Archive for February 13th, 2009|Daily archive page


In ALL ARTICLES, STEM CELLS - 101, STEM CELLS IN THE NEWS on February 13, 2009 at 10:44 pm



Stem cells: Deathly awakening by interferon

February 12, 9:38 PM
by Trina Hoaks, Science Examiner

After injuries with blood loss, the body quickly needs to restore the vital blood volume. This is accomplished by a special group of stem cells in the bone marrow. These hematopoietic stem cells remain dormant throughout their lives and are only awakened to activity in case of injury and loss of blood. Then they immediately start dividing to make up for the loss of blood cells. This has recently been shown by a group of scientists headed by Professor Andreas Trumpp of DKFZ.

Dormancy is an important protection mechanism of stem cells. First, it protects their genetic material from genetic alterations, which happen primarily during cell division. In addition, dormancy helps them escape attacks of many cytotoxins, which act only on dividing cells.

Scientists were still puzzling over which signaling molecules actually wake up stem cells from their dormancy. Andreas Trumpp and Marieke Essers from his team have now reported in Nature that interferon-alpha, a messenger substance of the immune system, acts like an alarm clock for hematopoietic stem cells. The scientists have thus shown for the first time that interferon-alpha can have a direct influence on the function of stem cells.

Interferon-alpha is released by immune cells when the organism is threatened by bacteria or viruses. The scientists triggered interferon production in mice by administering a substance that simulates a viral infection to the animals. Subsequently, there was a great increase in the division rate of hematopoietic stem cells. In control animals that were unable to process the interferon signals, the substance did not lead to an awakening of the stem cells.

The investigators obtained further proof of the effect of interferon-alpha using a drug called 5-fluorouracil, a cytotoxic substance frequently used for treating breast or bowel cancer. Dormant stem cells are resistant to the drug, which unfolds its effect only during division. However, if animals are given interferon-alpha prior to treatment with 5-fluorouracil, they die of anemia after a short time. This is because prior treatment with interferon forces quiescent stem cells into cell division, which sensitizes them for the effect of 5-FU and kills them. Thus, there are soon no more stem cells to keep up the supply of short-lived mature blood cells such as erythrocytes and blood platelets.

What researchers find particularly exciting about this finding is the prospect that the newly found working mechanism might help improve cancer treatment: “Using interferon-alpha, we might be able to wake up from dormancy not only hematopoietic stem cells but also tumor stem cells and, thus, break their frequently observed resistance to many anticancer drugs,” Andreas Trumpp speculates.

A clinical observation already suggests that this assumption is more than just wishful thinking: Patients suffering from a type of blood cancer called chronic myelogenous leukemia who are treated with a drug called Gleevec almost always relapse after drug treatment has ended. Several patients were given interferon-alpha prior to the Gleevec treatment. Surprisingly, these patients experienced long relapse-free phases without any medication. “We believe that the leukemia stem cells were awakened by the interferon administration and, thus, were sensitized to elimination by Gleevec,” Andreas Trumpp explains.


In ALL ARTICLES, STEM CELLS IN THE NEWS on February 13, 2009 at 10:36 pm


Stem Cells In Hair Follicles Point To General Model Of Organ Regeneration

ScienceDaily (Feb. 13, 2009) — Most people consider hair as a purely cosmetic part of their lives. To others, it may help uncover one of nature’s best-kept secrets: the body’s ability to regenerate organs. Now, new research from Rockefeller University gets to the root of the problem, revealing that a structure at the base of each strand of hair, the hair follicle, uses a two-step mechanism to activate its stem cells and order them to divide.

The mechanism provides insights into how repositories of stem cells may be organized in other body tissues for the purpose of supporting organ regeneration.

“The hair follicle is like a mini-dispensable organ,” says Elaine Fuchs, head of the Laboratory of Mammalian Cell Biology and Development. “Throughout our lifetime, each hair follicle undergoes cyclical bouts of growth, destruction and rest through an intrinsic stem cell population. It provides an excellent opportunity to investigate the molecular process of tissue regeneration and stem cell self-renewal.”

For a new round of hair growth to begin, stem cells in the hair follicle must receive a signal to divide. In response to this signal, the hair follicle regenerates first by growing downward through the skin’s middle layer, the dermis, and then producing the specialized cells that form the hair. After a period during which the hair grows longer, stem cells stop dividing, and the hair follicle gradually retracts again. There is then a period of rest and the cycle repeats.

via Stem Cells In Hair Follicles Point To General Model Of Organ Regeneration.

Geron’s Stem-Cell Research Hype Soaks Investors

In ALL ARTICLES, STEM CELLS IN THE NEWS on February 13, 2009 at 10:01 pm


Geron’s Stem-Cell Research Hype Soaks Investors

02/13/09 – 09:46 AM EST – GERN , STEM , OSI – Adam Feuerstein

A surefire way to ensure some measure of public enmity is make a public recommendation to short a stem-cell stock. That’s what I did on Jan. 26, when I added Geron(GERN Quote – Cramer on GERN – Stock Picks) as a short to the model portfolio I manage as part of TheStreet.com’s Biotech Select investment newsletter.

As I told my subscribers at that time, I’m not against stem-cell medicine, and I certainly hope one day that the field provides medical breakthroughs. I simply don’t believe Geron is going to be the company to deliver on the promise of stem cells, based on its ignominious track record of drug development so far.

In fact, the only thing Geron has done exceedingly well in its 13 years as a public company is surf the waves of stem-cell hype and use that momentum to raise lots of money.

Geron reverted to this well-worn tactic again Thursday night, when it quickly sold 7.25 million shares at a price of $6.60, a 14% discount to the stock’s Thursday closing price of $7.77. The spot-financing deal grossed Geron about $43 million.

I was the first to report Geron’s stock sale Thursday night on RealMoney.com. Geron confirmed the financing in a press release Friday morning but did not disclose the sale price. Geron said the financing will close on Feb. 19.

Geron shares were falling 14% to $6.68 in early Friday trading.

via Geron’s Stem-Cell Research Hype Soaks Investors | Biotech | Financial Articles & Investing News | TheStreet.com.




Stem Cells Cure Boy With Graft Versus Host Disease (GVHD) At Duke

Posted 13 February, 2009 in Bone Marrow Donations/Transplants, Cerebral Palsy, Graft Vs Host Disease, Leukemia

In what has been an amazing week for Adult Stem Cell research, Kameron Kooshesh has been cured of his Graft Versus Host Disease (GVHD) after receiving Osiris’ Adult Stem Cell product Prochymal in a clinical trial at Duke University.

Kameron, a young 14 year old boy had been suffering from Graft Versus Host Disease (GVHD) after receiving a bone marrow transplant to cure his Leukemia at the age of 9. GVHD is a disease in which the foreign cells introduced by the bone marrow transplant (taken from a human donor) attack the host’s (the patient) organs and tissues because they do not recognize them.

Kameron had a severe gastrointestinal problem due to the GVHD. It was very bad and it limited him so much he couldn’t even go up stairs.

He enrolled at a clinical trial run by Dr. Joanne Kurtzberg at Duke University. Dr. Kurtzberg is famous in this blog for the work she has done helping children with cerebral palsy with stem cells taken from their own cord blood.

At Duke, Kameron was given Prochymal, which is a stem cell product from Osiris made up of stem cells taken from the bone marrow of healthy human donors.

Here are the results:

“At one point, he couldn’t climb stairs,” His mother Janet recalled.

Now, Kameron has no problem climbing the stairs. He’s also back in school full time. His recovery started quickly after taking part in a clinical trial at Duke.

“Within three weeks – it was just incredible,” said Kooshesh. “Absolutely incredible.”

“We’ve seen more than half the children we’ve treated respond with full resolution of the graft vs. host disease which is remarkable,” said Dr. Joanne Kurtzberg, Director of the Pediatric Blood & Marrow Transplant Program at Duke Children’s.

A “full resolution” sounds great to me and I’m sure it sounds even better to the young man, Kameron.

Click here to see the full story and a slow loading stem cell video

Click here to see more on Osiris’ Prochymal to help GVHD

UPDATE: Osiris just came out with a press release announcing results of their trial using Prochymal to treat Heart Attack patients.

via Adult Stem Cell Research.

HIV/AIDS: How many people have HIV/AIDS?

In ALL ARTICLES on February 13, 2009 at 9:53 pm

lotsa-peopleHow many people have HIV/AIDS?

UNAIDS estimates that 32.9 million people were living with HIV/AIDS worldwide as of the end of 2007, up from 29.5 million in 2001. The latest global HIV/AIDS estimates from UNAIDS/WHO reflect improved and expanded HIV surveillance, country data collection and methodologies, as well as an increased understanding of the natural course of the epidemic.

via HIV/AIDS: How many people have HIV/AIDS?.

Stem cell treatment heals Fremont police dog – 2/09/09 – San Francisco News – abc7news.com


By Carolyn Johnson

FREMONT, CA (KGO) — The first human trials involving stem cell therapy were approved just weeks ago, but a growing number of other patients are already benefitting from stem cell treatments.

Those patients are dogs and the results are reportedly encouraging.

Cris the police dog is a five-year-old German Shepherd who was a whisker away from retirement last year when he tore a muscle in his rear leg during training.

Story continues below


“He was jumping and the next morning he came and he wouldn’t put any weight on his leg at all,” Fremont Police Officer Matt Snelson said.

Snelson is Cris’ partner at the Fremont Police Department, where the dogs are expected to do everything from sniff out drugs to chase down fleeing suspects.

“They can run three times as fast as a human. So, if we have someone running, it’s easier to use the dog to apprehend them,” he said.

Officer Snelson took Cris to Dr. Gary Brown, a veterinary surgeon who has treated dozens of injured police dogs.

“A big red flag went up because that type of injury is often repetitive,” the doctor explained.

Instead of surgery, Brown opted for an emerging treatment using Cris’ own stem cells. After removing body fat from the stomach area, Brown sent them to a lab in San Diego which extracted the cells and returned them in less than 48 hours.

“So, we sterily injected an aliquot of stem cells next to the muscle at the injury, at the other side, and some of it intravenously through a filter,” Brown said, explaining the process.

Brown then monitored ultrasounds which showed the return of normal muscle growth over several months. He says the technique is still considered experimental in dogs, but has been used for about five years in horses.

“And, at eleven weeks it’s starting to look like normal muscle; the dog is clinically normal and so we put him into rehabilitee stretching rehab,” Brown said.

Eventually, Cris was able to chase down suspects during drills. His progress continued to the point that he was able to rejoin the force two months ago.

The technology is marketed by a San Diego company called Vet-Stem, which says it is also being used to treat hip dysplasia and joint problems, so far, without evidence of complications.

via Stem cell treatment heals Fremont police dog – 2/09/09 – San Francisco News – abc7news.com.

Stem cell treatment heals Fremont police dog – 2/09/09 – San Francisco News – abc7news.com


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