Volume 10.50 | Dec 21

Cell Therapy News 10.50, December 21, 2009
     In this issue: Science | Policy | Business | NIH | CBER | Regulatory
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Top Stories

Cellular Dynamics Announces Commercial Launch of iCell™ Cardiomyocytes for Drug Candidate Toxicity Screening: Cellular Dynamics International recently announced the commercial launch of iCell™ Cardiomyocytes for use in testing of new drug candidates by the pharmaceutical industry. [Cellular Dynamics International, Madison]
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Science

Stem Cell Activators Switch Function, Repress Mature Cells
The study shows for the first time that three proteins, called E2f1, E2f2 and E2f3, play a key role in the transition stem cells make to their final, differentiated, state. [The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center-Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute, Ohio]
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Umbilical Cord Could be New Source of Plentiful Stem Cells, say Pitt Researchers
Stem cells that could one day provide therapeutic options for muscle and bone disorders can be easily harvested from the tissue of the umbilical cord, just as the blood that goes through it provides precursor cells to treat some blood disorders.  The team will test the umbilical cord stem cells in animal models of cartilage and bone repair, as well as muscle regeneration. [University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh]
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Study Reveals Surprising Lack of Genetic Diversity in the Most Widely Used Human Embryonic Stem Cell Lines
In the first published study of its kind, researchers analyzed 47 embryonic stem cell lines, and found that most were derived from donors of northern and western European ancestry. [University of Michigan, Ann Arbor]
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Marking of Tissue-Specific Crucial in Embryonic Stem Cells to Ensure Proper Function
Tissue-specific genes, thought to be dormant or not marked for activation in embryonic stem cells, are indeed marked by transcription factors, with proper marking potentially crucial for the function of tissues derived from stem cells. [Broad Stem Cell Research Center, Los Angeles]
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Gene Therapy, Stem Cells Save Limb Damaged by Low Blood Flow
Using mice as their model, researchers at Johns Hopkins have developed therapies that increase blood flow, improve movement and decrease tissue death and the need for amputation. [Johns Hopkins Medicine, Baltimore]
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Single Dose of Proprietary Adult Stem Cells Regenerates Damaged Pancreas and Reduces Blood Glucose Levels in Diabetes
Mesoblast Limited recently announced significant preclinical trial results showing that the proprietary adult stem cell platform could be an effective treatment for diabetes. [Mesoblast Limited, Melbourne]
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Penn Researchers Find Reproductive Germ Cells Survive and Thrive In Transplants, Even Among Species
Reproductive researchers have succeeded in isolating and transplanting pure populations of the immature cells that enable male reproduction in two species—human spermatogonia and mouse gonocytes. [University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia]
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PUBLICATIONS, REVIEWS AND SPECIAL REPORTS

Orphan Nuclear Receptor TLX Activates Wnt/(Beta)-Catenin signaling to Stimulate Neural Stem Cell Proliferation and Self-Renewal
Scientists show that TLX activates the canonical Wnt/(Beta)-catenin pathway in adult mouse neural stem cells. Furthermore, they demonstrate that Wnt/(Beta)-catenin signaling is important in the proliferation and self-renewal of adult neural stem cells in the presence of epidermal growth factor and fibroblast growth factor. [Nat Cell Biol]
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Accumulation of a Differentiation Regulator Specifies Transit Amplifying Division Number in an Adult Stem Cell Lineage
Using a model stem cell lineage, the Drosophila male germ line, the mechanism that counts the number of transit amplifying divisions was investigated. [PNAS]
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A Genomewide Study identifies the Wnt Signaling Pathway as a Major Target of p53 in Murine Embryonic Stem Cells
This study reports a surprising antidifferentiation function of p53 in mouse embryonic stem cells through directly regulating the Wnt signaling pathway. [PNAS]
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Oct4 and Klf4 Reprogram Dermal Papilla Cells into Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells
Dermal papilla cells, which are specialized skin fibroblasts thought to instruct hair follicle stem cells, endogenously express high levels of Sox2 and c-Myc, and that these cells can be reprogrammed into iPS cells with only Oct4 and Klf4. [Stem Cells]
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Periapical Follicle Stem Cell: a Promising Candidate for Cementum/Periodontal Ligament Regeneration and Bio-Root Engineering
Researchers investigated the properties of periapical follicle stem cells isolated from the apical end of developing root of human third molars at the root-developing stage and evaluated the potential application of these cells for cementum/periodontal ligament regeneration and bio-root engineering. [Stem Cells Dev]
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Hypoxia Inducible Factors Regulate Pluripotency and Proliferation in Human Embryonic Stem Cells Cultured at Reduced Oxygen Tensions
Culturing human embryonic stem (hES) cells at 20% oxygen decreased hES cell proliferation and resulted in a significantly reduced expression of SOX2, NANOG and POU5F1 (OCT4) mRNA as well as POU5F1 protein compared with hypoxic conditions. [Reproduction]
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Policy

National Institutes of Health Approves 27 More Stem Cell Lines
National Institutes of Health chief Francis Collins approved another 27 human embryonic stem cell lines for federal research funding, but limited support to diabetes-related pancreatic cell experiments. [National Institutes of Health, United States]
Article

State Stem Cell Funding Possibly In Jeopardy
State money has helped Connecticut carve a niche in stem cell research, luring top scientists to the state and funding more than 200 researchers; however, with a looming budget deficit, state stem cell funding could be in jeopardy, at least temporarily. [University of Connecticut, Yale and Wesleyan, United States]
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Nixon Backs Plan for Biotechnology Incentive Fund
Governor Jay Nixon embraced a proposal to direct tens of millions of tax dollars to Missouri’s biotechnology industry to keep pace with other states competing for high-tech jobs. [Missouri Technology Corp., United States]
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Business

Horizon Discovery and University of Washington Expand Gene-Targeting Licenses to Include Bioproduction & Stem Cell Applications
The new agreements give Horizon a world-wide exclusive right to commercialize inventions relating to the use of parvoviral vectors in human genome engineering.
Article

Silence Therapeutics to Merge with Intradigm Corp to Create Leading RNAi Therapeutics Company
The enlarged company, to be called Silence Therapeutics, will have multiple RNAi discovery, development and delivery technologies, a broad internal and partnered product pipeline and a broad portfolio of intellectual property.
Article

Caltech, UCLA Launch Joint Center for Translational Medicine
The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) have announced the establishment of the Joint Center for Translational Medicine, which will advance experimental research into clinical applications, including the diagnosis and therapy of diseases such as cancer.
Article

School of Medicine Receives Grant to Coordinate a Consortium of National Stem Cell Experts
Michael L. Terrin, MD, CM, MPH, professor of epidemiology and preventive medicine, was chosen by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) to coordinate the research of this consortium of national experts, which will be called the NHLBI Progenitor Cell Biology Consortium.
Article

Indiana Industry, University and Community Leaders Capitalize on Next Generation of State’s Life Sciences Growth
Capitalizing on the continued strong growth of Indiana’s life sciences industry and an active venture capital market, leaders from BioCrossroads, Eli Lilly and Company, Indiana State Teachers Retirement Fund, Indiana University, Purdue University, the University of Notre Dame, Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation, and Credit Suisse recently announced the establishment of the INext Fund, a $58 million venture capital fund of funds.
Article

Boston University School of Medicine’s Pulmonary Center Receives $1.4 Million Grant
Boston University School of Medicine’s Pulmonary Center has received a two-year $1.4 million grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to derive stem cells and lung progenitors from patients with lung disease.
Article

Amsterdam Molecular Therapeutics Successfully Raises EUR 5 Million via a Convertible Bond Issue with Shareholder Forbion
Amsterdam Molecular Therapeutics intends to use the net proceeds from the issue to further strengthen its focused pipeline development activities in the areas of Hemophilia B, Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, Acute Intermittent Porphyria, and Parkinson’s Disease.
Article

UK Lays Out Regulatory Roadmap for Stem Cell Treatments
The UK Department of Health has drawn up a regulatory roadmap to guide stem cell researchers seeking to get treatments to clinics, following complaints that progress is being blocked by bureaucratic complexities.
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U.S. Patent Office Grants Geron’s Request for an Interference with U.S. Patent No. 7,510,876 to Novocell
Geron Corporation recently announced that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences, has granted Geron’s request to declare an interference between a patent application owned by Geron and U.S. Patent No. 7,510,876 owned by Novocell, Inc. The patent filings cover technology for the differentiation of human embryonic stem cells into the precursors of numerous endoderm cell types, including pancreatic islet cells.
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Isis and Alnylam Announce Notice of Allowance for New U.S. Patent Application Broadly Covering RNAi Therapeutics
Isis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc. announced recently that the United States Patent and Trademark Office has issued a Notice of Allowance for U.S. patent application (No. 10/078,949) in the “Crooke” patent family, which broadly covers chemically modified RNA-containing therapeutics.
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StemCells, Inc. Strengthens Patent Position in Embryonic and Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Technology Platforms
StemCells, Inc. announced that it has received a Notice of Allowance and a Notice of Issuance from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for two patents claiming technologies for the establishment and maintenance of cell pluripotency, including the reprogramming of cells to create pluripotent stem cells.
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NIH

Peer Review Veteran John Raymond Awarded NIH Center for Scientific Review’s Top Honor
NIH Center for Scientific Review recently announced its top honor for extraordinary commitment to peer review will go to veteran reviewer Dr. John Raymond from the Medical University of South Carolina and the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center.
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Clarification of Terms and Conditions of Awards using Human Embryonic Stem Cells (NOT-OD-10-029)
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Independent Scientist Award (Parent K02) (PA-10-057)
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Academic Career Award (Parent K07) (PA-10-058)
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Mentored Clinical Scientist Research Career Development Award (Parent K08) (PA-10-059)
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Midcareer Investigator Award in Patient-Oriented Research (Parent K24) (PA-10-061)
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NIH Pathway to Independence Award (Parent K99/R00) (PA-10-063)
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CBER

2009 Meeting Materials of the Blood Products Advisory Committee
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Regulatory

FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION (United States)

Food and Drug Administration Opens Mexico City Office
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that it has opened a Mexico City post to help boost U.S. food and medical product safety by working with Mexican officials.
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Tyler Stepping Down as Insurance Commissioner
Maryland Insurance Commissioner Ralph S. Tyler, a former top aide to Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), is stepping down early next year to become general counsel at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
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