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Dec 5, 2013

World Stem Cell Summit: December 4, 2013 Update

  • GEN is on the scene at the World Stem Cell Summit in San Diego. Here are some highlights from the conference so far:

    Bernard Siegel, J.D., founder and co-chair of the World Stem Cell Summit (WSCS) and executive director of Genetics Policy Institute, today welcomed attendees of WSCS 2013, being held December 4–6, in San Diego, CA.

    “Stem cell science represents, to those afflicted with chronic disease, a vehicle for modeling disease and therapeutic development,” states Siegel in World Stem Cell Report 2013, a supplement to Stem Cells and Development (2013;22;Suppl1). “The field is a true scientific revolution and reflects the transformative power of hope, a powerful engine for progress.”

    “The future is here now,” says Mahendra Rao, M.D., Ph.D., director, NIH Center for Regenerative Medicine, who delivered a plenary keynote and moderated the plenary panel discussion, “How Stem Cells are Transforming Medicine.” Cell therapies have been used to treat people safely and effectively; the technical barriers have been addressed. The challenge now is to reduce the cost of manufacturing. To drive routine adoption of cell therapy it must be cost effective and must demonstrate more than incremental benefit, according to Dr. Rao.

    Professor Teruo Okano, Ph.D., Tokyo Women’s Medical University, described his group’s Cell Sheet Tissue Engineering strategy that involves enzymatic membrane disruption during cell harvesting and growth of an autologous cell sheet for transplantation on an “intelligent surface” that reversibly changes properties from hydrophobic to hydrophilic with a reversible in temperature from 37°C to 20°C. Dr. Okano further described the development of an automatic tissue factory and thick tissue evaluation system for fully automated, industrialized GMP cell processing.

    Andre Terzic, M.D., Ph.D., Center for Regenerative Medicine, Mayo Clinic, noted during the opening session of the WSCS that “the Mayo Clinic has embraced regenerative medicine as a strategy for the future of medicine,” and he described their blueprint for moving from knowledge to delivery of treatments and procedures. Education is a critical dimension of this process. Another important component, according to Dr. Terzic, is the Regenerative Medicine Biotrust, in which “the patient is the center of the solution” to develop combinations of diagnostics and therapeutics and conduct clinical trials.

    Regardless of the outcomes of current or future clinical trials, “I would argue that we have already seen breakthroughs,” said Evan Snyder, Ph.D., Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, as stem cells “have completely changed the way medicine thinks about disease and development.” They have led to new views on plasticity and regeneration and the development of different types of drug targets.

    WSCS 2013 is organized by the Genetics Policy Institute (GPI), California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences at Kyoto University (iCeMS), Mayo Clinic, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, and The Scripps Research Institute. Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. publishers and Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN) are sponsors of the summit.

    For more from the WSCS, be sure to check out "Neural Precursors 'Cure MS' in Mice", "Mary Ann Liebert Wins Stem Cell Education Award", "$1M Award to Develop a Replacement Liver Announced", and "Stem Cell Leaders Call for Human Embryome Project".

    Also, watch our video "A Brief History of Stem Cells" to see a timeline spanning over 60 years of stem cell research. 



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