Cells Weekly – January 31, 2016

by Alexey Bersenev on February 1, 2016 · 0 comments

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Cells Weekly is a digest of the most interesting news and events in stem cell research, cell therapy and regenerative medicine. Cells Weekly is posted every Sunday night!


1. Industry standards for regenerative medicine
Recently, new legislation was introduced to US Congress, entitled Advancing Standards in Regenerative Medicine Act. It was an initiative of Senator Baldwin. New bill will support of establishment “Standards Coordinating Body” for developing of standards.

The Secretary shall issue guidance, as appropriate, on how standards may be used in regulatory review for regenerative medicine and advanced therapies.

2. Generation of new synthetic logic gate receptors
A research group from UCSF, led by Wendell Lim, described new technique to manipulate of cell behavior through synthetic chimeric receptor. In the first paper, they introduced the concept of synNotch receptor. In the second paper, they used synNotch to “logically” switch-on CAR T-cells. From USCF press release:

“SynNotch receptors provide us with one of the most flexible ways we have to reprogram the behavior and function of almost any cell,” said Wendell A. Lim, PhD, chair and professor of cellular and molecular pharmacology at UCSF, and senior author of the two new papers. “One of the most exciting applications is in engineering therapeutic cells – we can now provide these cells with highly precise instructions about how to recognize and respond to disease.”

When synNotch-equipped T cells were injected into the mice, the T cells did not attack tumors expressing only the antigen targeted by the CAR, because the synNotch activation necessary for the CAR to be present did not occur. If both antigens were present, however, synNotch activation prompted the expression of the CAR receptor, which then recognized the second antigen and launched the T cell’s killing program.

3. A decade of iPS cell discovery
Cell journal has a nice feature, dedicated to 10 years of Yamanaka’s first iPS cell publication. First, they put great editorial – A Cell-ebration of Induced Pluripotency. Second, an iPS Timeline poster. Finally, paperclip podcast. As they said, more reviews are coming.

4. Advance in encapsulation of stem cell-derived beta cells
A study, published this week in Nature Medicine, was portray by mass media as “breakthrough” and “diabetes cure”. Well, for studies backed up by “big name” scientists from MIT and Harvard, this reaction is very typical. Encapsulation of human embryonic stem cell-derived beta-cells allowed to achieve long-term control of glycemia in diabetic immunocompetent mice. From STAT news:

The beta cells performed “every bit as good as the body’s own cells,” said Melton, a co-author on the Nature Medicine paper.
The transplanted cells controlled glucose levels in the mice without immune-suppressing drugs, the researchers reported. And when the scientists removed the capsules after almost six months, the cells were still cranking out insulin and there was little sign of an immune response to the capsules.

5. Surprising gene editing patent by Cellctis
This is a year old news, but it captured my attention very recently.
You all have heard about ongoing CRISPR patent battle between University of Berkley and Broad Institute. But, recent article in BioPharm Reporter discusses potential repercussions of the patent, which was awarded about a year ago to French company Cellectis and Harvard University. This is a broad patent, which covers gene editing techniques, based on chimeric endonucleases. The patent could cover variety of gene editing methods, including ZFN, TALENs, CRISPR and mega-TALE. BioPharm Reporter interviewed some experts and companies, which could be affected.

6. Patient sues stem cell clinic in US
Paul Knoepfler wrote about very interesting lawsuit case, where US Stem Cell Clinic (Florida) is being sued by their patient:

Importantly, neither U.S. Stem Cell, Inc. (USSC) and U.S. Stem Cell Clinic (USCC; owned by USSC) nor the individuals mentioned in the lawsuit have been found guilty of anything and this case is still pending so it is impossible to know for certain what did or did not happen.

7. New methods and protocols:
CRISPR/Cas9 editing of retinitis pigmentosa in patient-derived iPS cells (Sci Rep)
Engraftment and long-term safety of enteric neural crest cells transplanted into mouse gut (PLoS ONE)
Serum provokes gene expression variability in mouse ES cell culture (Cell Rep)
Generation of trunk neural crest from human pluripotent stem cells (Sci Rep)
Cell type of origin minimally affects gene expression in iPSCs (PLoS Genet)

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