Two UCLA Researchers recently received major multimillion dollar stem cell grants to help bring the benefits of new stem cell research to patients. These grants will fund two groundbreaking clinical trials set to begin in the beginning of 2014.
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Researchers at Harvard University have recently published the results of a human clinical trial of a therapeutic that could increase the chances of success for blood stem cell transplantation. This will be the first time that the Harvard Stem Cell Institute has brought a discovery from the lab through clinical trials, marking the success of Harvard’s nine year-old goal of conducting groundbreaking research through the institute.
Researchers at Emory University have discovered a way of packaging stem cells that make them much more effective in heart therapies. Using a capsule made of alginate, a gel-like substance, the researchers package the stem cells and attach them to the heart within a patch. According to Emory University, this capsule cause the stem cells’ healing to take place over time, rather than dying soon after they are introduced to the body, as they do without the capsule.
Funded in part by grants from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine and the NIH, researchers at the University of California, San Diego have come up with a simple, easily repeated RNA-based technique of generating human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). The study was published in the August 1st edition of Cell Stem Cell. The researchers’ method has wide-ranging applications for others searching for new cell therapies and use in other stem cell studies.
As humans, our bodies have the ability to naturally regenerate both skin and hair, but we only get two sets of teeth, and that's one set more than many other mammals. Reptiles and fish, on the other hand, have the ability to regrow teeth throughout their lifetime. Though we have guessed that specialized stem cells are involved, the cellular and molecular mechanisms behind tooth renewal in these animals have not been well understood until now. A research team at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine, led by Dr. Cheng-Ming Chuong, has recently published an article in PNAS detailing their study into the regrowth of alligator teeth. They chose a crocodilian model because the dentition is well-organized and implanted in sockets of the dental bone, similar to that of mammals (if more extensive) yet with the capacity for renewal. Contributors to the research included colleagues in Georgia, China, and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, who presumably provided the live research subjects.
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The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) is a major funding agency for stem cell research in the Golden State. Since voters approved the establishment of the agency in 2004, the CIRM has spent billions on research and facilities with the aim of making California the stem cell capital of the US. Now, in a move to advance that research mission even further, the agency has announced awards of $32M to investigators and stem cell companies to create a biobank of diseased cell lines for the use of researchers around the world. Called the Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell (hiPSC) Initiative Awards, the project will generate and ensure the availability of high quality disease-specific hiPSC resources for disease modeling, target discovery and drug discovery and development for prevalent, genetically complex diseases.
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Long considered one of the inferior senses, anyone who has lost their ability to taste as a result of age or cancer treatment will tell you life's luster is considerably dimmed in the absence of this sensory experience. Fortunately, research into taste and smell is going strong in Philadelphia at the Monell Chemical Senses Center, which is the only non-profit scientific basic research institute in the world dedicated entirely to understanding these intertwined senses. Once an entity within the University of Pennsylvania, the Center branched out on its own several decades ago, with labs a few blocks from the Penn campus on Market Street. Researchers at Monell work interdisciplinarily and many have joint appointments with Penn. Other research projects are carried out in conjunction with scientists at Thomas Jefferson University, also in Philly, and indeed with university and private lab investigators around the world.
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It might or might not surprise you that some very strong private biomedical research institute funding at the University of California San Francisco campus comes from the father of the first enclosed southern California shopping mall, on the one hand, and the founder of Star Trek on the other. Those two innovative individuals, J. David Gladstone and Gene Roddenberry respectively, have left much of their considerable legacy to science research into understanding human disease. A year ago this time, the Gladstone Institutes welcomed the Roddenberry Foundation into its research family with the establishment of the Roddenberry Center for Stem Cell Biology and Medicine within the Gladstone walls on Owens Street in Mission Bay. Two months ago one of the Gladstone's senior research scientists won the Nobel Prize for his groundbreaking work with induced pluripotent stem cells. Those events, in conjunction with the 3 decades of research milestones made by their scientists, as well as their affiliation with UCSF and its world-class stem cell research program position the Gladstone solidly to meet their 21st Century mission goal:
Researchers in the St. Giles Laboratory of Human Genetics of Infectious Diseases at Rockefeller University have recently published the results of a study that demonstrates how organs like the brain have their own defense systems which, when disrupted, can permit disease despite a healthy white blood cell count. The key is the production of interferon, which are proteins triggered by a receptor called TLR3 that send up the alarm to fight infection (by interfering with the pathogen's reproduction). When that TLR3 receptor is faulty on a neuron or other brain cell, no interferon is produced and the patient can suffer a disease of the brain even though that same pathogen is being combatted effectively in other parts of the body. We now know there seem to be localized systems of immune response within specific organs, and that interferon therapy may help patients with rare localized diseases.