Cells Weekly – September 30, 2012

by Alexey Bersenev on September 30, 2012 · 1 comment

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Welcome to the 20th issue of the Cells Weekly! The stem cell research and cell therapy field is on a hype peak. Every week we are drowning in the flood of news and publications. How to pick the gems – most important and valuable ones? Cells Weekly is one of the filters, attempting to do that. But we want it to be more collaborative and more community-based. Please, suggest us how to make news filters in this field more collaborative and bring more discussions.

1. Conditional cell immortalization in personalized medicine – the first clinical case
It was a “news of the week” for me! I love translation, I live for translation. It was very very translational. Very nice study! Read more here.

2. Update on SCIPIO trial, assessing cardiac progenitor cells in cardiomyopathy
If you’re following exciting field of cardiac cell therapy, you may eagerly awaiting results of trials, assessing cardiac progenitor cells. One of the most interesting and promising trials – SCIPIO is moving to Phase 2. About results of Phase 1 and some predictions I discussed in the recent blog post:

One of the advantages of SCIPIO trial is a time point for cell therapy = 4 months after CABG surgery. The rational behind is the notion that CABG alone can give spontaneous improvement within first 4 months after procedure. So, this approach can clearly dissect impact of cell therapy from CABG.

As Roberto Bolli has mentioned in video below, they observed efficacy persistence for 2 years now. That’s very good news!

3. Paul Knoepfler discusses the recent iPS paper from Jaenisch’s lab.
The paper was published recently in Cell. If you don’t have a background in molecular biology and iPS research, it’s hard to digest and draw the big picture. I admire Paul’s ability to explain the study in plain English, using analogy:

Imagine you are on a plane (this is your fibroblast cell) and the pilot dies.
You have to fly the jumbo jet plane and land it (turn it into an iPS cell), but you are not a pilot.
You go up to the cockpit and are confronted with hundreds of buttons.
Which is the right one?
Who knows.

This is a great way to explain science! I hope we can learn how to communicate scientific findings to the public.
One of my favorite posts of this year!

4. Aged niche affect function of muscle stem cells
The function of tissue resident adult stem deteriorates with age. One of the potential mechanisms is aging of stem cell niche. The recent study, published in Nature, unveiled a mechanism of niche-dependent muscle stem cell aging:

Here we demonstrate that the aged muscle stem cell niche, the muscle fibre, expresses Fgf2 under homeostatic conditions, driving a subset of satellite cells to break quiescence and lose their self-renewing capacity.

5. New route of delivery for cellular therapeutics
The route of cell delivery play an important role in cell migration, survival and function after transplantation. Frequently, intravenous infusion doesn’t allow cell engraftment in targeted organ. New route for delivery of cell therapeutics – a lymph node – was proposed in the recent study:

Direct injection of hepatocytes into a single mouse lymph node generated enough ectopic liver mass to rescue the survival of mice with lethal metabolic disease. Furthermore, thymuses transplanted into single lymph nodes of athymic nude mice generated functional immune systems that were capable of rejecting allogeneic and xenogeneic grafts. Additionally, pancreatic islets injected into the lymph nodes of diabetic mice restored normal glucose control.

This is a great study with far reaching perspectives!

6. Heterogeneous mesenchymal stromal cell populations modulate tumor progression
Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) in cancer – double-edged sword? Friend or foe? This is a big BIG question. New study, published in PLoS ONE, could shed more light on this problem. Two years ago Aline Betancourt’s group identified 2 different subsets of human bone marrow-derived MSC in culture. In the current study, they tested MSC1 and MSC2 in ovarian cancer model and demonstrated divergent effect of these subsets on tumor growth:

These observations indicate that the MSC1 and MSC2 phenotypes may be convenient tools for the discovery of critical components of the tumor stroma. The continued investigation of these cells may help ensure that cell based-therapy is used safely and effectively in human disease.

I find the concept of MSC polarization interesting and fascinating. It looks analogous to such immune cells as monocytes or T-lymphocytes. I hope we can play with functionally heterogeneous MSC subsets in therapeutic settings.

7. Anticipated commercial cell products on the market in 2013-2014
@celltherapy posted a good overview of industry clinical cell products in late stages of development. That’s what we’re expecting to see on the market during the next 1-2 years.

8. Can cells regenerate your capital? More on investment
The Life Sciences Report posted very interesting interview with Stephen Dunn. He is an investor in life sciences and in stem cells.

If cellular therapy or regenerative medicine can replace defective cells with healthy cells with a single implantation procedure per lifetime, and improve the functionality of these patients, the healthcare cost reductions would easily provide support for very high pricing. It’s not hard to imagine that success in any one of these indications could generate $10B or more in revenues.

Oh man, if only they really can…

9. International Stem Cell Awareness Day – October 3, 2012
Yes, it is coming! Folks, say something about stem cells this day. Say whatever you think is important. That’s exactly what Teisha Rowland did in her excellent blog post.


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Aline Betancourt October 2, 2012 at 11:19 am

Thanks for the mention! We are excited about the cool findings of the potential interaction of mast cells in the tumor microenvironment being differently affected by MSC1 and MSC2 phenotypes. We have now successfully tested these phenotypes in 4 different animal disease models. Our start-up Wibi+Works, LLC is developing the MSC1/MSC2 therapies further. More to come soon…thanks, Ali


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