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.

Click here for complete article

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.

International Stem Cell Begins Pre-Clinical Testing of Its Parthenogenetic Stem Cells for Treatment of Retinal Disease

First Company To Grow Human Corneal Tissue From Stem Cells

Oceanside, California,  January 13, 2009 — International Stem Cell Corporation
(OTCBB: ISCO) has created layered human tissue from its unique parthenogenetic stem cells and transplanted this tissue into animals in pre-clinical trials to establish a potential new treatment for human retinal diseases, such as macular degeneration or retinitis pigmentosa.

“Intact layers of retinal progenitor cells have been shown to restore lost visual responses in several retinal degeneration rodent models,” said Dr. Hans Keirstead, Co-Director of the Sue and Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center at the University of California, Irvine.
“Thus, we are developing intact retinal layers derived from International Stem Cell’s human parthenogenetic stem cells which could become a sustainable, FDA-approved therapeutic supply for patients with retinal degenerative diseases.”

ISCO’s human parthenogenetic stem cells have the potential to treat human disease yet possess key medical and ethical advantages over other kinds of stem cell products. They can be matched to common immune types and thus reduce the chance of transplant rejection among large segments of the population. Because they are created from unfertilized human eggs, they do not require the destruction of human embryos.

“We are aggressively pushing forward safe treatments for human diseases using
parthenogenetic stem cells,” said Jeffrey Janus, President of International Stem Cell.

“If we are successful in this work, our next step is to manufacture this layered human tissue for further tests, including human trials. This illustrates the strengths of combining scientific collaborations with outside researchers such as Dr. Keirstead with ISCO’s science and cell manufacturing expertise.”

For more information, visit the ISCO website at: www.internationalstemcell.com

Cellartis Deposits Cell Lines with U.S. National Stem Cell Bank

All NIH Human Embryonic Stem Cell Registry Lines Now on Deposit at NSCB

January 12, 2009, Madison, Wis.–The U.S. National Stem Cell Bank (NSCB) has announced that it has received deposits of two human embryonic stem cell lines from Cellartis AB, a biotechnology company based in Sweden. With the addition of the new lines, the National Stem Cell Bank now has received all 21 cell lines from the six providers listed on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) federal registry.

Currently, 16 of these lines have completed the NSCB’s extensive quality control process and are available for distribution to research scientists around the world. The NSCB’s initial testing process, which can take several months or longer to finalize, begins upon receipt of a new cell line and is carried out to ensure the identity of the cell line, cell characteristics and that the starting cell material is free from contaminants.

The NIH established the country’s first National Stem Cell Bank at the WiCell™ Research Institute, a private, nonprofit supporting organization to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, in September 2005. Its mission is to obtain, characterize and distribute the 21 human embryonic stem cell lines that currently may be used in U.S. federally funded research. All six providers of the NIH-registry stem cell lines – WiCell at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of California, San Francisco and Novocell in the U.S.; ES Cell International (ESI) in Singapore; Technion in Israel; and Cellartis in Sweden – were invited to deposit their cells by the NSCB shortly after it was established.

Derek Hei, a University of Wisconsin-Madison researcher and leader of the National Stem Cell Bank, says the availability of a variety of human embryonic stem cell lines for study is critical to advancing the field. “The addition of the Cellartis lines to the National Stem Cell Bank is extremely important because now we’ll be able to distribute these lines to the worldwide research community,” he states. “We’ll also be able to generate data unique to these lines that is valuable to the advancement of stem cell research.”

Mats Lundwall, CEO of Cellartis, says, “We are delighted to have this collaboration with the U.S. National Stem Cell Bank that will increase the amount of NIH eligible lines readily available in the U.S. The Cellartis cell lines are among the most extensively characterized in the world and now their distribution within the U.S. has been further facilitated through this partnership.”

See NationalStemCellBank.org for complete article.

Revolutionary stem cell therapy boosts body’s ability to heal itself

British researchers hope treatment will help repair heart attack damage or broken bones
By Ian Sample, science correspondent, guardian.co.uk

A stem cell emerging from rat bone marrow. By stimulating the release of stem cells after a heart attack, the healing process could be accelerated. Photograph: Imperial College London

A stem cell emerging from rat bone marrow. By stimulating the release of stem cells after a heart attack, the healing process could be accelerated. Photograph: Imperial College London

A groundbreaking medical treatment that could dramatically enhance the body’s ability to repair itself has been developed by a team of British researchers.

The therapy, which makes the body release a flood of stem cells into the bloodstream, is designed to heal serious tissue damage caused by heart attacks and even repair broken bones. It is expected to enter animal trials later this year and if successful will mark a major step towards the ultimate goal of using patients’ own stem cells to regenerate damaged and diseased organs.
‘This would allow bodies to heal themselves’ Link to this audio

When the body is injured, bone marrow releases stem cells that home in on the damaged area. When they arrive, they start to grow into new tissues, such as heart cells, blood vessels, bone and cartilage.

Scientists already know how to make bone marrow release a type of stem cell that can only make fresh blood cells. The technique is used to collect cells from bone marrow donors to treat people with the blood cancer leukaemia.

Now a team led by Sara Rankin at Imperial College London has discovered a way to stimulate bone marrow to release two other types of stem cell, which between them can repair bone, blood vessels and cartilage. Giving mice a drug called mozobil and a naturally occuring growth factor called VEGF boosted stem cell counts in their bloodstream more than 100-fold.

“This has huge and broad implications. It’s an untapped process,” said Rankin, whose study appears in the US journal Cell Stem Cell. “Suppose a person comes in to hospital having had a heart attack. You give them these drugs and stem cells are quickly released into the blood. We know they will naturally home in on areas of damage, so if you’ve got a broken bone, or you’ve had a heart attack, the stem cells will go there. In response to a heart attack, you’d accelerate the repair process.”