Bedford Research Foundation 2014 Newsletter
Read about all of the progress and the research that has occurred at the Foundation over the course of the past year, and a retrospective on the past 18! Dr. Kiessling outlines her vision for the upcoming year as well. Thank you for your support.
Bedford Research Foundation is EIGHTEEN
See our Timeline of Milestones!
Bedford Research Stem Cells Glow!
It Works: Breakthroughs in understanding circadian rhythms in stem cells.
Fall 2014: Bedford Research scientists are following up on their discovery that stem cells have a circadian rhythm and that it may need to be supported for optimum development in the laboratory. In the body, all cells are influenced by the daily pattern of light and dark which controls many signals sent out by the brain, such as those that trigger changes in body temperature, and feelings of hunger and sleepiness.
Stem cells may especially need circadian signals to form into different cell types, such as neurons or bone marrow — but what type of signal should they receive in the laboratory? And what frequency? There is growing evidence that each type of cell needs a different circadian signal.
To answer this question, Bedford Research scientists have taken advantage of a genetically engineered mouse that has the firefly “glow” gene (Luciferase) attached to one of the circadian rhythm genes (the “Period 2” gene). Tissues in this PerLuc mouse “glow” when Period 2 is active.
Recently, Bedford Research scientists derived two new lines of stem cells from the PerLuc mouse, but discovered their circadian signal needs had been hindered by lack of a microscope sensitive enough to detect and photograph the glow of a small number of cells.
The good news is that such a microscope has been developed, and this year became available in the U.S. The bad news is that the system costs $160,000 and is not yet available anywhere on the east coast.
Olympus loaned Bedford Research scientists a demonstration LV200 for a couple of weeks this fall during which we discovered that our PerLuc stem cells do, indeed “glow” (Figure 1), and that the “glow” actually begins soon after activation, and increases as it transitions into stem cells. The “glow” seems to increase as it transitions into stem cells (Figure2).
These exciting new findings provide strong support for the importance of circadian rhythms in stem cell growth and development. One of our goals is to raise funds to purchase the new microscope system as soon as possible in order to discover what circadian signals stimulate differentiation of each cell type
Bedford’s Science Advisory Committee Grows
Dr. Jose Cibelli joins as chair and welcomes four new members. In January of 2014, Bedford Trustee, Dr. Jose Cibelli, Michigan State University, joined Bedford’s Science Advisory Committee as its chair. This summer, the Committee welcomed new members: Dr. Fred Davis, Northeastern University, Dr. David DiGiusto, City of Hope Cancer Research Center, Dr. Phil Horner, University of Washington, and Dr. Steve Sheridan, Harvard Medical School. We’re thrilled to have this amazing committee who join founding member, Dr. Carol Warner, Emeritus, Northeastern University.
Progress in Stem Cell Engineering
There is strong evidence that “off-the shelf” stem cell therapies, i.e. one that can be delivered to any patient, will be possible in the future. In order to create such therapies, we will need stem cells that have been engineered for specific regenerative medicine treatments, such as bone marrow stem cells that are resistant to HIV.
Using “activated” mouse eggs (called “parthenotes”) as a model system, Bedford Research scientists have made substantial progress adapting new technologies to “knock-out” the receptor for HIV. The same technology is being applied to new cell lines for studies of nerve development.
After 16 years at Davis Square in Somerville, MA, we are moving to a larger space in Bedford, MA. The need to develop an FDA-approved laboratory module for “bench to bedside” stem cell research, plus a unique “lease to purchase” opportunity prompted the move. We have two years to raise $800,000 to purchase the building. We are seeking support from state life science research funds as well as philanthropists.
We have one pledge of $75,000. To find out more about endowing the laboratory please email firstname.lastname@example.org so we can take advantage of the lease opportunity and the savings in overhead that can be diverted to the research.
Research Update Patient recruitment into the prostate cancer screening project is ongoing. The goal of the project is to develop semen screening tests that will help diagnose and stage prostate cancer as well as reflect overall male health. A group of urologists in Texas have recently joined the research project and will help recruit patients for the next phase of the work.
In June, Dr. Kiessling was honored to give the commencement address at Oregon State University. Over 25,000 people filled Reser Stadium where Dr. Kiessling highlighted the importance for graduates in all fields to stay involved with government throughout their lives to help our democracy, and to help shape the course of science and society. Dr. Kiessling was presented with an Honorary Doctorate, and even took on the rival ducks! (See the video on our site!)
In March, Dr. Kiessling received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2014 HIV Congress held in Mumbia, India. This award recognizes her work on understanding HIV infection, establishment of the SPAR program, and her current work with HIV
A Track Record Of Translating Basic Research To Patient Care
In 1996, the Bedford Research Foundation was formed in response to a need for specialized tests and services that were not available anywhere in the world. Today, we still provide these specialized tests and it has led us to a new model of funding:
“The Foundation is a forward thinking institution that covers overhead costs by fee-for-service testing, thus allowing philanthropic donations to go directly to research.”
– Alan Geismer, Chairman,
Board of Trustees
Our work to derive a human stem cell line that is resistant to HIV infection (Engineered to “knock-out” the HIV receptor. See the video on our site!) cannot be federally funded because of an amendment restricting the budget of the National Institutes of Health. This research is, therefore, entirely dependent upon philanthropy.
In addition to basic science, our team is also focused on moving stem cell research from “bench to bedside.” Capital is needed to equip an FDA-approved laboratory module in our new location. Please consider donating today, every gift makes a difference.
Who is Bedford Research Foundation?
“Bedford’s stem cell work this year has moved the field closer to the realization of a curative therapy for HIV.”
– Dr. David Digiusto
Director of the Laboratory for Cellular Medicine at City of Hope & Bedford Research Science Advisory Committee Member Since 2013
Each Experiment Brings Us Closer
The average foundation laboratory experiment costs $90,000. Because most of our overhead is covered by fee-for-service laboratory tests, every dollar you donate goes directly toward these experiments. This innovative funding model allows Bedford Research scientists greater flexibility to move the work quickly in promising new directions. Progress requires meeting our annual funding goals. Please become a supporter and help us do more experiments this year.