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Press Releases from AlphaMed Press

August 7, 2012

Pluripotent stem cells can develop into various kinds of cells in the body, such as muscle, blood vessels, and bone cells; however, there are several barriers to culturing adult stem cells in a petri dish. It has been especially difficult to generate blood stem cells in the lab without using animal serum, which can carry viruses that interfere with cell reproduction and create other complications.

Schiedlmeier and Klump used mouse embryonic stem cells to grow blood-forming stem cells in low-oxygen conditions in the lab without using any serum or supportive cells known as stroma. When they transplanted the blood-forming cells into mice, they found the cells were capable of rebuilding the mice's blood-forming system.

Their discovery means that scientists may eventually be able to create blood stem cells from transplant patients in a lab rather than using stem cells from unrelated donors, avoiding dangerous "graft versus host" reactions.

August 7, 2012

Using human stem cells from sources such as cord blood and circulating blood as well as embryonic stem cells, they produced a much higher yield of red blood cells than has previously been possible. "We combined different cell expansion protocols into a 'cocktail' that increased the number of cells we could produce by ten to 100 fold," Bouhassira said.

Blood transfusions, developed more than 80 years ago, are essential component of many surgeries, trauma medicine, and blood cancer therapies, and are one of the primary treatments for people with sickle cell anemia and other blood diseases. However, the blood needed for such transfusions is obtained only through donations and can be in short supply, particularly for chronically transfused people who require rare blood groups. The methods described by the researchers can be used to produce blood with any blood groups.

July 27, 2012

"We had already discovered how VD3 increases the transforming growth factor TGF-ß2 and alkali-phosphatase activity — two essential features of hair-inducing DPCs. This time we focused on VD3's therapeutic potency and values for hair regeneration," said Kotaro Yoshimura, M.D. "The results suggest that it may be useful in expanding human DPCs with good quality, and help establish a DPC transplantation therapy for growing hair."

Yoshimura and Noriyuki Aoi, M.D., both of the University of Tokyo (UT) School of Medicine, led scientists from UT, Osaka University and the Japan Science and Technology Agency in the investigation. After running more tests on how VD3 affected another crucial element for hair growth called Wnt10b gene expression, they collected DPCs from volunteers who had undergone facelifts, incubated the DPCs with VD3 and then grafted them onto hairless skin samples taken from rats.

May 15, 2012

The study, led by Dr. Kenji Miki, a cardiovascular surgeon at Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine, appears in the May issue of STEM CELLS Translational Medicine.

Miki's team removed adult stem cells from 30 female mice and genetically modified them to mimic embryonic stem cells. They then used the modified stem cells to grow sheets of healthy heart muscle tissue and implanted them into rats with damaged heart muscle.

The implanted tissue sheets survived for four weeks and the damaged hearts of the rats that received them began to heal, they found.

"The tissue we developed not only survived but improved heart function," Dr. Miki said. "We believe this study could lead to a very real procedure to regenerate the heart."

Implanting the new cells in sheet form appeared to improve their ability to transfer to the damaged host cells, he added.

March 7, 2012

Ischemic heart disease, caused by vessel blockage, is a leading cause of death in many western countries. Studies have shown the potential of stem cells in regenerating heart tissue damaged during an attack. But even as the list of candidate cells for cardiac regeneration has expanded, none has emerged as the obvious choice, possibly because several cell types are needed to regenerate both the heart’s muscles and its vascular components.

Aside from the choice of the right cell source for tissue regeneration, the best way to deliver the stem cells is up for debate, too, as intravenous delivery and injections can be inefficient and possibly harmful. While embryonic stem cells have shown great promise for heart repairs due to their ability to differentiate into virtually any cell type, less than 10 percent of injected cells typically survive the engraftment and of that number generally only 2 percent actually colonize the heart.

March 7, 2012

A fat graft, also called an autologous adipose (fat) tissue transplantation, uses a patient’s own adipose tissue to increase the volume of fat in the subcutaneous area, which functions as the body’s major storage site for fat. The graft promotes three-dimensional reconstruction in patients who have undergone a traumatic or post-surgical event such as a mastectomy, or who suffer from a congenital or chronic debilitative condition.

However, the success of fat graft in clinical use has been limited by a variable but unpredictable low survival rate.

February 15, 2012

“Having a rapid, effective system for generating MSCs is essential for the translation of these stem cell technologies to the clinic. The method reported here, which bypasses the need for harvesting from bone marrow or fat, is a promising solution,” commented Dr. Anthony Atala, director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine and editor of STEM CELLS Translational Medicine, on the significance of this new study.

Because of their immunosuppressive properties and ability to differentiate into a wide range of mesenchymal-lineage tissues, MSCs show great potential for treating cardiac, renal, neural, joint and bone diseases and injuries as well as inflammatory conditions and hemopoietic co-transplantation.

However, MSCs are typically harvested from adult bone marrow or fat, which not only is painful but also yields low amounts.

February 15, 2012

As both of these cell types are currently in clinical trials, these results are significant because they are the first direct comparison of their therapeutic capability in vivo, the researchers say.

“This research — showing that CSCs can be 30 times more potent than MSCs — is significant because it can impact the design of future clinical trials,” said Dr. Anthony Atala, director of the Wake Forest Institute of Regenerative Medicine and editor of STEM CELLS Translational Medicine. “The results from the study, one of a few to compare efficacy, have the potential to make the translation process more efficient, speeding the development of new effective therapies.”

January 23, 2012

Dr. Meyer-Blazejewska, from the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, in Germany, won the award for her research into Limbal stem cell deficiency (LSCD), a condition which causes the cornea to become cloudy and develop a rough surface causing pain and leading to blindness.

Currently, treatments focus on harvesting limbal cells from a patient’s healthy eye or from cadaveric tissue. In her pioneering research, Dr. Meyer-Blazejewska considered the potential use of stem cells harvested from hair follicles to reconstruct damaged tissue for patients who suffer from LSCD in both eyes.

November 10, 2011

"Stem cell differentiation and transplantation has been shown to improve function in conditions including degenerative diseases and blood supply disorders," said Dr Chan. "However, the survival rate of transplanted cells in patients limits their overall effectiveness, which is a barrier to clinical use."

To overcome this issue Dr Chan’s team explored de-differentiation, a process that reverts specialized, differentiated cells back to a more primitive cell. The team focused their research on multipotent stem cells, (MSCs) which can be altered into a variety of cell types through differentiation. Bone marrow MSCs have the potential to differentiate into each of the three basic types of lineage cells which form bone (osteocytes), cartilage (chondrocytes) and fat tissue (adipocytes).