Cells Weekly – May 19, 2013

by Alexey Bersenev on May 19, 2013 · 0 comments

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Cells Weekly turns one year! We started on May 20th 2012 and every week provided fresh information for you! We hope that you find this digest interesting and useful. Please leave your feedback and suggestions for the future content.

1. Human embryonic stem cells cloned via somatic cell nuclear transfer
It was the best paper and the most significant event of the week and, probably, of the whole year. Also it was the most highly discussed topic. Unfortunately, a lot of discussions and coverage were around “cloning hysteria“.

@pknoepfler polled his readers on “reaction to this breakthrough” and analyzed the current human cloning ban situation in US.

It is very much possible that premature ban of reproductive cloning will adversely affect SCNT. Therefore, under huge pressure of “cloning hysteria”, SCNT development for therapies could be halted. So, in the ethical debate about the human cloning, we always must take in account SCNT as a very promising method for generation of therapeutic cells and promote its development!

The next big step in SCNT development is (i) reproducibility and (ii) comparison to iPS cells.

2. Dramatic vision improvement in patient after ES cell therapy
Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) – the only company conducting embryonic stem cell-based therapy clinical trials. This week ACT release a news about one patient with dramatic vision improvement after transplantation of their product.

Irv Arons – independent ophthalmic industry analyst – wrote on his blog a very interesting story behind of this remarkable release and highlighted the significance:

So, what is the significance of this development. It is significant because it shows that, for the first time, a person suffering with the dry form of AMD (90% of all those with AMD) can obtain improved vision, going from legally blind (20/400), to normal vision (20/40), good enough to obtain a driver’s license in most states. Yes, this is just one patient, and early in this clinical trial, but hope prevails.

3. Turning point in Italian stem cell treatment scandal
We all were watching how Italian case is unfolding. As reported by Nature News Blog, the important decision has been made this week:

Yesterday (16 May) the Chamber’s social affairs committee unanimously passed amendments to the decree which would allow the Brescia-based Stamina Foundation, which developed the therapy, to continue administering it. However, Stamina would be required to do so within regular clinical trials, under the oversight of regulatory agencies, and using cells manufactured according to Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP). A supervisory ‘observatory’ comprising experts and patient representatives would oversee clinical trial procedures.

Street protests continued.

4. Poll on the ethics of payment for unproven cell therapy procedures
I started a poll: Can patients be charged for experimental cell therapy? Please take a minute and vote. Please read description before vote!

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

I’ll post a results later.

5. iPS cell patents landscape in US
iPS cell-related intellectual property is a hot topic. This week GEN posted a very interesting analysis of current iPS cell patents trends in US:

The initial search identified approximately 230 pending and issued patents having these terms in the claims. 177 pending applications and issued patents were selected as relevant.

6. Commercialization of cell therapies to treat stroke
Industry analyst @JNapodano wrote a very good overview about 2 public companies – Cytomedix and Athersys, assessing their commercial products in stroke patients:

The goal of this article is to introduce investors to the core technologies at each firm, outline each of their clinical trials currently underway in stroke, and provide a brief conclusion as to why we think cell therapy may offer hope where others have failed.

Highly recommended!

7. Functional hematopoietic stem cells from iPS cells
It has been very difficult and nearly impossible to generate fully functional and serially engraftable hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) from ES and iPS cells in vitro. This week, a group of Japanese researchers has reported about derivation of engraftable HSC from iPS cell-derived teratomas:

Here, we demonstrate a unique in vivo differentiation system yielding engraftable HSCs from mouse and human iPSCs in teratoma-bearing animals in combination with a maneuver to facilitate hematopoiesis.

This study demonstrated the possibility of HSC differentiation from iPS cells. Because it have been done only in vivo, we still have to learn how to make it ex vivo.

8. Returns in the Stem Cell Space – interview with Jason Kolbert
The Life Sciences Report posted a big interview with cell therapy industry analyst Jason Kolbert. If you’re following the industry, you can find a lot of interesting things from this interview:

A company can’t necessarily patent a cell, but the process, the method of use and, in some cases, the composition of the final product can be patented.

When we talk about cardiovascular disease, the last thing we want to do, because the market is so large, is a highly personalized, expensive approach. Here’s where Cytori shines, because it provides basically the best of both worlds. It has an autologous process with allogeneic-like COGS.

Clearly, the autologous companies try to maximize the allogeneic immune risks that you asserted in the previous question, and the allogeneic companies try to maximize the host comorbidity, cell-vitality argument.

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That’s all folks. Have a fantastic week!

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