Cells Weekly – December 9, 2012

by Alexey Bersenev on December 9, 2012 · 0 comments

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This is a digest of news and events in stem cell research, cell therapy and regenerative medicine – Cells Weekly. This week, we’ve asked you to help us to pick the best method of 2012. So far, we got very few responses. Please take a minute and vote!

1. Stem cell therapy 2012 trend – the year of lawsuits!
Korean company RNL Bio was entertaining us whole year. If you want to have a business with them – it will never be boring! This week 2 “partners” of RNL Bio in US – Human BioStar and CellTex sued each other on a court. You can read a brief summary of this messy story on Knoepfler Lab Stem Cell Blog and also here, here and here. We don’t know who is going to win in this situation (maybe Dr. Ra?), but, obviously, not patients:

Celltex goes on to allege that its employees have been denied access to the stem cells and that RNL moved the stem cells to an unauthorized location without its permission, the filings state.

In addition, “there are customers currently requesting their stem cells for therapeutic treatment that has been ordered by their treating physicians,” according to the suit.

Kelly Hills wrote a great post on RNL Bio-generated lawsuits:

What can appear to be a vendetta to patients and patient advocates who aren’t familiar with a situation can actually be completely justified within context, and the context here around RNL Bio – of numerous concerns about safety, grounded in known side-effects and patient deaths – matters. That patients themselves were not made aware of the connection between Celltex and RNL Bio/Human Biostar, let alone the issues surrounding RNL Bio/Human Biostar for the past going-on three years, should be of a concern to patients.

Just to complete the picture, read about other RNL Bio lawsuits here and here.
So, RNL Bio generated a fontain of lawsuits this year. We’re looking forward for 2013! We love entertainment!

2. Self-proclaimed “regenerative medicine pioneer” sues Nobel Assembly
As I said above – 2012 is the year of lawsuits. One more came up this week. Los Angeles-based Chinese researcher Rongxiang Xu accuses Nobel Assembly in false claims and defamation on 2012 Nobel Prize for reprogramming cells to pluripotency:

Dr. Xu believes, and alleges the Statement made by The Nobel Assembly is false as he was the scientist who made the discovery a decade earlier, therefore defaming his exemplary reputation.
“My main priority for filing this suit was to clarify the Academy’s mistaken and misleading statements for the preservation of humanity and future generations, life science research should not desecrate the nature of human life,” stated Dr. Xu.

This is the first lawsuit against Nobel Assembly. Read more here and here.
But, this is not the first “attack” on validity of iPS and Nobel 2012 – read here and here.

3. World Stem Cell Summit 2012 roundup
This week the World Stem Cell Summit 2012 finished in Florida. This is a stem cell conference with best media coverage. As always, I’ve collect links to the blog posts and tweets from the conference.

Knoepfler Lab Stem Cell Blog:
World Stem Cell Summit Blogging: Daley Plenary Talk
Contentious but wonderful WSCS panel on The Role of States in Regulating Stem Cell Therapies
WSCS2012: outstanding panel discussion on legal challenges to stem cell research
Frank panel on hidden dangers of stem cell treatments to patients at WSCS2012

CIRM Blog:
World Stem Cell Summit kicks off: opportunities and threats to the research
Near-term use for iPS cells: repurposing existing drugs
Advances in stem cell research: like going from a landline to an iPhone #wscs12
Legal and Policy Challenges to Stem Cell Research
Panel investigates unproven stem cell therapies #wscs12
NIH vs. CIRM funding of stem cell research #wscs12
“If they feel the heat, they see the light”: the role of the stem cell advocate #wscs12
Stem cell action awards gives nod to scientists fighting unregulated stem cell clinics #wscs12
Sabrina Cohen honored for providing inspiration and raising awareness #wscs12
Short takes from patient advocates at the World Stem Cell Summit #wscs12

2 blogs provided great live coverage! Excellent!
I aggregated the most interesting tweets from #WSCS in this story. I’d highly recommend you to read these tweets. Most tweets focused on discussions about regulation and ethics.

4. Stop FDA over-regulation of your own stem cells – petition to US White House
The discussion (the fight/ the battle) of the year – “are your stem cell drugs?” – have reached a tipping point. The public side of the debate created a petition – Stop FDA over reach into regulating our own stem cells. If this petition will get 25 000 votes in one month, the law makers should consider it and reply.
Personally, I like the concept of open debate on all levels, including conversation of lay public with law makers. But I’m not going to support this petition, because, I disagree with a title, terms, definitions and background information. I think, it’s over-simplification of very complex issue. I think, It worth our attention, because it’s very interesting turn in ongoing debate.

5. Public expectations and reality of stem cell therapies translation
I’ve written a post about a gap between expectation of general public and reality of stem cell therapies, based on analysis by Tania Bubela:

Given the research, regulatory, commercialization and health system hurdles involved in the clinical translation of SC research, it seems likely that patients and political supporters will become disappointed and disillusioned. In this environment, proponents need to make a concerted effort to temper claims.

I’d like to invite you to discuss this issue!

6. Mechanism of heart muscle regeneration unveiled
This was a research paper of the week to me. Scientists published a paper with short title – Mammalian heart renewal by pre-existing cardiomyocytes. This study challenges the concept of heart muscle regeneration by illusive “cardiac stem cells”. Jalees Rehman has blogged about this study:

They found that the adult mouse heart has a very low rate of cardiomyocyte regeneration and projected the annual proliferation rate to be only 0.76%. This means that less than one out of a hundred cardiomyocytes in the adult heart undergoes cell division during a one year period.

7. Incredible academic–industry partnership on generation of iPS cell lines for Pharma R&D
10 BioPharma companies and 23 academic institutions started an initiative called “StemBANCC”:

“The aim of StemBANCC is to generate and characterize 1,500 high quality human induced pluripotent stem cell lines derived from 500 patients that can be used by researchers to study a range of diseases including diabetes and dementia,” explained Martin Graf, head of the stem cell platform and coordinator of the project. “The cell lines will help implement patient models that will facilitate the drug development process thanks to the possibility of reproducing the disease mechanism in vitro.”

GEN cites a very interesting statistics for potential iPS cell research market growth:

According to ReportsnReports.com, induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are now sold by 53.4% of U.S. research product companies and 38.7% of research product companies worldwide. Annual growth in the number of iPSC research products sold worldwide is growing at a rate of 14.7% per year. In addition, 22% of all stem cell researchers now report having using iPSCs within a research project.

8. Regulation of biologics and stem cells in US, Europe and Australia
Two-part analysis, published in Stem Cells TM (part 1/ part 2), examines and compares regulatory framework for biologics and cells in US, Europe and Australia:

The objective of this study was to analyze and compare high-tier documents within the Australian, European, and U.S. biologic drug regulatory environments using qualitative methodology.

The articles available by registration.

9. Generation of neural cells from urine
As you may know, we have some epithelial cells in urine, and, theoretically they can be reprogrammed. Today Nature highlights the methodological paper, published in Nature Methods, which proofs this concept:

“We work on childhood disorders,” he says. “And it’s easier to get a child to give a urine sample than to prick them for blood.”

Apparently, generation of iPS cells from urine is less invasive method for obtaining parental cells. Less invasive than skin biopsy, blood draw or buccal swab.

That’s all for the week. Please vote in our recent polls and stay tuned for results!

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bonus (I WAS CRYING):

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