Obama Issues Executive Order To Lift Some Federal Restrictions On Embryonic Stem Cell Research

President Obama on Monday at an event with Democratic and Republican lawmakers is expected to announce that he will reverse restrictions put in place by former President George W. Bush on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, in keeping with campaign promises to “separate science and politics,” the New York Times reports. Although the decision to reverse the restrictions is “not surprising,” it is “nonetheless of great interest, involving a long-controversial intersection of science and personal moral beliefs,” the Times reports (Stout/Harris, New York Times, 3/7). According to the Washington Post, Bush imposed restrictions in August 2001 that limited federal funding to studies involving stem cell lines that were already in existence — about 21 lines. By lifting the restrictions, Obama will “allow thousands of scientists to study hundreds” of stem cell lines that have been developed during the last eight years, the Post reports. Researchers also will be able to “dismantle cumbersome bureaucracies constructed to work around the constraints and let them exchange scientific ideas more easily,” the Post reports (Stein, Washington Post, 3/7).

Obama’s announcement that he intends to lift the restrictions “is not likely to lead to any immediate change in government policy,” the Times reports. It may take many months for NIH to develop new guidelines for the research, but advocates are expected “to push for the process to go as quickly as possible” so universities can have adequate time to submit grant proposals before September 2010, when NIH must give out the last of the $10.4 billion allotted to the agency in the economic stimulus law.

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Multiple Sclerosis Stem Cell Therapy News Coverage

Creating Embryonic Stem Cell Lines


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The inner cell mass (ICM) cells of blastocyst-stage early human embryos can be removed and cultured. These cells can be grown in the lab indefinitely. Various growth factors cause these cells to develop into a variety of differentiated cells, such as muscle or nerve cells.

Stem Cells Cut AIDS Virus in Patient, Ending Need for Drugs

A German AIDS patient was able to stop drugs he had been taking for 10 years after getting a transplant of stem cells from a donor with a rare gene variant known to resist the deadly disease. The transplant also cured his leukemia, researchers reported.

The stem cell donor was among the 1 percent of Caucasians who have the variant gene that lacks a section known as CCR5 that helps the AIDS virus enter a cell, according to a report today in the New England Journal of Medicine. Doctors in Berlin hoped that putting the donor’s stem cells in the patient would rebuild his immune system and blood cells so they would lack the CCR5 piece.

The results of the experiment may point researchers to a new way of controlling the AIDS virus HIV that doesn’t force patients to take drugs for the rest of their lives. Scientists will now intensify their search for therapies that achieve the same effect, predicted Jay Levy, a University of California, San Francisco, AIDS researcher.

“I think this article is going to stimulate a lot of companies to put more emphasis on gene therapy,” Levy said yesterday in a telephone interview. He wasn’t involved in the research and wrote an editorial published today that accompanied the study.

One such trial sponsored by Sangamo Biosciences of Richmond, California, recently began at the University of Pennsylvania. It will test a gene therapy that aims to modify the immune cells in 12 patients infected with HIV so they lack the CCR5 receptor.

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Video – International Stem Cell Corporation CEO Ken Aldrich

International Stem Cell Corporation is a California company that has developed breakthrough human stem cell lines that promise to eliminate the rejection of transplanted cells by the patients immune system.

International Stem Cell Corporation Chairman and CEO Ken Aldrich

Dogs Cloned Using Stem Cells

For more info see Firm Hails Dog Clone Breakthrough

Geron gets FDA OK for embryonic stem-cell based therapy

From BizJournals.com

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted clearance of an investigational new drug application that lets Geron Corp. move forward with the world’s first study of a human embryonic stem cell based therapy in man, the company said late Thursday.

Menlo Park-based Geron (NASDAQ:GERN) said it plans to initiate a Phase I multi-center trial that is designed to establish the safety of the drug GRNOPC1 in patients with “complete” American Spinal Injury Association grade A subacute thoracic spinal cord injuries.

“The FDA’s clearance of our GRNOPC1 IND is one of Geron’s most significant accomplishments to date,” said Dr. Thomas B. Okarma, Geron’s president and CEO. “This marks the beginning of what is potentially a new chapter in medical therapeutics — one that reaches beyond pills to a new level of healing: the restoration of organ and tissue function achieved by the injection of healthy replacement cells.”

The ultimate goal for the use of GRNOPC1 is restore spinal cord function by injecting hESC-derived oligodendrocyte progenitor cells directly into the patient’s injured spinal cord.”

Geron funded the original research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison that led to the first isolation of hESCs. The production of oligodendrocytes from hESCs is covered by patent rights licensed to Geron from the University of California.

TAP Launches Unique Automated Stem Cell Picker at Stem Cells World Congress To Help Researchers Rapidly Select Stem Cells of Consistent Quality

SOURCE: The Automation Partnership

CAMBRIDGE, England, Jan 20, 2009 (BUSINESS WIRE) — The Automation Partnership (TAP), a world leading supplier of innovative automation for life science today announced CellCelector(TM), the world’s first commercial automated stem cell picker is on show at the Stem Cells World Congress in Palm Springs, USA.

CellCelector consists of an inverted Olympus microscope, robotic arm and liquid handling station all fully integrated to powerful image acquisition and analysis software. This walk away system allows researchers to set parameters for cell or colony types they want (including size, proximity to other colonies or roundness). The picking tool on the robotic arm gently picks and dispenses cells into a microplate well in just 30 seconds. CellCelector benefits researchers by reducing the time and effort required for this challenging task and assuring the cells chosen are of consistent quality.

CellCelector can fit into any standard laminar flow hood, thus ensuring cells remain contamination free. The system can also be fitted with an autoclave compatible metal tool for scraping adherent cells or a disposable glass capillary for picking single cells, both of which are designed with features for maintaining cell integrity and viability.

CellCelector, developed by German cell biology automation specialists, Aviso is being successfully used in prestigious universities and institutes across Europe with murine and human stem cells. The system, now available in the USA and Canada, exclusively from TAP will also be shown on Booth 437, LabAutomation 2009, Palm Springs, USA.

David Newble, TAP’s CEO Designate, states: “TAP has been renowned for supplying automated cell culture technology for 20 years. We are excited to be partnering with Aviso to continue expanding TAP’s expertise into stem cell applications. The Aviso CellCelector complements our automated cell culture products, such as CompacT SelecT and like them, CellCelector will ensure researchers can increase throughput and improve the quality of their stem cells.”

The Automation Partnership
Matthew Walker, Head of Communications
Tel: +44 (0) 1763 227200
Fax: +44 (0) 1763-227201
matthew.walker@automationpartnership.com

Stem cell trial to be held in Scotland

From UK Trade & Invetment

Scotland is to trial a new stem cell treatment which could help patients with corneal blindness.

An innovative new treatment which uses stem cells to combat certain types of blindness is to be tested in Scotland.

Researchers at the Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion in Edinburgh and Glasgow’s Gartnavel General Hospital will start a two-year trial using around 20 patients with corneal disease.

The technique will take stem cells from dead adult donors, which are then transplanted onto the surface of the cornea in the hope it could help to restore sight.

By using material from deceased donors, the method has avoided the controversy which surrounds embryonic stem cell research.

Professor Bal Dhillon, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at Princess Alexandra and the project’s leader, commented: “This study is the first of its kind anywhere in the world and it is exciting to be involved in such groundbreaking work.

Last year, international pharmaceutical giant Pfizer established a biotechnology hub in the UK to carry out research into stem cell treatments for degenerative diseases and damaged organs.

A Stem Cell Treatment ‘against AIDS’

From Hindu.com

Scientists claim to have achieved a major breakthrough in the fight against AIDS with a new stem cell treatment which “protects the immune system from HIV that causes the disease”.

According to them, the pioneering technique involves isolating three genes which curb the spread of HIV inside the body, introducing them into human stem cells in a lab and then transplanting the stem cells into a patient’s bone marrow.

“What we are doing is genetically modifying a fraction of the patient’s stem cells with genes that target three diffe -rent aspects of HIV that allow it to get in the immune cells and replicate.

“When those stem cells are transplanted into patients, they create mature immune cells that circulate in the patient and protect against HIV,” ‘The Daily Telegraph’ quoted David DiGiusto of City of Hope Medical Centre in California, where the research was carried out, as saying.

In the first human trial, the scientists transplanted anti-HIV stem cells into five AIDS patients undergoing bone- marrow replacement as part of treatment for a form of cancer known as lymphoma.

Preliminary results showed that small quantities of the transplanted stem cells were able to grow and produce new white blood cells resistant to HIV resulting in an improvement in the patients’ conditions.

Now, they are planning further research to establish whether the treatment could even rid patients of HIV infection altogether.

“It is still an experimental treatment at the moment, but we hope that eventually we will be able to give AIDS pati- ents one transplant and that would then protect them for life.

We have data to show that the resistant cells are persisting in our lymphoma patients,” DiGiusto said.