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ISSCR Show Preview: Sunny days for stem cells
May 2019
by Mel J. Yeates  |  Email the author
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International Society for Stem Cell Research
ISSCR 2019 Annual Meeting
June 26-29, 2019
Los Angeles Convention Center
Los Angeles, Calif.
 
Sunny days for stem cells
ISSCR makes its way to sunny L.A. for its 17th annual meeting
 
By Mel J. Yeates
 
For the first time, the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) has chosen vibrant Los Angeles for its upcoming annual gathering—this time the ISSCR 2019 Annual Meeting—co-sponsored by USC Stem Cell, which will run from June 26-29. With more than 4,000 attendees, more than 200 speakers and 35 scientific sessions, ISSCR will bring together stem cell researchers and clinicians from around the globe. 
 
Behind its glitz and glamour, Los Angeles is a hot spot for life-sciences initiatives. L.A. has a growing life-sciences industry, providing an ideal setting for the largest global stem cell event. ISSCR 2019 events, such as the public symposium and pre-meeting education, will highlight how L.A.’s local scientific scene influences the global stem cell community.
 
Top scientists and researchers from academia, medicine and industry will gather to share groundbreaking stem cell science and its translation to clinical application, and highlight the latest developments in the field. Topics at the upcoming show will include engineering tissues and organs, pluripotency and iPS cell reprogramming, organoids and disease modeling, and breakthrough therapies currently in clinical trial.
 
“Remarks by Nobel laureates John Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka will open and close the meeting, with Gurdon delivering keynote remarks at the Presidential Symposium and Yamanaka speaking at the closing plenary,” said Dr. Douglas Melton, the Xander University Professor at Harvard University and current ISSCR president.
 
Poster sessions are a cornerstone of the annual meeting, and are the place for engaging, one-on-one discussions with researchers. Three two-hour sessions will be held in the exhibit hall on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings, and will begin with a reception of light snacks. Around 1,600 posters will be displayed in topic-focused areas mapped out around the poster floor. Each poster is displayed for a day, and the presenter will be at the poster for one hour of the poster session to discuss their work. Odd-numbered posters will be presented in the first hour, and even-numbered posters in the second hour.
 
“An exciting new approach to the annual meeting this year is the focus of each plenary session on a major tissue type, with speakers presenting science from the bench to the bedside,” noted Melton. “For example, plenary sessions include Mechanisms and Applications of Mesodermal Tissues, Regeneration of Endodermal Organs, Surface Ectoderm and Endocrine Organs and more, each providing an in-depth look into development and disease. Concurrent sessions bring an additional focus to topics such as Stem Cells and Cancer, Mechanisms of Transdifferentiation, [and] Epigenetic Regulation of Cell Identity.”
 
“The plenary sessions feature scientists who have transformed their respective fields, including Hans Clevers, Paola Arlotta, Austin Smith, Sangeeta Bhatia and Clodagh O’Shea, to name but a few.  And we expect to hear, as before, on significant advances in understanding the basic biology of stem cells, technological innovations, and potential new treatments for human disease. We very much hope to hear from innovative junior and senior scientists throughout the meeting who are undertaking bold experiments,” Melton continued.
 
As for what’s new in 2019, Melton pointed out that “the meeting will feature a Science Advocacy and Communications Seminar that features a number of scientists who have been involved in outreach with policy makers and the public.”
 
The Science Advocacy & Communications seminar has panelists who will speak about messages that resonate with policy makers, journalists and the public, and how to share science with less technical audiences, offering advice on communication skills and effective outreach. The panel will include several biotechnology reporters, as well as professors and researchers.
 
“The 2019 Workshop on Clinical Translation, in its fourth year, brings together speakers from academia, industry, regulatory agencies and healthcare to discuss approaches to disease modeling and cell therapies,” added Melton. “This year’s topic, ‘Advancing Clinical Trials with Stem Cells’ is designed to follow the translational process from preclinical modeling toward and through clinical trials.”
 
In the Innovation Showcases, exhibitors will feature new and updated products, services, tools and technologies and demonstrate how they can be used in laboratory and other settings. Attendees can learn about how the latest product offerings in 30- or 60-minute presentations.
 
Melton also expressed that “an excellent series of Focus Sessions the morning of Wednesday, 26 June features discussions by thought leaders on such topics as the clinical development and commercialization of iPSC-based therapies, stem cell engineering for therapeutic applications, developing an investigational new drug (IND) application and more. Innovation Showcases on 27 and 28 June are a terrific way to learn about new products, services, tools and technologies to help you in the lab or your career.”
 
“We’ve ... developed a new approach that will showcase the talents of the next generation of scientists. For the first time, 15 plenary speaking spots will be dedicated to abstract-selected speakers, giving young researchers the chance to share their work with the entire community,” stated Melton. “With about 135 abstract-selected talks overall, the 2019 meeting will showcase more junior speakers than ever before.”
 
There is a particular focus on the involvement of younger researchers, from events like the Early Career Group Leader Luncheon, the Meet the Experts Luncheon and the Career Panel Luncheon, to the Junior Investigator Social Night, an event designed specifically for younger researchers to meet each other.
 
“I think for young people, [ISSCR] is probably where you’re going to meet a cohort that you’ll travel through your career trajectory with, and part of the fun of being a scientist is having these folks that you’re going through things with together, because it makes the journey more fun. I think it’s a great meeting for young people to come [to],” mentioned Dr. Charles Murray of the University of Washington in an ISSCR promotional video.
 
This year’s meeting also brings back the popular online-to-onsite Job Match, creating the opportunity to connect academic and industry employers with scientists looking for their next position. Candidates and employers will have the opportunity to communicate online before the annual meeting, and then meet in person at ISSCR 2019 in June.
 
Starting in May, attendees were able to visit the Job Match Directory to browse job match profiles for connections that are relevant to their interests. Employers can view details of potential candidates like CVs and poster information, and job seekers can view open position details. Attendees can communicate with their short-listed contacts, and make plans to meet in Los Angeles in June by selecting a location to meet from a variety of on-site meeting places, or by meeting at a job seeker’s poster.
 
“Stem cells are and will be a powerful tool for understanding human development and treating disease for the foreseeable future. At the Los Angeles meeting we hope to ignite inspiration, renew energy, and motivate collaborations. Join us with the more than 4,000 researchers from across the globe who will gather to explore the clinical applications and fundamental science of stem cells,” Melton concluded.
 

Notable speakers at ISSCR 2019
 
Featured Speakers
 
Keynote Address:
Dr. Shinya Yamanaka, M.D., Ph.D., Center for iPS Cell Research & Application, Kyoto University, Japan, and Gladstone Institutes
 
John McNeish Memorial Lecture:
Andrew Plump, M.D., Ph.D., Takeda Pharmaceutical Co.
 
Anne McLaren Memorial Lecture:
Allan Spradling, Ph.D., Carnegie Institution for Science
 
Ernest McCulloch Memorial Lecture:
Lorenz Studer, M.D., Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research
 
Presidential Symposium Speakers
 
Keynote Address:
John Gurdon, FRS, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
 
Paola Arlotta, Ph.D., Harvard University
 
Hans C. Clevers, M.D., PhD, Hubrecht Institute, Netherlands
 
Karl Koehler, Ph.D., Indiana University School of Medicine
 
Award Lectures
 
ISSCR Tobias Award Lecture:
Scott Armstrong, M.D., Ph.D., Dana Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, Harvard Medical School
 
ISSCR Award for Innovation:
John Dick, Ph.D., Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network, and University of Toronto, Canada
 
Dr. Susan Lim Award for Outstanding Young Investigator:
Barbara Treutlein, Ph.D., ETH Zurich, Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering, Switzerland
 

Plenary sessions and speakers
 
Pluripotency and Germ Cells
Anna-Katerina Hadjantonakis, Ph.D., Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research
Clodagh O’Shea, Ph.D., The Salk Institute
Austin G. Smith, Ph.D., FRS, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
 
Mechanisms and Applications of Mesodermal Tissues I
Golnaz Vahedi, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
Hannah Mikkola, M.D., Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles
Ryuichi Nishinakamura, M.D., Ph.D., Kumamoto University, Japan
Irving L. Weissman, M.D., Stanford University
 
Stem Cells and Regeneration of Endodermal Organs
Sangeeta N. Bhatia, M.D., Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Markus Grompe, M.D., Oregon Health & Science University
Nan Tang, Ph.D., National Institute of Biological Sciences, China
James M. Wells, Ph.D., Cincinnati Children’s Hospital
 
Mechanisms and Applications of Mesodermal Tissues II
Peter Carmeliet, M.D., Ph.D., VIB-KU Leuven Center for Cancer Biology, Belgium
Denis Duboule, Ph.D., Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale, Switzerland
Charles Murry, M.D., Ph.D., University of Washington
 
From Bench to Bedside: Surface Ectoderm and Endocrine Organs
Ting Chen, Ph.D., National Institute of Biological Sciences, Beijing, China
Hiromitsu Nakauchi, M.D., Ph.D., University of Tokyo, Japan
Anthony Oro, M.D., Ph.D., Stanford University
Felicia Pagliuca, Ph.D., Semma Therapeutics
 
Basics and Translation: Neural Ectoderm
Kristin K. Baldwin, Ph.D., Scripps Research Institute
Claude Desplan, Ph.D., New York University
Sally Temple, Ph.D., Neural Stem Cell Institute
 

Concurrent sessions and speakers
 
Developmental Principles for Stem Cells
Shaorong Gao, Ph.D., Tongji University, China
Olivier Pourquié, Ph.D., Harvard University/Brigham and Women’s Hospital
 
Engineering Tissues and Organs
Takanori Takebe, M.D., Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Medical Center; and Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Japan
Valerie Weaver, Ph.D., University of California, San Francisco
 
Epigenetic Regulation of Cell Identity
Wei Xie, Ph.D., Tsinghua University, China
Ibrahim Cissé, Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
 
Inflammation and Microbiome
Frederic Geissmann, M.D., Ph.D., Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Shruti Naik, Ph.D., New York University School of Medicine
 
Lineage Choice and Asymmetric Cell Division
Haifan Lin, Ph.D., Yale University School of Medicine
Yukiko Yamashita, Ph.D., University of Michigan
 
Mechanisms of Pluripotency and iPS cell Reprogramming
Sally Lowell, Ph.D., MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine, University of Edinburgh
Hitoshi Niwa, M.D., Ph.D., Kumamoto University, Japan
 
Mechanisms of Transdifferentiation
Thomas Graf, Ph.D., Center for Genomic Regulation, Barcelona, Spain
Jongpil Kim, Ph.D., Dongguk University, Korea
 
Molecular and Cellular Dynamics
Sebastian Jessberger, M.D., University of Zurich, Switzerland
Cristina Lo Celso, Ph.D., Imperial College London, United Kingdom
 
Non-mammalian Model Organisms for Stem Cell Biology
Jenna Galloway, Ph.D., Harvard Medical School & Massachusetts General Hospital
Jessica Whited, Ph.D., Harvard University
 
Organoid Models
Frederic de Sauvage, Ph.D., Genentech, Inc.
Emma Rawlins, Ph.D., Gurdon Institute, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
 
Road to the Clinic
Koji Eto, M.D., Ph.D., Center for IPS Cell Research and Application (CIRA), Kyoto University, Japan
Mark Humayun, M.D., Ph.D., Keck School of Medicine of University of Southern California
 
Stem Cell Aging
Salvador Aznar Benitah, Ph.D., Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona), Spain
Pura Muñoz-Cánoves, Ph.D., Pompeu Fabra University, ICREA and CNIC, Spain
 
Stem Cell Ethics
Alta Charo, J.D., University of Wisconsin
Marianne Hamilton Lopez, Ph.D., MPA, Duke University
Douglas Sipp, B.A., Riken Center for Developmental Biology, Japan
 
Stem Cell Heterogeneity
Kathrin Plath, Ph.D., David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles
Nikolaus Rajewsky, Ph.D., Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine, Germany
 
Stem Cell Metabolism
Joshua M. Brickman, Ph.D., University of Copenhagen, Denmark
Weiping Han, Ph.D., Singapore Bioimaging Consortium, Singapore
 
Stem Cell Niches
Paul S. Frenette, M.D., Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Kim B. Jensen, Ph.D., BRIC - Biotech Research & Innovation Centre, Denmark
 
Stem Cell-Based Disease Modeling
Sandra J. Engle, Ph.D., Biogen
Arnold R. Kriegstein, M.D., Ph.D., University of California, San Francisco
 
Stem Cells and Cancer
Eduard Batlle, Ph.D., Institute for Research in Biomedicine, IRB Barcelona, Spain
Dominique Bonnet, Ph.D., The Francis Crick Institute, United Kingdom
 
Tissue Regeneration and Homeostasis
Fabio Rossi, M.D., Ph.D., University of British Columbia, Canada
Michal Shoshkes Carmel, Ph.D., Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
 
Tools to Interrogate Stem Cells
Long Cai, Ph.D., California Institute of Technology
Melike Lakadamyali, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine
 

Focus sessions
 
Clinical Development and Commercialization of iPSC-Based Therapies
Presented by Allele Biotech
 
Stem Cell Engineering for Therapeutic Applications
Presented by the Beckman Research Institute, City of Hope
 
Tools For Basic And Applied Research
Presented by the COREdinate Group (Sponsored by Thermo Fisher and Stem Cell Technologies)
 
From Fundamental to Therapeutic Applications of Pluripotent Stem Cells
Presented by the French and Belgian Societies for Stem Cell Research
 
Cutting Edge Regenerative Medicine Using Stem Cells
Presented by the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED)
 
New Insights Into Early Human Development: Scientific, Policy And Ethical Considerations
Presented by the ISSCR Ethics Committee
 
From Innovation to Product: Developing an Investigational New Drug (IND) Application
Presented by the ISSCR Industry Committee
 

Networking opportunities
 
Poster Sessions
Poster sessions take place during nightly receptions in the Exhibit Hall. Attendees can have a drink and a bite to eat while they learn about the latest research across the breadth of topics in stem cell science from around the globe, as well as meet new collaborators and discover opportunities to collaborate and present research.
 
Exhibit Hall
The hub of the meeting is the Exhibit hall, where attendees can engage directly with more than 100 companies showcasing the latest research tools, technologies, publications, and more. The Exhibit hall also hosts the nightly Poster sessions and receptions, and provides opportunities to relax and recharge in ISSCR Central. The exhibit area is divided into pavilions to make it easier to locate companies of interest: Technology & Suppliers, Therapeutics & Commercialization, Academic and Start Up Row. New for 2019, each pavilion will also have an Activity Zone that hosts engaging events, networking opportunities and more. Attendees will also find the Job Match Lounge and Meet-Up hubs in the Exhibit hall.
 
Meet-up Hubs
Meet and interact with attendees who share a common interest during an attendee-driven Meet-up Hub. These are casual, scheduled meeting times for attendees with a shared interest to meet together at a designated location in the Exhibition and Poster hall.
 
Early Career Group Leader Luncheon
Early-career group leaders (principal investigators or junior faculty for 8 or fewer years) are invited to participate in round-table discussions with the accomplished stem cell scientists who comprise the ISSCR Board of Directors in a casual lunch setting. The topic, “It’s About Time! Managing Priorities in Research and Mentoring,” covers strategies and experiences on time management to maximize mentorship, research and well-being.
 
Meet the Experts Luncheon
Junior Investigators are invited to meet with leaders over lunch to discuss research techniques and topics, career paths and more. These relaxed networking luncheons allow ISSCR trainee members to actively discuss topics of common interest with peers and leaders in our community.
 
Women in Science Luncheon - New This Year!
Communicating about science with both peers and non-scientists can pose unique challenges for women scientists, who are often outnumbered by their male counterparts, and who can be overlooked or under-heard. The topic is “A Seat at the Table: Women at the Leading Edge of Science.” This panel of successful female leaders will share their experiences as deans of medical schools, research professors and advocates of women, and discuss the unique communications challenges that women face in male-dominated fields. Each table at the luncheon will be led by a female ISSCR leader who will help facilitate the discussion.
 
Career Panel Luncheon
Junior Investigators are invited to join the ISSCR Junior Investigators Committee and a panel of experts for an in-depth discussion in a casual lunch setting. The topic will be “Embracing Change: Recipes for a Successful Scientific Career Path.”
 
Junior Investigator Social Night
Start the ISSCR 2019 experience by meeting, mingling, dancing and socializing with fellow young investigators from around the world during the meeting’s first night
 

ISSCR annual meeting by the numbers
4,000+ attendees
35 scientific sessions
1,600 posters
33 hours of scientific programming
200+ speakers
20+ hours of networking
100+ exhibiting companies
 

Stem cell news:
International Stem Cell Corp. completes enrollment and dosing in PD trial
 
CARLSBAD, Calif.—Late April saw International Stem Cell Corp., a California-based clinical-stage biotechnology company developing stem cell-based therapies and biomedical products, announce the completion of subject enrollment in its Phase 1 clinical trial of ISC-hpNSC for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease (PD).
 
The fourth subject of the third cohort, who was the twelfth and final subject of the phase 1 clinical study, was successfully transplanted with the highest dose of ISC-hpNSC cells. This clinical trial, which involved 12 patients with PD, was conducted in collaboration with investigators from Royal Melbourne Hospital, a leading medical institution with an international reputation for excellence.
 
“We are excited to announce the completion of enrollment of the world’s first approved human pluripotent stem cell-based clinical trial for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. This is a major milestone for the company and we expect to announce complete clinical results of this Phase 1 clinical trial in the first half of 2020,” commented ISCO’s co-chairman and CEO, Dr. Andrey Semechkin. “In addition, now that we have completed the most expensive stage of the Phase 1 clinical trial, ISCO will have more resources available to invest in growing and developing its commercial business, where we have recently made significant progress.”
 
The goal of this study is to assess the safety and incidence of treatment-emergent adverse events after intracerebral transplantation of 30 million, 50 million, and 70 million ISC-hpNSC cells into the substantia nigra and striatum of patients with PD. Thus far, there have been no serious adverse events related to the transplanted ISC-hpNSC, which the company noted is a very significant achievement due to the invasive nature of the transplantation procedure.
 
Preliminary efficacy is also evaluated through secondary endpoints, although no definitive conclusions can be drawn due to the fact that this is a clinical study with no placebo control group. Secondary endpoints assess the change from baseline in different neurological scales such as Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale, Parkinson’s Disease Quality of Life Questionnair-39, and Patient motor diary. After transplantation, patients are evaluated for 12 months (active phase of the study) with an additional 5-year observational follow-up period to assess the safety of ISC-hpNSC. Eight patients have already completed the 12-month study and entered the follow-up phase.
 
Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system mainly affecting the motor system. The motor symptoms of PD result from the death of dopamine-generating cells in the substantia nigra, a region of the midbrain. Early in the course of the disease, the most obvious symptoms are movement-related. These symptoms include shaking, rigidity, slowness of movement and difficulty with walking and gait. Later, thinking and behavioral problems may arise, with dementia commonly occurring in the advanced stages of the disease. Depression is the most common psychiatric symptom. Parkinson’s disease is more common in people over the age of 50.
 
There are no approved treatments that restore the damaged dopaminergic neurons. Medications typically used in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, levodopa and dopamine agonists, improve the early symptoms of the disease. As the disease progresses and dopaminergic neurons continue to be lost, the drugs eventually become ineffective, while at the same time frequently producing a complication marked by involuntary writhing movements.
 
International Stem Cell’s proprietary ISC-hpNSC consists of a highly pure population of neural stem cells derived from human parthenogenetic stem cells. ISC-hpNSC is a suspension of clinical-grade cells manufactured under cGMP conditions that have undergone stringent quality control measures and are free of any microbial and viral contaminants. Preclinical studies in rodents and non-human primates have shown improvement in PD symptoms and increase in brain dopamine levels following the intracranial administration of ISC-hpNSC.
 

Stem cell news:
ReNeuron partners with Fosun Pharma in China
 
LONDON—ReNeuron Group plc, a U.K.-based global player in the development of cell-based therapeutics, announced in April that it has signed an exclusive licence agreement with Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Industrial Development Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical (Group) Co., Ltd. (Fosun Pharma), for the development, manufacture and commercialization of ReNeuron’s CTX and hRPC cell therapy programs in China.
 
Fosun Pharma is a leading healthcare group in China with extensive healthcare business interests worldwide. It is listed on both the Shanghai Stock Exchange and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
 
Under the terms of the Agreement, Fosun Pharma will fully fund the development of ReNeuron’s CTX and hRPC cell therapy programs in China, including clinical development and subsequent commercialisation activities. Fosun Pharma has also been granted rights to manufacture the licensed products in China.
 
ReNeuron will receive £6.0 million (about $7.9 million) on entering into the agreement, up to £6.0 million (about $7.9 million) in near-term operational milestones and up to £8.0 million (about $10.5 million) in future regulatory milestone payments. In addition, post-launch profit threshold milestone payments are due at a rate of 5 percent of annual net profits derived from the licensed products in the year the relevant net profit milestones are exceeded, leading to total estimated milestone payments of £80.0 million (approximately $104.8 million) provided all milestones and profit thresholds are successfully met.
 
ReNeuron will also receive tiered royalties at rates between 12 percent and 14 percent on sales of the licensed products in the Chinese market. The company will be responsible for supplying CTX and hRPC cells to Fosun until technical transfer activities have been completed.
 
“We are very honored to collaborate with ReNeuron, one of the leading cell-based therapeutics companies worldwide at clinical stage,” said Yifang Wu, president and CEO of Fosun Pharma. “The licensed products and unique stem cell platforms will bring a lot of strategic synergies with our current business, addressing huge unmet needs in the Chinese market. Regenerative medicine is one of the most advanced areas with various cutting-edge technologies. The collaboration with ReNeuron will contribute to the strategic leading position of Fosun Pharma in this area in China, and also help us to enrich the pipelines for severe disease medical solutions.”
 
Added Olav Hellebø, CEO of ReNeuron: “We are delighted to partner our cell therapy programs with Fosun Pharma, one of China’s largest and most distinguished healthcare companies. This agreement furthers our core strategy to build shareholder value through the clinical development and commercialization of our cell therapy programs. China represents a significant market opportunity for our products and we look forward to working with Fosun Pharma to ultimately bring these treatments to the many patients in China who may benefit from them.”
 

Stem cell news:
Trial shows promise of stem cells in offering relief for arthritic knees
 
DURHAM, N.C.—Stem cells collected from the patient’s own bone marrow holds great interest as a potential therapy for osteoarthritis of the knee (KOA) because of their ability to regenerate the damaged cartilage, according to research published recently in a paper for the journal STEM CELLS Translational Medicine.
 
KOA is a common, debilitating disease of the aging population in which the cartilage wears away, resulting in bone wearing upon bone and subsequently causing great pain. In its end stages, joint replacement is currently the recommended treatment. In the first clinical trial of its kind to take place in Canada, researchers used mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs), collected from the patient’s own bone marrow under local anesthesia, to treat KOA.
 
The study was conducted by a research team from the Arthritis Program at the Krembil Research Institute, University Health Network, Toronto, led by Dr. Sowmya Viswanathan and Dr. Jaskarndip Chahal.
 
“Our goal was to test for safety as well as to gain a better understanding of MSC dosing, mechanisms of action and donor selection,” Viswanathan said.
 
The study involved 12 patients, aged 45 to 65, with moderate to severe KOA. They were divided into three groups, with each group receiving a different dose of MSCs. (Each patient was injected with his or her own cells.) The researchers then followed the patients for the next 12 months, using analytical methods that included imaging, biomarkers, molecular fingerprinting and the patient’s own assessment of how he or she felt.
 
At the end of the 12-month period, the team noted significant improvements in the patients’ pain levels and quality of life. The study also showed that the MSCs were safe at all the doses tested and that the higher the dose, the more effective the outcome.
 
Said Viswanathan: “We also obtained novel insights into a potential anti-inflammatory mechanism of action of these cells in osteoarthritic knee joints. We noted that donor heterogeneity is an important factor, and our assembled panel of genes helps us identify cells which are potent in osteoarthritis. These are important findings which we hope to translate into a larger, powered clinical trial as part of our next steps.”
 
“Furthermore,” added Chahal, “we have been able to show that through an anti-inflammatory mechanism of action, such patients have an improvement in pain, function and quality of life. This sets the stage for the future of cell-based therapy and trials in Canada.”
 
The full article, “Bone Marrow Mesenchymal Stromal Cells in Patients with Osteoarthritis Results in Overall Improvement in Pain and Symptoms and Reduces Synovial Inflammation,” can be accessed at https://stemcellsjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/sctm.18-0183.
 

Stem cell news:
Resinco funds stem cell project at Oxford University
 
VANCOUVER, British Columbia—Resinco Capital Partners Inc., a global investment company that specializes in providing early-stage financing to private and public companies, recently announced funding for a project at the University of Oxford in the laboratory of Prof. Jagdeep Nanchahal.
 
Through the Company’s wholly owned subsidiary ReFormation Pharmaceuticals Corp. and in partnership with 180 Therapeutics LP, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of novel biologic therapies for the treatment of fibrosis, the project will focus on a novel approach to promote tissue repair and regeneration by targeting the body’s own stem cells and enhancing their effectiveness.
 
“We have identified a molecule (HMGB1) that primes the body’s own stem cells to accelerate repair and regeneration following injury. This funding will provide the necessary tools needed to research the many challenges associated with growing stem cells outside the body and injecting them back. The work will focus on regeneration of broken bones and injured muscles, as well as several new indications,” said Nanchahal, co-founder of ReFormation Pharmaceuticals.
 
“This research agreement will help facilitate unmet clinical needs to develop the disruptive technology that will deliver a first in class therapeutic,” added Alex Somjen, president and CEO of Resinco. “ReFormation’s research pipeline will deliver further IP where no comparative treatment exists.”
 
ReFormation will be funding up to $1.2 million into a 12-month project with goals to patent new molecules that promote repair and will receive a right of first negotiation for the project assets.
 

Stem cell news:
Adult stem cell-derived kidney-on-a-chip showcased
 
LEIDEN, the Netherlands—Scientists from the Hubrecht Institute, the University of Utrecht and MIMETAS have successfully grown kidney tubules derived from human kidney adult stem cells in microfluidic chips. This research has been published in Nature Biotechnology by a research group led by Prof.Hans Clevers.
 
“Scientists at the Hubrecht Institute managed to reprogram stem cells found in the human kidney cortex to cells that are similar to tubular cells of the kidney. From these cells, my team has grown three-dimensional perfused kidney tubules,” explained Dr. Henriette Lanz, director of biology at MIMETAS and co-author of the paper. “We have discovered that these tubules are fully polarized, meaning that they distinguish inside from outside, just like in a real kidney. Moreover, the biologically important barrier function of the kidney tubes is intact. We show that transporter activity is functional, which is a hallmark of kidney tissue, responsible for pumping of nutrients and toxicants across the kidney barrier.

“We can grow 40 of such tubules in one single OrganoPlate. The kidney tubes can be used to create disease models that allow the development of novel therapies. This novel technology offers a powerful human alternative to animal testing for toxic side effects of new medicines.”
 
A mini kidney from the lab doesn’t look like a normal kidney, but the simple cell structures share many of the characteristics of real kidneys, and researchers can use them to study certain kidney diseases.
 
“We can use these mini kidneys to model various disorders: hereditary kidney diseases, infections, and cancer. This allows us to study in detail what exactly is going wrong,” said  Clevers, a professor of molecular genetics at Utrecht University and the University Medical Center Utrecht, and group leader at the Hubrecht Institute. “This helps us to understand the workings of healthy kidneys better, and hopefully, in the future, we will be able to develop treatments for kidney disorders.”
 
Code: E051936

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