The public health implications are staggering: there are approximately 1.4 million new cases of TBI in the US annually, resulting in over 50,000 deaths and 80,000 disabilities; over 5 million Americans currently suffer from long-term disability caused by TBI. A successful neuroregenerative or neurorestorative therapy, such as stem cell implantation, would have significant impact. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, JAMA, Stem Cells / 26.03.2019 Interview with: Annetine C. Gelijns, PhD Professor and System Chair Population Health Science and Policy Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Alan J Moskowitz, MD Professor of Population Health Science and Policy Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai What is the background for this study? Where do these mesenchymal cells come from?  Response: Implantable LVADs significantly improve the survival and quality of life of advanced heart failure patients. However, these devices are associated with substantial adverse events, including infection and thromboembolic events. Moreover, whereas these devices improve myocardial function, few patients recover sufficient function to be explanted from their LVAD. These observations have focused attention on stem cells as a possible adjunctive therapy to further augment cardiac recovery. Mesenchymal precursor cells (MPCs), which are obtained from healthy donors and culture-expanded, have been shown in animal and early human studies to improve cardiac function. Using temporary weaning as a signal of cardiac recovery, we conducted an exploratory trial in the Cardiothoracic Surgical Trials Network (CTSN), which found that MPCs increased the probability of temporary weaning from full LVAD support compared to sham-control patients. Therefore, this signal of efficacy led the CTSN to design our current follow-up trial evaluating the efficacy and safety of a higher dose of MPCs in LVAD patients. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Pulmonary Disease, Stem Cells, Transplantation / 21.05.2018 Interview with: Emmanuel Martinod MD PhD Assistance Publique–Hôpitaux de Paris, Hôpitaux Universitaires Paris Seine-Saint-Denis, Hôpital Avicenne, Chirurgie Thoracique et Vasculaire, Université Paris 13, Sorbonne Paris Cité, UFR Santé, Médecine et Biologie Humaine, Bobigny, Université Paris Descartes, Fondation Alain Carpentier, Laboratoire de Recherche Bio-chirurgicale, Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris, Hôpital Européen Georges Pompidou Paris, France What is the background for this exciting new technology and study? What are the main findings?  Response: What is the background for this exciting new technology and study? What are the main findings? Response:  The background is 10 years of research at laboratory followed by 10 years of academic clinical research. We demonstrated the feasability of airway bioengeenring using stented aortic matrices for complex tracheal or bronchial reconstruction.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Ophthalmology, Stem Cells, Stroke / 28.03.2018 Interview with: Steven Levy MD CEO, MD Stem Cells Study Director, Stem Cell Treatment Studies What is the background for this study? Response: MD Stem Cells is the sponsor of the Stem Cell Ophthalmology Treatment Study II (SCOTS 2) the largest stem cell study currently addressing retinal and optic nerve disease (NCT 03011541). SCOTS uses autologous bone marrow derived stem cells (BMSC) typically provided to the eyes by combining retrobulbar, subtenons and intravenous injections. Many retinal and optic nerve diseases are eligible including Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), Stargardts, Ushers, Glaucoma, Ischemic Optic Neuropathy, Optic Atrophy and others. Statistically significant improvements have been documented in key diseases and positive responses have been noted across most conditions treated. Mechanisms of action may include differentiation of the CD34 cells into neurons, secretion of neurotrophic factors, transfer of mitochondria and release of mRNA. These may benefit existing stressed cells as well as provide replacement of damaged or absent cells. (more…)
Author Interviews, Autism, Stem Cells, Transplantation / 10.02.2018 Interview with: Michael G. Chez, M.D. Director of Pediatric Neurology Sutter Memorial Hospital Director of the Pediatric Epilepsy and Autism Programs Sutter Neuroscience Group What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: The study looked at possible use of autologous cord blood as a source of stem cells in patients with autism. The patients had to have fairly good genetic screening per protocol and had confirmation of autism to participate. The use of cord blood was a pilot cross over double blind study with hypothesis that a post natal factor or immune dysregulation may add to the autism clinical phenotype. Cord blood ( the baby’s own from birth) is a safe source of mixed stem cell types and should be safe from rejection or autoimmune reaction in theory. Infusion /placebo or placebo/infusion was randomized and observed and tested every 3 months with switch to other wing of treatment at 0 and 6 months. Total observation was over 1 year. (more…)
Author Interviews, Stem Cells, Technology / 14.12.2017 Interview with: Osipov PhD Insilico Medicine and Dmitry Klokov PhD Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, Chalk River, Ontario, Canada 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. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Stem Cells / 17.11.2017 Interview with:   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 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. (more…)
Author Interviews, Stem Cells, Technology / 25.08.2017 Interview with: John Arnone Chairman and CEO American CryoStem Corporation 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. (more…)
Author Interviews, Diabetes, Stem Cells, Weight Research / 04.08.2017 Interview with: Dr. Xiaoyang Wu PhD Ben May Department for Cancer Research The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 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. (more…)
Author Interviews, Stem Cells, Technology / 26.04.2017 Interview with: Sang Jin Lee, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine Wake Forest School of Medicine Wake Forest University 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. (more…)
Author Interviews, Dermatology, Orthopedics, Stem Cells / 22.04.2017 with: Lee Buckler, CEO RepliCel Life Sciences What is the background for this your company, 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. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Stem Cells / 17.04.2017 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 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. (more…)
Author Interviews, Neurological Disorders, Stem Cells / 12.04.2017 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 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. (more…)
Author Interviews, NIH, Ophthalmology, Stem Cells / 06.02.2017 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 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. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Neurological Disorders, Pediatrics, Science, Stem Cells / 27.01.2017 Interview with: 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. 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. (more…)
Author Interviews, Nature, Stem Cells / 09.12.2016 Interview with: Professor Jan Karlseder Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory Donald and Darlene Shiley Chair Salk Institute for Biological Studies 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. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Kidney Disease, Stem Cells / 20.11.2016 Interview with: Dr. Ryuji Morizane MD, PhD Associate Biologist, Renal Division Brigham and Women’s Hospital Affiliated Faculty, Harvard Stem Cell Institute Instructor, Harvard Medical School 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. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, PNAS, Stem Cells / 20.11.2016 Interview with: Thomas Bartosh Jr, Ph.D. Assistant Professor Medical Physiology Texas A&M Health Science Center 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. (more…)
Author Interviews, Nature, Stem Cells / 07.11.2016 Interview with: Dr. Fred Levine MD PhD Professor & Director Sanford Children's Health Research Center Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute La Jolla, CA 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. (more…)
Author Interviews, Lancet, Orthopedics, Stem Cells / 21.10.2016 Interview with: Professor Ivan Martin, PhD Department of Surgery and Department of Biomedicine University Hospital Basel University of Basel Basel, Switzerland 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. (more…)
Author Interviews, Karolinski Institute, Stem Cells, Tobacco / 05.10.2016 Interview with: Lukasz Antoniewicz MD, PhD candidate Karolinska Institutet Department of Clinical Sciences Danderyd University Hospital Stockholm, Sweden 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. (more…)