Cells Weekly – July 17, 2016

by Alexey Bersenev on July 18, 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. Resolving Betatrophin controversy
I’ve followed controversy around pacreatic beta-cells growth factor betatrophin, described by Harvard’s Doug Melton (read here and here). This week, “controversy resolution” report was published in PLoS ONE (emphases mine):

To resolve the controversy, three independent labs collaborated on a blinded study to test the effects of ANGPTL8 upon β-cell proliferation.

The results demonstrate that ANGPTL8 does not stimulate significant β-cell proliferation. Each lab employed different methods for β-cell identification, resulting in variable quantification of β-cell proliferation and suggests a need for standardizing practices for β-cell quantification. We also observed a new action of ANGPTL8 in stimulating CD45+ hematopoietic-derived cell proliferation which may explain, in part, published discrepancies. Overall, the hypothesis that ANGPTL8 induces dramatic and specific β-cell proliferation can no longer be supported.

I applaud to this collaborative effort! I wonder now what will happen with original Melton’s 2013 paper in Cell?

2. The first bioprinting web cloud
Bioprinting startup BioBots, has announced the first bioprinting world cloud – Build With Life. About the project from their newsletter:

That’s what we call our wiki, it’s full of protocols, experimental reports and all sorts of useful biofabrication things…

As of now, the cloud built-in in company’s web-site and composed of 3 parts: Wiki, protocols and bioreports. I think, this is great initiative and unique for bioprinting community.

3. Big acquisitions in cell bioprocessing tools industry
I could not miss two very recent industry events – acquisitions of cell manufacturing tools companies. First, Sartorius Stedim acquired startup company kSep Systems for ~$28M. kSep is large-scale centrifuge-based system for washing and concentration of cell products and other biologics.
Second, GE Helthcare acquired Swiss company BioSafe Group. BioSafe is a manufacturer and supplier of well-known cell bioprocessing system Sepax. These deals show that besides therapeutic area, bioprocessing tools area is very hot in cell therapy industry as well.

4. Tumoriigenicity and immunogenicity of directly reprogrammed cells
The safety of cells, induced into different lineages via direct reprogramming, remains a big open question. In the recent study, published in Scientific Reports, researchers compared tumorigenicity and immunogenicity of induced neural cells (iNSC) with iPS or ES cells or with adult neural stem cells and MSC in the model of syngenic transplantation into mouse brain:

We demonstrate that iPSCs, as well as ESCs, can form tumours in mouse brains, leading to tissue destruction and immune cell infiltration. In contrast, we report no evidence of tumour formation, brain injury or immune rejection in the iNSC, NSC, and MSC groups. Therefore, iNSC grafts are safer than iPSC grafts, with no resulting tumourigenicity or immunogenicity.

5. Commercial potential of gene therapy
Biotech analyst Ohad Hammer, have recently written interesting post on Open Reading Frame blog about gene therapy. He overviews potential catalysts and recent developments in gene therapy companies. He asks whether gene therapy could be a new growth driver Biotech industry in 2017 and sparks discussion in comment section.

While there are several hot areas in biotech such as gene editing and microbiome, most are still early and their applicability is unclear. Gene therapy, on the other hand, is more mature and de-risked with tens of clinical studies and the potential to treat (and perhaps cure) a wide range of diseases where treatment is inadequate or non-existent. The commercial upside from these programs is huge and should expand as additional indications are pursued.

6. Fresh reviews:
Platelet lysate as a substitute for animal serum for the ex-vivo expansion of MSC (Stem Cell Res Ther)
Current progress and future prospects in brain organoid research (Dev Biol)
The tumorigenic potential of pluripotent stem cells: What can we do to minimize it? (Bioessays)
Aging of hematopoietic stem cells: DNA damage and mutations? (Exp Hematol)

7. New methods and protocols:
Isolating mesangiogenic progenitor cells from human bone marrow (JoVE)
Serum-derived protein removes the need for coating in defined human pluripotent stem cell culture (Nat Commun)
ZNF-based gene editing of iPSCs from a Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome patient (Stem Cel Rep)
Purification protocol for retinal pigment epithelium from mouse iPS cells as a research tool (PLoS ONE)
Cryopreservation of bone marrow mononuclear cells alters their viability and composition but not their therapeutic effects in stroke model (Stem Cells Int)

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