Archive for the ‘Stell Cell Research’ Category

Stem Cell Factor Tied to Reduced Risk of Cardiac Events, Death – Anti Aging News

Stell Cell Research | Posted by admin
Sep 08 2017

407 0 Posted on Sep 07, 2017, 9 a.m.

High levels of stem cell factor (SCF) are associated with reduced risk of mortality and cardiovascular events, according to a study published online Aug. 26 in theJournal of Internal Medicine.

(HealthDay News) -- High levels of stem cell factor (SCF) are associated with reduced risk of mortality and cardiovascular events, according to a study published online Aug. 26 in theJournal of Internal Medicine.

Harry Bjrkbacka, Ph.D., from Lund University in Sweden, and colleagues examined the correlation between circulating levels of SCF and risk for development of cardiovascular events and death. SCF was analyzed from plasma from 4,742 participants in the Malm Diet and Cancer Study; participants were followed for a mean of 19.2 years.

The researchers found that participants with high baseline levels of SCF had lower cardiovascular and all-cause mortality and reduced risk of heart failure, stroke, and myocardial infarction. There was a correlation for smoking, diabetes, and high alcohol consumption with lower levels of SCF. After adjustment for traditional cardiovascular risk factors, the highest versus the lowest SCF quartile remained independently associated with lower risk of cardiovascular (hazard ratio, 0.59; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.43 to 0.81) and all-cause mortality (hazard ratio, 0.68; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.57 to 0.81) and with lower risk of heart failure (hazard ratio, 0.5; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.31 to 0.8) and stroke (hazard ratio, 0.66; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.47 to 0.92) but not myocardial infarction (hazard ratio, 0.96; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.72 to 1.27).

"The findings provide clinical support for a protective role of SCF in maintaining cardiovascular integrity," the authors write.

The possibilities that stem cell therapies present in the prevention, regeneration, and treatment of many health conditions seem to be still untouched. If course, stem cell research is still ongoing and no one is complete stem cell expert yet, but maybe thats a good approach to take. I am not so sure I would be comfortable in this modern area of easily accessible information with a physician that still doesnt consider his or her self a student. Whether your doctor is 65 or 38 I hope they are still open to learning, stated Dr. Ronald Klatz, President of the A4M.

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Stem Cell Factor Tied to Reduced Risk of Cardiac Events, Death - Anti Aging News

Transformative technology: Encapsulated human cells to … – Medical Xpress

Stell Cell Research | Posted by admin
Sep 08 2017

September 7, 2017 Professor Che Connon and Dr Stephen Swioklo of Atelerix, a spin-out from Newcastle University, is offering the transformative hydrogel technology for the storage and transport of viable cells including stem cells and cell-based assays at ambient temperatures. Credit: Newcastle University

Atelerix, a spin-out from Newcastle University, UK is offering the transformative hydrogel technology for the storage and transport of viable cells including stem cells and cell-based assays at ambient temperatures. This overcomes the barriers presented by the current need for cryo-shipping as it is simple, cell-friendly and offers immediate access to stem cell therapy.

This opens up the market for the supply of cells and assays in a ready-to-use format, allowing suppliers to increase the range of assays available to consumers and to scale up their businesses.

The breakthrough, patented invention, provides dramatic improvements to an everyday process in a rapidly growing market.

Scientific founder, Professor Che Connon of Newcastle University, has been working on the underpinning technology for five years. He said: "Encapsulating cells in the alginate hydrogel is a simple, low cost system capable of preserving the viability and functionality of cells at temperatures between 4 and 21C for extended periods of time.

"Used as a method of cell storage and transport, it overcomes the acknowledged problems associated with cryo-shipping. Cells are encapsulated by in situ formation of the gel for shipping in plates or vials, and can be rapidly released from the gel by the addition of a simple buffer."

Atelerix is set to revolutionise the market with their use of encapsulated stem cells as Dr Mick McLean, CEO for Atelerix explained: "Understanding both the technology and its commercial potential is essential for the translation of great science into an exciting business opportunity.

"Putting these elements in place by working together with the expert scientific team means that Atelerix has a clear value proposition - we enable the transport and storage of human cells at room temperature."

The hydrogel technology allows immediate access to cells and can be used in a range of applications where high quality cells are essential.


The shipping of cells from one location to another for clinical and research use is a widespread and everyday practice, and consequently there are many potential commercial outlets for the hydrogel encapsulation technology.

Atelerix, the commercial spin-out from Newcastle University is targeting three key areas:

First Northern Accelerator spin-out company

Atelerix, is the first spin out company created under a new joint collaborative project between Newcastle and Durham Universities, UK.

The Northern Accelerator project, which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), is creating high technology spin-out companies by attracting talented business leaders to the innovative commercial opportunities both created and developed in the north east of England.

Through this, experienced life sciences business leader Mick McLean was brought in to work alongside the founder academics, Professor Che Connon and Dr Stephen Swioklo.

Dr McLean said: "Working alongside the University team on the strategy for the Intellectual Property and the corporate framework has really helped give the business a base from which to expand as it starts to move on from its academic roots."

David Huntley, Head of Company Creation at Newcastle University and overall Project Manager, said: "Atelerix is an excellent example of the clear benefits of the Northern Accelerator programme. By combining Mick's business skills with the technical excellence of the scientific team's world-leading background research, we have created a brand new technology business that we believe will make a real and significant commercial impact."

Explore further: Seaweed offers the solution to transporting stem cells and wound treatment

More information: Previous research: Stephen Swioklo et al. Alginate-Encapsulation for the Improved Hypothermic Preservation of Human Adipose-Derived Stem Cells, STEM CELLS Translational Medicine (2016). DOI: 10.5966/sctm.2015-0131

A new review is the first to directly examine the role of various stem cells in the healing of wounded cornea, the outermost part of the eye. In contrast with most other reviews, it covers all major corneal cell types in ...

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Transformative technology: Encapsulated human cells to ... - Medical Xpress

Italian scientists welcome surprise 400 million boost for basic research – Science Magazine

Stell Cell Research | Posted by admin
Sep 08 2017

Italian Minister for Education, University, and Research Valeria Fedeli

AP Photo/Luca Bruno

By Marta PaterliniSep. 7, 2017 , 4:50 PM

Plagued by budget cuts and attacks on science, Italian scientists have had little to cheer about recently. But on Sunday, they received a welcome surprise when Valeria Fedeli, the minister for education, university, and research, announced that Italy will put an extra 400 million into its main basic science fund, the Research Projects of National Interest (PRIN). The money, to be spent over 3 years, will more than quadruple PRINs annual funding.

The biggest part of the increase, 250 million, will come out of unused reserves at the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT), a government-funded private foundation in Genoa that has recently come under criticism.

This is the largest investment in competitive funds for basic research of the last 20 years, says Elena Cattaneo, a stem cell biologist at the University of Milan and a senator for life in the Italian Parliament who had lobbied for the shift to basic science. PRIN funding has been going up and down since 2002, according to a group of academics calling itselfReturn On Academic ReSearch (ROARS), but overall has been modest. The latest funding round, in 2015, provided only 95 million for 3years.

Cattaneo had argued that IIT, founded in 2003 to foster innovation, could easily cough up the funds for a hike at PRIN. Scientists have criticized IIT for a lack of transparency in the way it allocates its fundingcurrently some 98 million annually from the Ministry of Economy and Financeand for its role in the creation of a new research hub at the site of the World Expo 2015 in Milan. Cattaneo has also been very vocal about the accumulation of hundreds of millions in public money in a private body.By reallocating the funds, the government has acknowledged the value of basic research, she says.

IITs scientific director, Roberto Cingolani, says the institutes large surplus is primarily the result of savings during its early years. Three years ago, we started to plan an expansion of the institute in Genoa, that would have cost about 200 million, he saysa plan that is now off the table. Cingolani says he is disappointed by the criticisms of IIT, but glad that the cut there will benefit basic research.

ROARS member Alberto Baccini, a professor of political economics at the University of Siena, applauds the decision as well and credits Cattaneo. We must acknowledge [her] crusade, he says.

A spokesperson for the research ministry could not provide details today about how the money will be spent. Its important that the process uses uniform assessment criteria and is transparent, Baccini says. (He notes that its impossible to find the projects awarded under the 2015 funding bolus for PRIN online.) The problem is not just the lack of money, but also that funding is handed out without a method, really, he says.

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Italian scientists welcome surprise 400 million boost for basic research - Science Magazine

Curved substrates restrict spreading and induce differentiation of stem cells – Phys.Org

Stell Cell Research | Posted by admin
Sep 06 2017

September 6, 2017 by Adam Lowenstein, Florida Institute Of Technology Credit: Biotechnology Journal

An invention by Florida Institute of Technology's Shengyuan Yang was found to naturally narrow the spreading of stem cells and has the potential to induce and regulate their differentiation.

Using Yang's patented and patent-pending technology, stem cells were grown on microscopic glass balls immobilized in a gel medium. Unlike the well-spread stem cells grown on a two-dimensional surface, the stem cells on the glass balls were almost uniformly spindle-shaped . More interestingly, this surface-curvature-induced-restriction in cell spreading also induced the differentiation of the stem cells.

These findings imply that the curvature of a substrate, as provided by the glass balls, may be utilized and tuned for cell and tissue engineering.

The research was recently published in Biotechnology Journal.

Yang's team used glass balls with diameters ranging from 5 m to 4 mm. They found that the minimum diameter of a glass ball on which a human mesenchymal stem cell (hMSC) can attach and spread is 500 m. Their gene expression experiments revealed that the hMSCs growing on the glass balls with diameters of 1.1 mm and below were differentiating into fat cells without the addition of any differentiation induction media.

This means that surface curvatures of a substrate could potentially be designed and optimized to achieve or change a specific cell shape and function. And, due to the different sensitivities of different cell types to substrate curvatures, the particular curvature of a growth environment, such as glass balls of various sizes, may also be used to construct cell-sorting devices.

Based on the experimental findings, Yang has filed three patents to cover the applications of the concept of substrate curvature in sorting cells, in guiding stem cell differentiation, in directing cell attachment and spreading, and in inducing isotropic spreading of cells.

Some past studies have shown the role of geometrical cues in influencing the differentiations of stem cells on two-dimensional surfaces, but to date, the effects of substrates with defined-curvatures on the behaviors of stem cells are still missing. Yang said studies on the cellular responses to substrate curvature are necessary and critical for understanding the cellular behaviors in three-dimensional micromechanical environments and for designing effective and efficient three-dimensional micromechanical environments to control cell and tissue developments. With their unique class of curvature-defined substrates, micro glass ball embedded gels are able to systematically investigate the effects of substrate curvature on the behaviors of stem cells.

With this promising first published report, Yang's group will continue to systematically investigate the effects of substrate curvature on the behaviors of stem cells.

Explore further: Professor publishes on first-ever imaging of cells growing on spherical surfaces

More information: Sang Joo Lee et al, Substrate Curvature Restricts Spreading and Induces Differentiation of Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells, Biotechnology Journal (2017). DOI: 10.1002/biot.201700360

Shengyuan Yang, Florida Institute of Technology assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, with graduate student Sang Joo Lee, has published a paper on the first-ever imaging of cells growing on spherical ...

Bone tissue engineering is theoretically now possible at a large scale. A*STAR researchers have developed small biodegradable and biocompatible supports that aid stem cell differentiation and multiplication as well as bone ...

( A team of researchers working at the University of Colorado has found that human stem cells appear to remember the physical nature of the structure they were grown on, after being moved to a different substrate. ...

To date, it has been assumed that the differentiation of stem cells depends on the environment they are embedded in. A research group at the University of Basel now describes for the first time a mechanism by which hippocampal ...

Stem cells hold great promise for transforming medical care related to a diverse range of conditions, but the cells often lose some of their therapeutic potential when scientists try to grow and expand them in the laboratory. ...

An international team of researchers, funded by Morris Animal Foundation, has shown that adipose (fat) stem cells might be the preferred stem cell type for use in canine therapeutic applications, including orthopedic diseases ...

Significant headway has been made in controlling malaria. However, two vexing problems remain: currently available treatments are unable to block transmission of the parasite that causes the disease, and the parasite often ...

During World War II, the Soviet Red Army was forced to move their biological warfare operations out of the path of advancing Nazi troops. Among the dangerous cargo were vials of Francisella tularensis, the organism that causes ...

Researchers have shown for the first time that sharks show very strong preferences for particular individuals in their social networks over years and prefer to hang out with other individuals of the same sex and size, in ...

Half of all people are chronically infected with Helicobacter pylori, a Gram negative bacterium that plays a causative role in the development of gastric cancer. It comes in two types, one that is relatively harmless and ...

A series of sperm whale strandings saw 29 of the animals beached across the North Sea in early 2016. As these whales are not normally found in the North Sea, the strandings were a bit of a mystery. But a study is now proposing ...

Researchers from Human Longevity, Inc. (HLI) have published a study in which individual faces and other physical traits were predicted using whole genome sequencing data and machine learning. This work, from lead author Christoph ...

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This New, Cutting-Edge Treatment Could Be the End of Baldness – Reader’s Digest

Stell Cell Research | Posted by admin
Sep 06 2017

docent/ShutterstockWhether or not theres a scientific benefit to being baldwell let the follically challenged among us be the judge of thatscientists continue to search for a balding cure. According to UCLA researchers, that isnt completely out of the question. A team, led by Heather Christofk, PhD, and William Lowry, PhD, found a new way to activate the stem cells in the hair follicle to make hair grow. Their findings, published in the journal Nature Cell Biology, may lead to new drugs to promote hair growth or work as a cure for baldness or alopecia (hair loss linked to factors like hormonal imbalance, stress, aging or chemotherapy).

Working at the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA, the researchers discovered that the metabolism of the stem cells embedded in hair follicles is different from the metabolism of other cells of the skin. When they altered that metabolic pathway in mice, they discovered they could either stop hair growth, or make hair grow rapidly. They did this by first blocking, then increasing, the production of a metabolitelactategenetically.

Before this, no one knew that increasing or decreasing the lactate would have an effect on hair follicle stem cells, says Dr. Lowry, a professor of molecular, cell and developmental biology, as reported on ScienceDaily. Once we saw how altering lactate production in the mice influenced hair growth, it led us to look for potential drugs that could be applied to the skin and have the same effect.

Two drugs in particularknown by the generic designations of RCGD423 and UK5099influenced hair follicle stem cells in distinct ways to promote lactate production. The use of both drugs to promote hair growth are covered by provisional patent applications. However, they are experimental drugs and have been used in preclinical tests only. They wont be ready for prime time until theyve been tested in humans and approved by the Food and Drug Administration as safe and effective. (While youre waiting for a male pattern baldness cure, check out these natural remedies for hair loss.)

So while it may be some time before these drugs are availableif everto treat baldless or alopecia, researchers are optimistic about the future. Through this study, we gained a lot of interesting insight into new ways to activate stem cells, says Aimee Flores, a predoctoral trainee in Lowrys lab and first author of the study. The idea of using drugs to stimulate hair growth through hair follicle stem cells is very promising given how many millions of people, both men and women, deal with hair loss. I think weve only just begun to understand the critical role metabolism plays in hair growth and stem cells in general; Im looking forward to the potential application of these new findings for hair loss and beyond.

This 7-year-old girl living with alopecia will inspire you.

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This New, Cutting-Edge Treatment Could Be the End of Baldness - Reader's Digest

Zika Virus Could One Day Help Treat A Deadly Form Of Brain Cancer – HuffPost

Stell Cell Research | Posted by admin
Sep 06 2017

Glioblastoma, the aggressive and hard to treat brain cancer that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) announced he was diagnosed with in July, is the target of new research using a surprising treatment:Zika virus.

About 12,000 people are diagnosed with glioblastomas each year in the United States. Current treatment focuses on surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.

But now, researchers think Zika virus which threatens the health of a fetus and can cause severe birth defects could be an appropriate treatment for glioblastoma because they see similar pathways in the way brain tumor cells and healthy stem cells in fetuses grow and divide.

Because Zika targets fetus stem cells, researchers hypothesized that it might also be able to target glioblastoma cells,according to findings published on Sept. 5 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

The abundance of neuroprogenitor stem cells in a human fetus partly explains why Zika virus can be so damaging to a fetal brain, while adults, who dont have many neuroprogenitor cells, typically only experience mild symptoms like fever and joint pain when theyre exposed to Zika.

We have guarded optimism about this treatment, said Dr. Michael Diamond, study author and professor of medicine, molecular microbiology, pathology and immunology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

To test their theory, researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine and the University of California San Diego School of Medicine injected either Zika virus or a saltwater placebo into the brain tumors of mice. After two weeks, the mice that were given the Zika injection had smaller tumors than those given the placebo.

The researchers also experimented with injecting a mutated form of Zika virus into mice, and found that the weaker mutant version still replicated and killed tumor stem cells. The weaker mutant virus should also be easier for the bodys healthy cells to defeat.

Despite the promising research findings, testing in humans, much less availability as a cancer treatment, remains a long way off. If all goes well, the researchers hope to begin human trials in 18 months.

We envision tests in humans, and eventually adding this to existing conventional therapy (surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy) to kill the otherwise resistant stem cell component of the tumor, Diamond said.

But we need to further test safety and we need to first prove this works in human glioblastomas when transplanted into mice.

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Zika Virus Could One Day Help Treat A Deadly Form Of Brain Cancer - HuffPost

UCSD Researchers Win $18 Million Grant to Fund B-Cell Cancers Clinical Trial – Times of San Diego

Stell Cell Research | Posted by admin
Sep 05 2017

Share This Article: Scanning electron micrograph of B lymphocyte. Image courtesy of National Cancer Institute.

The UC San Diego School of Medicine is receiving an $18.29 million grant to fund a clinical trial of a combination drug therapy to fight B-cell cancers, the university has announced.

The grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine was approved Aug. 24.

The new combined drug trial, intended to study both safety and efficacy, is headed by Thomas Kipps, MD, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Medicine and deputy director of research at UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center, in collaboration with colleagues at the UC San Diego CIRM Alpha Stem Cell Clinic the cell therapy arm of the Sanford Stem Cell Clinical Center at UC San Diego Health.

The clincal trial combines an experimental antibody-based drug called cirmtuzumab with ibrutinib. Marketed as Imbruvica, ibrutinib is already approved to treat B-cell cancers, like chronic lymphocytic leukemia and mantle cell lymphoma. Cirmtuzumab is currently in clinical trials for the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

We are very excited about evaluating this combination of targeted therapies in the clinic, Kipps said. Although ibrutinib has been approved for treatment of patients with CLL or MCL, it is exceptionally rare for this drug by itself to get rid of all the leukemia cells or cause long-lasting remissions without continuous therapy.

As a result, patients are recommended to take ibrutinib indefinitely until they develop intolerance or resistance to this drug, Kipps continued. By blocking a survival/growth-stimulating pathway that provides a lifeline to the leukemia cells of patients taking ibrutinib, cirmtuzumab can work together with ibrutinib to potentially kill all the leukemia cells, allowing patients to achieve a complete remission and stop therapy altogether.

Kipps noted, too, that cirmtuzumab targets cancer stem cells, which behave somewhat like the roots of the disease, resisting many forms of treatment and allowing a malignancy to grow back after apparently successful therapy. By targeting cancer stem cells, Kipps said cirmtuzumab may improve our capacity to achieve more complete and longer lasting remissions when used in combination with targeted drugs, such as ibrutinib, or other anti-cancer drugs for the treatment of patients with many different types of cancer.

The California Institute for Regenerative Medicinewas created in 2004 by California voters with $3 billion in funding support to accelerate stem cell research and treatments. Since 2004, UC San Diego researchers have received at least 96 CIRM awards, totaling more than $182 million.


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UNMC research traces glaucoma, often associated with aging, to earliest days of development – Omaha World-Herald

Stell Cell Research | Posted by admin
Sep 03 2017

Glaucoma is known as a disease of aging, the kind that creeps up on people and slowly robs them of vision. But a researcher at the University of Nebraska Medical Center has traced the roots of a common form of the eye disease to a much earlier time, literally the earliest days of human growth and development.

The discovery, published recently in the journal Stem Cells, may offer opportunities for earlier diagnosis of the disease as well as new treatment options.

Iqbal Ahmad, a professor in the ophthalmology and visual sciences department at UNMC, said there are several forms of glaucoma, which ranks as the second-leading cause of blindness and affects approximately 3 million people in the United States and some 60 million worldwide.

All forms, said Ahmad, who led the team of researchers, have one thing in common: Cells inside the eye known as retinal ganglion cells, which extend from the retina and give rise to the optic nerve, begin to degenerate. The optic nerve carries visual messages from the eye to the brain.

The condition typically comes on with little notice and few symptoms, creeping up so slowly that patients often dont notice until their optic nerve is compromised and, with it, their vision. The loss begins on the periphery. Many unconsciously compensate by turning their heads.

Thats why they call it the silent robber of vision, Ahmad said.

High pressure inside the eye is a risk factor for glaucoma, he said. But in some cases, patients with normal eye pressures suffer optic nerve degeneration. Such cases were one of the factors that led Ahmad and his team to look to the early days of development.

Ahmad said the team hypothesized that the retinal ganglion cells, which form during gestation, were somehow vulnerable or even flawed from the start in those who develop glaucoma.

To study them, however, they had to go back to those early stages of development. So the researchers took blood from adults with primary open angle glaucoma, which affects 90 percent of glaucoma patients, and reprogrammed the blood cells back into an earlier state, known as induced pluripotent stem cells. Such cells, by definition, have the potential to differentiate into a number of different cell types, from bone to heart, with the right programming.

The team figured out how to make them differentiate into retinal ganglion cells in an unlimited supply they could use for research. Pooja Teotia, a post-doctoral scholar in Ahmads lab, played a crucial role in the work.

The stem cell model was based on a gene variation known to be associated with primary open angle glaucoma. About 40 percent of Caucasians have at least one copy, said Dr. Shane Havens, a glaucoma specialist at UNMCs Truhlsen Institute who is familiar with Ahmads work. More than 99 percent of people of African descent have it, which partially explains why African-Americans have higher rates of glaucoma.

Ahmad stressed that the process did not involve the use of embryonic stem cells. Research based on embryonic cell lines has been controversial because the original cells were derived from human embryos. The ethical dilemma we used to face has been circumvented, he said.

The researchers then compared the retinal ganglion cells derived from the glaucoma patients blood with those from a healthy adult who didnt have glaucoma. The glaucoma patient-derived cells differed in form, function and gene expression.

They even looked different, Ahmad said. The nerves that came out of the young retinal ganglion cells looked much weaker and smaller than the normal retinal ganglion cells. At the functional level, they were not behaving normally.

Ahmad said the team is excited about the next steps. Being able to study the abnormal cells in a dish is giving the researchers an amazing amount of information about what might have gone wrong at the molecular level as well as along the intricate signaling pathways in their development.

Both offer the potential for earlier diagnosis and for new treatments. Ideally they would be able to identify patients who might develop the disease decades down the road and treat them before degeneration occurs.

Havens said treatments for glaucoma currently involve lowering eye pressure with medication, lasers or surgery. But that often comes after people have lost a significant portion of the optic nerve.

About 2 percent of people in the United States have glaucoma, but about half of them dont know it.

This would allow us to start earlier in patients who are at risk, he said.

Ahmad said the researchers also are working to see whether they can correct abnormalities in the cells and to determine whether they would find their way and connect with the brain. If that works they may be able to transplant them into patients who already have the disease and reverse the degeneration.

Were seeing some encouraging signs, he said.

Havens said the work, particularly the stem cell technique involved, also has broader implications for the study and treatment of other diseases, such as Parkinsons disease, that involve the nervous system.

Its exciting work, for sure, he said., 402-444-1066


The only sure way to diagnose glaucoma, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, is with a complete eye exam. A glaucoma screening that checks only eye pressure is not enough to find glaucoma.

So when should someone have an eye exam? According to the group, adults with no signs or risk factors for eye disease should have a comprehensive medical eye evaluation at age 40, if they havent had one already. After age 40, the recommended interval is:

Age 40 to 55, every two to four years

Age 55 to 64, every one to three years

Age 65 and older, every one to two years

For those at higher risk of certain diseases, including African-Americans and Hispanics who are at higher risk for glaucoma, comprehensive eye exams should be considered:

Under age 40, every two to four years

Age 40 to 54, every one to three years

Age 55 to 64, every one to two years

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UNMC research traces glaucoma, often associated with aging, to earliest days of development - Omaha World-Herald

Landmark stem cell paper questioned – BioEdge

Stell Cell Research | Posted by admin
Sep 03 2017

Oh no! Not again! Such must be the sentiments of stem cell scientists after a paper to be published in Nature cast cold water on landmark research about editing the genome of a human embryo.

On August 2, a team led by Shoukhrat Mitalipov, of Oregon Health and Science University, announced in Nature that they had successfully deleted a disease-causing faulty gene and replaced it with a healthy copy using the CRISPR-Cas9 technique. Their innovative experiment introduced the CRISPR machinery earlier. When they examined the embryos, they found that they did not contain the faulty sequence.

This discovery was greeted around the world as a first step towards freeing mankind from genetic disorders or towards a eugenicist society, depending on your attitude towards modifying the human genome. Technically, it was a tour de force, as it was relatively easy and accurate and did not result in mosaic embryos.

With 10,000 harmful single-gene mutations known, there is a lot at stake.

However, a closer examination of the exciting paper has sparked a lot of debate amongst stem cell scientists. In a preprint release of a paper in Nature on bioRxiv, Dieter Egli, of Columbia University, and Maria Jasin, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, along with Harvard geneticist George Church, have questioned whether Mitalipovs team has actually succeeded, as the new technique contradicts the conventional wisdom about how fertilisation occurs. They point out that although the disease-causing gene had disappeared, there was no proof that the correct sequence had been inserted.

Furthermore, the DNA from the sperm and the egg are probably not close enough in the brief interval after fertilisation to interact or share genes. Mitalipov and his team had speculated that the embryos used the DNA of the egg as a guide to repair the mutation carried by the sperm.

In my view Egli et al. convincingly provided a series of compelling arguments explaining that the correction of the deleterious mutation by self repair is unlikely to have occurred, Gatan Burgio, a geneticist at the Australian National University told Nature News.

Mitalipov has responded, promising to answer the critiques point by point in the form of a formal peer-reviewed response in a matter of weeks.

Inevitably, this latest breakthrough recalls a string of too-good-to-be true-and too-amazing-to-reject articles about stem cell research. They were published in leading journals, hyped in the media and then crashed and burned. Time will tell whether Mitalipovs paper will be vindicated.

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Dr Con Man: the rise and fall of a celebrity scientist who fooled almost everyone – The Guardian

Stell Cell Research | Posted by admin
Sep 01 2017

Doctor Macchiarini fooled everyone, for a time. Photograph: TT News Agency/Press Association Images

Scientific pioneer, superstar surgeon, miracle worker thats how Paolo Macchiarini was known for several years. Dressed in a white lab coat or in surgical scrubs, with his broad, handsome face and easy charm, he certainly looked the part. And fooled almost everyone.

Macchiarini shot to prominence back in 2008, when he created a new airway for Claudia Castillo, a young woman from Barcelona. He did this by chemically stripping away the cells of a windpipe taken from a deceased donor; he then seeded the bare scaffold with stem cells taken from Castillos own bone marrow. Castillo was soon back home, chasing after her kids. According to Macchiarini and his colleagues, her artificial organ was well on the way to looking and functioning liked a natural one. And because it was built from Castillos own cells, she didnt need to be on any risky immunosuppressant drugs.

This was Macchiarinis first big success. Countless news stories declared it a medical breakthrough. A life-saver and a game-changer. We now know that wasnt true. However, the serious complications that Castillo suffered were, for a long time, kept very quiet.

Meanwhile, Macchiarinis career soared. By 2011, he was working in Sweden at one of the worlds most prestigious medical universities, the Karolinska Institute, whose professors annually select the winner of the Nobel prize in physiology or medicine. There he reinvented his technique. Instead of stripping the cells from donor windpipes, Macchiarini had plastic scaffolds made to order. The first person to receive one of these was Andemariam Beyene, an Eritrean doctoral student in geology at the University of Iceland. His recovery put Macchiarini on the front page of the New York Times.

Macchiarini was turning the dream of regenerative medicine into a reality. This is how NBCs Meredith Vieira put it in her documentary about Macchiarini, appropriately called A Leap of Faith: Just imagine a world where any injured or diseased organ or body part you have is simply replaced by a new artificial one, literally manmade in the lab, just for you. This marvelous world was now within reach, thanks to Macchiarini.

Last year, however, the dream soured, exposing an ugly reality.

Macchiarini gave his regenerating windpipes to 17 or more patients worldwide. Most, including Andemariam Beyene, are now dead. Those few patients who are still alive including Castillo have survived in spite of the artificial windpipes they received.

In January 2016, Macchiarini received an extraordinary double dose of bad press. The first was a Vanity Fair article about his affair with Benita Alexander, an award-winning producer for NBC News. She met Macchiarini while producing A Leap of Faith and was soon breaking one of the cardinal rules of journalism: dont fall in love with the subject of your story.

By the time the program aired, in mid-2014, the couple were planning their marriage. It would be a star-studded event. Macchiarini had often boasted to Alexander of his famous friends. Now they were on the wedding guest list: the Obamas, the Clintons, Vladimir Putin, Nicolas Sarkozy and other world leaders. Andrea Bocelli was to sing at the ceremony. None other than Pope Francis would officiate, and his papal palace in Castel Gandolfo would serve as the venue. Thats what Macchiarini told his fiancee.

But as the big day approached, Alexander saw these plans unravel, and finally realised that her lover had lied about almost everything. The pope, the palace, the world leaders, the famous tenor they were all fantasies.

Likewise the whole idea of a wedding: Macchiarini was still married to his wife of 30 years.

Macchiarinis deceit was so outlandish, Vanity Fair sought the opinion of the Harvard professor Ronald Schouten, an expert on psychopaths, who gave this diagnosis-at-a-distance: Macchiarini is the extreme form of a con man. Hes clearly bright and has accomplishments, but he cant contain himself. Theres a void in his personality that he seems to want to fill by conning more and more people.

Which left a big, burning question in the air: if Macchiarini was a pathological liar in matters of love, what about his medical research? Was he conning his patients, his colleagues and the scientific community?

The answer came only a couple of weeks later, when Swedish television began broadcasting a three-part expos of Macchiarini and his work.

Called Experimenten (The Experiments), it argued convincingly that Macchiarinis artificial windpipes were not the life-saving wonders wed all been led to believe. On the contrary, they seemed to do more harm than good something that Macchiarini had for years concealed or downplayed in his scientific articles, press releases and interviews.

Faced with this public relations disaster, the Karolinska Institute immediately promised to investigate the allegations but then, within days, suddenly announced that Macchiarinis contract would not be extended.

Macchiarinis fall was swift, but troubling questions remain about why he was allowed to continue his experiments for so long. Some answers have emerged from the official inquiries into the Karolinska Institute and the Karolinska University hospital. They identified many problems with the way the twin organisations handled him.

Macchiarinis fame had won him well-placed backers. These included Harriet Wallberg, who was the vice-chancellor of the Karolinska Institute in 2010, when Macchiarini was recruited. She pushed through his appointment despite the fact that he had some very negative references and dubious claims on his rsum.

This set a dangerous example. It showed department heads and colleagues that they should give Macchiarini special treatment.

He could do pretty much as he pleased. In the first couple of years at Karolinska, he put plastic airways into three patients. Since this was radically new, Macchiarini and his colleagues should have tested it on animals first. They didnt.

Likewise, they didnt undertake a proper risk assessment of the procedure, nor did Macchiarinis team seek government permits for the plastic windpipes, stem cells, and chemical growth factors they used. They didnt even seek the approval of Stockholms ethical review board, which is based at Karolinska.

Though Macchiarini was in the public eye, he was able to sidestep the usual rules and regulations. Or rather, his celebrity status helped him do so. Karolinskas leadership expected big things from their superstar, things that would bring prestige and funding to the institute.

They also cited a loophole known as compassionate use. Macchiarini, they claimed, wasnt really doing clinical research. No, he was just caring for his patients who were, one and all, facing certain death with no other treatment options available and no time to waste. In such dire circumstances, new treatments can be tried as a last resort.

This argument didnt wash with those who later investigated the case. In their view, Macchiarini was certainly engaged in clinical research. Besides which, compassionate concerns dont override the basic principles of patient safety and informed consent. Macchiarini, meanwhile, said he did not accept the findings of the disciplinary board.

As it turned out, Macchiarinis patients werent all at deaths door at the time he treated them. Andemariam Beyene, for instance, had recurrent cancer of the windpipe but, aside from a cough, was still in good health. But even if his days had been numbered, this didnt necessarily justify what Macchiarini put him through.

Beyenes death two and a half years after the operation, caused by the failure of his artificial airway, was a grueling ordeal. According to Pierre Delaere, a professor of respiratory surgery at KU Leuven, Belgium, Macchiarinis experiments were bound to end badly. As he said in Experimenten: If I had the option of a synthetic trachea or a firing squad, Id choose the last option because it would be the least painful form of execution.

Delaere was one of the earliest and harshest critics of Macchiarinis engineered airways. Reports of their success always seemed like hot air to him. He could see no real evidence that the windpipe scaffolds were becoming living, functioning airways in which case, they were destined to fail. The only question was how long it would take weeks, months or a few years.

Delaeres damning criticisms appeared in major medical journals, including the Lancet, but werent taken seriously by Karolinskas leadership. Nor did they impress the institutes ethics council when Delaere lodged a formal complaint.

Support for Macchiarini remained strong, even as his patients began to die. In part, this is because the field of windpipe repair is a niche area. Few people at Karolinska, especially among those in power, knew enough about it to appreciate Delaeres claims. Also, in such a highly competitive environment, people are keen to show allegiance to their superiors and wary of criticising them. The official report into the matter dubbed this the bandwagon effect.

With Macchiarinis exploits endorsed by management and breathlessly reported in the media, it was all too easy to jump on that bandwagon.

And difficult to jump off. In early 2014, four Karolinska doctors defied the reigning culture of silence by complaining about Macchiarini. In their view, he was grossly misrepresenting his results and the health of his patients. An independent investigator agreed. But the vice-chancellor of Karolinska Institute, Anders Hamsten, wasnt bound by this judgement. He officially cleared Macchiarini of scientific misconduct, allowing merely that hed sometimes acted without due care.

For their efforts, the whistleblowers were punished. When Macchiarini accused one of them, Karl-Henrik Grinnemo, of stealing his work in a grant application, Hamsten found him guilty. As Grinnemo recalls, it nearly destroyed his career: I didnt receive any new grants. No one wanted to collaborate with me. We were doing good research, but it didnt matter I thought I was going to lose my lab, my staff everything.

This went on for three years until, just recently, Grinnemo was cleared of all wrongdoing.

The Macchiarini scandal claimed many of his powerful friends. The vice-chancellor, Anders Hamsten, resigned. So did Karolinskas dean of research. Likewise the secretary-general of the Nobel Committee. The university board was dismissed and even Harriet Wallberg, whod moved on to become the chancellor for all Swedish universities, lost her job.

Unfortunately, the scandal is much bigger than Karolinska, which accounts for only three of the patients who have received Macchiarinis regenerating windpipes.

The other patients were treated at hospitals in Barcelona, Florence, London, Moscow, Krasnodar, Chicago and Peoria. None of these institutions have faced the same kind of public scrutiny. None have been forced to hold full and independent inquiries. They should be.

If the sins of Karolinska have been committed elsewhere, it is partly because medical research facilities share a common milieu, which harbours common dangers. One of these is the hype surrounding stem cells.

Stem cell research is a hot field of science and, according to statistics, also a rather scandal-prone one. Articles in this area are retracted 2.4 times more often than the average for biomedicine, and over half of these retractions are due to fraud.

Does the heat of stem cell research the high levels of funding, prestige and media coverage it enjoys somehow encourage fraud? Thats what our experience of medical research leads us to suspect. While there isnt enough data to actually prove this, we do have some key indicators.

We have, for example, a growing list of scientific celebrities who have committed major stem cell fraud. There is South Koreas Hwang Woo-suk who, in 2004, falsely claimed to have created the first human embryonic stem cells by means of cloning. A few years ago, Japans Haruko Obokata pulled a similar con when she announced to the world a new and simple and fake method of turning ordinary body cells into stem cells.

Hwang, Obokata and Macchiarini were all attracted to the hottest regions of stem cell research, where hope for a medical breakthrough was greatest. In Macchiarinis case, the hope was that patients could be treated with stem cells taken from their own bone marrow.

Over the years, this possibility has generated great excitement and a huge amount of research. Yet, for the vast majority of such treatments, there is little solid evidence that they work. (The big exception is blood stem cell transplantation, which has been saving the lives of people with leukemia and other cancers of the blood for decades.)

Its enough to worry officials from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They recently published an article in the New England Journal of Medicine admitting that stem cell research has mostly failed to live up to its therapeutic promise.

An alarmingly wide gap has grown between what we expect from stem cells and what they deliver. Each new scientific discovery brings a flood of stories about how it will revolutionise medicine one day soon. But that day is always postponed. An unhappy result of this is the rise of pseudo-scientific therapies. Stem cell clinics have sprung up like weeds, offering to treat just about any ailment you can name. In place of clinical data, there are gushing testimonials. There are also plenty of desperate patients who believe because theyve been told countless times that stem cells are the cure, and who cannot wait any longer for mainstream medicine. They and their loved ones fall victim to false hope.

Scientists can also suffer from false hope. To some extent, they believed Macchiarini because he told them what they wanted to hear. You can see this in the speed with which his breakthroughs were accepted. Only four months after Macchiarini operated on Claudia Castillo, his results provisional but very positive were published online by the Lancet. Thereafter it was all over the news.

The popular press also has a lot to answer for. Its love of human interest stories makes it sympathetic to unproven therapies. As studies have shown, the media often casts a positive light on stem cell tourism, suggesting that the treatments are effective and the risks low. It did much the same for Macchiarinis windpipe replacements. A good example is the NBC documentary A Leap of Faith. Its fascinating to rewatch as a lesson on how not to report on medical science.

It is fitting that Macchiarinis career unravelled at the Karolinska Institute. As the home of the Nobel prize in physiology or medicine, one of its ambitions is to create scientific celebrities. Every year, it gives science a show-business makeover, picking out from the mass of medical researchers those individuals deserving of superstardom. The idea is that scientific progress is driven by the genius of a few.

Its a problematic idea with unfortunate side effects. A genius is a revolutionary by definition, a risk-taker and a law-breaker. Wasnt something of this idea behind the special treatment Karolinska gave Macchiarini? Surely, he got away with so much because he was considered an exception to the rules with more than a whiff of the Nobel about him. At any rate, some of his most powerful friends were themselves Nobel judges until, with his fall from grace, they fell too.

If there is a moral to this tale, its that we need to be wary of medical messiahs with their promises of salvation.

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Dr Con Man: the rise and fall of a celebrity scientist who fooled almost everyone - The Guardian