Posts Tagged ‘stem cell research’

New discovery may save endangered animals from extinction

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 09-05-2011

Drill primate; Photo credit: San Diego Zoo

Starting with normal skin cells, scientists from The Scripps Research Institute have produced the first stem cells from endangered species. Such cells could eventually make it possible to improve reproduction and genetic diversity for some species, possibly saving them from extinction, or to bolster the health of endangered animals in captivity.

A description of the accomplishment appeared in an advance online edition of the journal Nature Methods on September 4, 2011.

For more information click here.

There is still hope for stem cell research

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 08-07-2011

Stem cell scientists, do not despair! Despite concerns over iPSC-derived teratomas and altered genomic and epigenomic states, researchers at UC Davis have written a roadmap for finding solutions to the problems identified with iPSCs which has been published last week in the journal Cell.

According to Paul S. Knoepfler, UC Davis associate professor of cell biology and human anatomy:

iPSCs offer the potential to treat many diseases as an alternative or adjuvant therapy to drugs or surgery. Problems that have been identified with their use likely can be overcome, allowing iPSCs to jump from the laboratory dish to patients who could benefit from them.

To read more click here.

First mapping of methylation event in embryonic stem cells

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 07-25-2011

Stem cell researchers at UCLA have generated the first genome-wide mapping of a DNA modification called 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC) in embryonic stem cells, and discovered that it is predominantly found in genes that are turned on, or active.

According to Steven E. Jacobsen, a professor of molecular, cell and developmental biology in the Life Sciences and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, 5hmC is formed from the DNA base cytosine by adding a methyl group and then a hydroxy group. The molecule is important in epigenetics because the newly formed hydroxymethyl group on the cytosine can potentially switch a gene on and off.

The molecule 5hmC was only recently discovered, and its function has not been clearly understood, Jacobsen said. Until now, researchers didn’t know where 5hmC was located within the genome.

For more read UCLA scientists complete first mapping of molecule found in human embryonic stem cells

Low funding levels impede translation of stem cell research into therapy

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 05-26-2011

We’re so close, yet so far. Despite the many advances in stem cell research over the past decade, low funding of basic science research is making it difficult for scientists to move stem cell therapies from the bench to the bedside.

A new article published by Cell Press in the May 26 issue of the journal Neuron provides comprehensive insight into the current status of neural stem cell research and the sometimes labyrinthine pathways leading to stem cell-based therapies. The perspective on translating neural stem cell research into clinical therapeutics is part of a special issue of Neuron devoted to neural stem cells and neurogenesis and is published in collaboration with the May issue of Cell Stem Cell, which also has a selection of reviews on this topic.

Neurological disease and injury are a major cause of disability worldwide, and there is a pressing need to find reparative therapeutics for the central nervous system (CNS). Although stem cell therapies represent the frontier of regenerative medicine, the “bench to bedside” leap where scientific discoveries in the laboratory are translated to actual patient therapeutics faces many challenging hurdles.

“Stem cell research is one of the most rapidly developing areas of science and medicine,” says study author Dr. Sally Temple from the Neural Stem Cell Institute in Rensselaer, New York. “The explosive rise in discoveries and technologies that we see in the basic research labs has yet to enter the pipeline, and there is an enormous gap between what we can do at the bench and what we see in the current clinical trials. It is imperative that we work towards making the process of translation more effective and affordable.”

In their article, Dr. Temple and colleagues describe the current status of stem cell-based CNS therapies, analyze currently approved clinical trials, and discuss key issues associated with translational progress. The authors report that many basic scientists are struggling with low funding levels and that funding cutbacks substantially impede new research directions. They suggest that successfully transitioning from the lab to the clinics requires a comprehensive and collaborative team effort among researchers, clinicians, regulatory agencies, patient advocacy groups, ethics bodies, and industry, and they stress that pioneering this new partnership model is essential for smooth translational path that will improve the chance that the health benefits of research reach patients.

“There is no doubt that stem cell research and application is opening great opportunities in CNS regenerative therapies and, although our survey shows that we are still at relatively early stages of defining safety for human trials, stupendous strides are being made in preclinical studies,” says Dr. Temple. “However, we must engage basic researchers and their institutions to ensure that they participate in the rewards of successful translation and benefit from revenue return that will fund further creative discoveries. We envision a much more concerted effort towards translation that would make the process more accessible and efficient, forging new private/public partnerships that will spread both risks and benefits in the process. Ultimately, the rewards of solving this problem could be seen at every level, from the next generation of young scientists to the patients. We need to take steps soon, as the challenge posed by neurological disorders is growing.”

Source: Cell Press (via EurekAlert!)

Moving gene therapy one step closer to clinical reality

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 04-05-2011

Scientists from the Morgridge Institute for Research, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of California and the WiCell Research Institute moved gene therapy one step closer to clinical reality by determining that the process of correcting a genetic defect does not substantially increase the number of potentially cancer-causing mutations in induced pluripotent stem cells.

Their work, published in the online edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and funded by a Wynn-Gund Translational Award from the Foundation Fighting Blindness, suggests that human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) altered to correct a genetic defect may be cultured into subsequent generations of cells that remain free of the initial disease.

However, although the gene correction itself does not increase the instability or the number of observed mutations in the cells, the study reinforced other recent findings that induced pluripotent stem cells themselves carry a significant number of genetic mutations.

In brief, scientists produced iPS cells by episomal reprogramming, corrected a disease-causing mutation by homologous recombination and removed the puromycin cassette that was used for gene selection using Cre recombinase.

Results of the study indicate that both homozygous recombination and cassette removal did not increase the iPS mutational load. Nonetheless, the initial induction of primary dermal fibroblasts into iPS cells lead to a fairly substantial mutational load at the time of derivation.

This study is important in that it demonstrated that downstream cloning events do not introduce further mutations into iPS cells which can be a source of tremendous therapeutic value. Nonetheless, it is important for further studies to focus on reducing mutational events caused by iPS induction which may be a serious drawback to introducing iPS therapy into the clinic.

Sources:

Howden S et al, (2011) Genetic correction and analysis of induced pluripotentstem cells from a patient with gyrate atrophy. PNAS

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