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360 Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine Newsletter - Jan 28, 2015

Featured Video : ESPN & Keith Olbermann showcase Gordie Howe’s stem cell treatment

We should pay attention to that intersection where stem cells meet the popular press. The legendary icon of hockey, Gordie Howe, is one of the most notable sports celebrities to receive stem cell treatments. In our featured video, Stemedica’s Dr. Maynard Howe (no relation to Gordie) joined ESPN’s Keith Olbermann to discuss the experimental treatment that some say saved Gordie Howe’s life. This story has received enormous media coverage and has drawn criticism. Journalist Terry Dawes of the Cantech Letter looked at all sides of the issue surrounding Gordie’s treatment. To read his informative article, click here.
World Stem Cell Summit
New York Times: Obama to request research funding for treatments tailored to patients’ DNA
“President Obama will seek hundreds of millions of dollars for a new initiative to develop medical treatments tailored to genetic and other characteristics of individual patients, administration officials say. The proposal, mentioned briefly in his State of the Union address, will be described in greater detail in his budget in the coming weeks. The effort is likely to receive support from members of both parties, lawmakers said.” 

360 Editor’s commentary: While it is commendable that President Obama is proposing this ambitious initiative, it is perplexing that in the “here and now” there is a bottleneck at the NIH holding up research on reprogrammed cells- potentially useful to personalized medicine. Since 2013, the NIH keeps a seemingly iron grip on at least 400 induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) lines created by the Institute from orphan and rare disease disorders. Scientists say the cell lines could be of immense value to research. Contrary to prior NIH pronouncements, and for unknown reasons, the cells created in 2013 are not being made available to outside researchers.
Further, resources generated by NIH sponsored research are meant to be accessible to other researchers. It is a NIH requirement for funding. Thus, it is extremely frustrating that the reportedly 20,000 iSPC lines generated with NIH funds to the extramural program have not been distributed to researchers, despite a process enabling such distribution.  The cell lines are being generated with NIH funding from NHLBI, NINDS, NIMH, NIGMS and other institutes. To date, we have no clarity on how these lines will be made widely available. Certainly, bureaucratic delay, indifference and neglect are not valid excuses when fighting chronic disease. So, what is the reason? Dr. Collins, it’s imperative that all these valuable cell lines be made available to researchers now.
The Conversation: Australia scientists worry that stem cell tourism risks have arrived in their backyard
Two leading stem cell researchers, Megan Munsie and Martin Pera, describe the risks associated with what they perceive as a regulatory loophole in Australia. “The use of the patient’s own cells (no matter how they are produced and given back to the patient) remains broadly unregulated. This means that rather than having to collect evidence in a registered trial before they take their product to the clinic, some Australian doctors are selling what is effectively experimental therapy.”
Researchers develop method to induce human hair growth using pluripotent stem cells
According to the Stanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute media release, this is the first step toward the development of a cell-based treatment for people with hair loss. Alexey Terskikh, Ph.D., associate professor in the Development, Aging, and Regeneration Program stated that their stem cell method “provides an unlimited source of cells from the patient for transplantation and isn't limited by the availability of existing hair follicles." The research was published online in PLOS One.
Featured video #2- Super animation: The birth and engraftment of a blood stem cell | Boston Children's Hospital

The video is narrated by Dr. Leonard  Zon, who first described to me (the nonscientist) the merits of the mighty little zebrafish in biomedical research. That conversation took place at the inaugural ISSCR meeting way back in 2003  Dr. Zon is  currently the director of the Stem Cell Research Program and professor of stem cell and regenerative biology at Harvard Medical School. 
Hogan Lovells
Harvard Gazette: Imaging captures how blood stem cells take root- Step-by-step observations will help scientists enhance bone-marrow transplants 
According to the Gazette, “A see-through zebrafish and enhanced imaging provide the first direct glimpse of how blood stem cells take root in the body to generate blood.” Researchers described “a surprisingly dynamic system that offers several clues for improving bone-marrow transplants in patients with cancer, severe immune deficiencies, and blood disorders, and for helping those transplants ‘take.’ ” The findings were published in the journal Cell.
Cord Blood Registry and China Cord Blood Corporation enter into strategic collaboration
According to the joint press release, “Cord Blood Registry® (CBR®), the world's largest newborn stem cell company, and China Cord Blood Corporation (CCBC [NYSE: CO]), China's first and largest umbilical cord blood bank, have entered into a memorandum of understanding regarding their strategic collaboration in China and the United States. The two prominent cord blood banks will share data on cord blood collection, processing and storage to advance international standards. The companies will also work together under the memorandum, to develop a family disease registry for CCBC's clients in China and jointly support newborn stem cell-related clinical trials in the U.S. and China. In the aggregate, the two companies have collected and stored samples from an estimated 1 million newborn children worldwide, accounting for nearly half of all cord blood units preserved globally.”
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center: Researchers advance the science behind treating patients with corneal blindness
“Researchers in the Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors Regenerative Medicine Institute have devised a novel way to generate transplantable corneal stem cells that may eventually benefit patients suffering from life-altering forms of blindness.
Scientists used human corneal cells to generate pluripotent stem cells that have a capacity to become virtually any body cell. Then, putting these cells on natural scaffolds, researcher's facilitated differentiation of these stem cells back to corneal cells.” The research was published in the official journal of the Regenerative Medicine Foundation, Stem Cells Translational Medicine.
Curtain yet to fall on STAP saga- Obokata may face criminal charges as former colleague alleges she stole stem cells
The Japan Times reports that “a criminal investigation now seems likely in the STAP stem-cell research debacle after a former Riken researcher filed a criminal complaint against disgraced scientist Haruko Obokata, alleging she stole samples of embryonic stem cells before reporting that she had created her version of stem cells with a novel technique.”
GEN: How to best hinder or halt the aging process- a roundtable discussion from the World Stem Cell Summit
Last month at the World Stem Cell Summit in San Antonio, TX, GEN’s editor-in-chief John Sterling moderated a panel discussion on “Regeneration Medicine: A New Era of Discovery and Innovation.” GEN has published a Q&A based on some of the responses of several panel members. The panelists included Marie Csete, M.D., Ph.D., CSO, Huntington Medical Research Institutes; Aubrey de Grey, Ph.D., CSO and co-founder of SENS Research Foundation and editor-in-chief of Rejuvenation Research; Jeanne F. Loring, Ph.D., professor of developmental neurobiology and director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine, Scripps Research Institute (California); and Graham Parker, Ph.D., assistant professor (research), department of pediatrics, Wayne State University School of Medicine and editor-in-chief of Stem Cells and Development.
MF Monitor: Indian scientists clone near-extinct wild buffalo
It is indeed a cause for celebration for all those rooting for the Asiatic wild water buffalo. Scientists at India’s National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI) successfully cloned the extremely rare buffalo. NDRI Director A.K. Srivastava told the Indian Science Journal that, “We have the necessary expertise and infrastructure to multiply this endangered species.”

360 Newsletter Editor

Bernard Siegel
Executive Director 
Genetics Policy Institute


Stem Cells and the Transformative Power of Hope-a TEDx talk by Bernard Siegel, Editor of 360 Newsletter

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