Stanford creates first PhD program in stem cell science

We offer an integrated and structured PhD training program in stem cells and regenerative medicine, incorporating taught and research elements to provide.Stanford University’s Faculty Senate today approved the creation of what officials believe is the first PhD program devoted solely to stem cell science in the nation and, perhaps, the world. The new doctoral program in stem cell biology and regenerative medicine is also the first interdisciplinary doctoral program created by the School of Medicine in recent years.

School officials say the fact that the university is taking the rare step of creating a new doctoral program acknowledges the growing importance of stem cell research in the realm of biomedical science. The senate’s initial approval of the program extends for five years.

Stem cell biology is a distinct discipline that requires unique skills and includes a scope of knowledge and a skill set that is not covered by other disciplines,” said Renee Reijo Pera, PhD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology and director of the new PhD program.

Program leaders note that Stanford is among a small number of U.S. universities that have the necessary ingredients to create a doctoral program teaching the full range of stem cell science. They add that although a few other schools have recently established PhD programs involving stem cell biology, Stanford is the first to create a free-standing doctoral program dedicated solely to stem cell biology and regenerative medicine.

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Professor Martin Elliott on Ciaran Finn-Lynch’s return home

Professor Martin Elliott on Ciaran Finn-Lynch's return home

“The tracheal team at Great Ormond Street Hospital is delighted that Ciaran is going home after his tracheal transplant. He is a wonderful boy who has become a great friend to us all, and he and his infinitely patient family have charmed us all. Ciaran has become our local iPad expert, and we will miss his advice. His recovery has been complicated, as one might expect for a new procedure, and we have kept him under close surveillance, hence the length of time he has been here. It is wonderful to see him active, smiling and breathing normally. We are very proud of him!

“Ciaran will continue to need regular follow up by us. This is so we can both make sure he is ok, and also learn what to expect for the next patient who needs this innovative therapy. The treatment offers hope to many whose major airways were previously considered untreatable or irreplaceable. We will continue to work with our colleagues in regenerative medicine throughout the world to ensure we can continue to improve both the science and treatment options.”

from http://www.ich.ucl.ac.uk/pressoffice/pressrelease_00852

Isolation of Seven Diverse Cartilage and Bone Cell Types From Stem Cells

BioTime Inc, a biotechnology company that develops and markets products in the field of regenerative medicine, and its subsidiaries OrthoCyte Corporation and LifeMap Sciences reported today a means of manufacturing seven distinct types of cartilage, bone, and tendon cells from human embryonic stem cells. The paper, scheduled to be published online (ahead of print) at 1600 GMT today in the peer-reviewed journal Regenerative Medicine, characterizes the seven cell types generated using BioTime’s proprietary PureStem(TM) technology. The study compared the novel cells with adult stem cells, known as mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), and revealed properties of the new cell lines that are suggestive of a wide array of future applications in the practice of orthopedic medicine.

In the study published today, it was demonstrated that BioTime’s cells, which can be manufactured on an industrial scale, are progenitors to diverse skeletal tissues of the human body. These cell lines bear diverse molecular markers that distinguish them from each other and from MSCs. The molecular markers of BioTime’s cell lines suggest the lines may therefore be applicable to the repair of different types of bone, cartilage, and tendon for the treatment of degenerative diseases afflicting these tissue types such as non-healing bone fractures, osteoarthritis and degeneration of intervertebral discs, and tendon tears (tendinosis).

Chronic orthopedic disorders such as osteoarthritis, degeneration of the discs in the spine, osteoporosis, and tendon tears are among the leading complaints and causes of disability in an aging society. The recent isolation of new pluripotent stem cells such as human embryonic stem (hES) cells and induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells opens the door to the manufacture of all of the cell types in the human body on an industrial scale. These achievements in the emerging field of regenerative medicine have made it feasible to introduce new modalities of repairing these and other tissues in the body.

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A clear policy in stem cells therapy will promote innovative healthcare

The rising cost of healthcare has been a cause of concern around the globe. The global economic crisis has seen governments such as the US and Japan attempting to minimise the cost of state-funded healthcare.

The increased prevalence of cardiovascular disorders, metabolic diseases, cancer, etc coupled with the emergence of more virulent forms of existing diseases poses a challenge for current medical therapies.

India is already seen as the world’s low-cost pharmacy as far as conventional therapies are concerned. And the recent economic and epidemiological changes present a lucrative opportunity for the Indian biotech industry to replicate this success in the field of innovative healthcare therapies that include biopharmaceuticals, vaccines, regenerative medicine, etc.

The Indian biotech industry registered a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20% in the past decade. While biosimilars generic versions of biologic drugs currently make the most significant contribution to the top-line, another promising field is regenerative medicine. This is a novel multi-disciplinary field that relies on cell therapeutics and bio-engineering techniques to enhance the functionality of organs and tissues.

Among various types of medical therapies that can be classified under regenerative medicine, stem cell therapy is, perhaps, the most well-known. Stem cell therapy began with bone marrow transplants.

Since then, the field has expanded to using adult stem cells, human embryonic stem cells and found uses in in-vitro-fertilization (IVF), biomaterial engineering, etc.

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New stem cell therapy could be used to halt Huntington’s advance

A team of researchers at the UC Davis Institute for Regenerative Cures has developed a technique for using stem cells to deliver therapy that specifically targets the genetic abnormality found in Huntington’s disease, a hereditary brain disorder that causes progressive uncontrolled movements, dementia and death. The findings, now available online in the journal Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience, suggest a promising approach that might block the disease from advancing.

“For the first time, we have been able to successfully deliver inhibitory RNA sequences from stem cells directly into neurons, significantly decreasing the synthesis of the abnormal huntingtin protein,” said Jan A. Nolta, principal investigator of the study and director of the UC Davis stem cell program and the UC Davis Institute for Regenerative Cures. “Our team has made a breakthrough that gives families affected by this disease hope that genetic therapy may one day become a reality.”

Huntington’s disease can be managed with medications, but currently there are no treatments for the physical, mental and behavioral decline of its victims. Nolta and other experts think the best chance to halt the disease’s progression will be to reduce or eliminate the mutant huntingtin (htt) protein found in the neurons of those with the disease. RNA interference (RNAi) technology has been shown to be highly effective at reducing htt protein levels and reversing disease symptoms in mouse models.

“Our challenge with RNA interference technology is to figure out how to deliver it into the human brain in a sustained, safe and effective manner,” said Nolta, whose lab recently received funding from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine to develop an RNAi delivery system for Huntington’s disease. “We’re exploring how to use human stem cells to create RNAi production factories within the brain.”

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