Bedford Research Foundation 2018 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 22! Dr. Kiessling outlines her vision for the upcoming year as well. Thank you for your support.
Bedford Research Foundation is TWENTY TWO
See our Timeline of Milestones!
Stem Cells for Every Body
Unfertilized eggs can be activated artificially (parthenogenesis) to undergo cell multiplications similar to fertilized eggs, but do not give rise to offspring. At the time of activation, a protein responsible for tissue rejection can be silenced by gene editing.
“Universal donor” stem cells can then be derived from such edited parthenotes that are missing the major tissue rejection protein. Similar to Type O blood, such “universal” stem cells could be available “off-the-shelf” in emergency rooms for acute injuries, such as heart attack, stroke and spinal cord injury. This would be a major step forward in stem cell therapies for acute, as well as chronic conditions.
Research Program a Success in Mouse Stem Cells
Dr. Joel Lawitts microinjects CRISPR/Cas “gene editing” enzymes into mouse eggs to neutralize two genes at once: (1) the gene that leads to tissue rejection, and (2) the gene that allows HIV infection of cells. These are the first steps in generating off-the-shelf stem cells for everybody that are also resistant to HIV infection.
“Dr. Kiessling and her staff have shown their determination to tackle some of the most difficult health problems of our time.”
– Representative Ken Gordon
From the Director
The derivation of gene edited, universal human stem cells from unfertilized eggs will be controversial, perhaps more so now following the reports from China of “Gene editing” of human embryos (see Science Highlights).
Fortunately, we have meritorious individuals serving as our Ethics Advisory Board, our Human Subjects Committee and our Stem Cell Research Oversight Committee. Their guidance has helped us forge ahead into areas of stem cell development that larger institutions have shied away from because the work cannot be funded by our federal government. The “Dickey-Wicker Amendment” to the budget of the National Institutes of Health has been renewed annually and prohibits funds to be used for studies of unfertilized human eggs. We have for years believed unfertilized eggs (“parthenotes”) will be a broadly applicable source of “universal” human stem cells for everybody. Since human egg research MUST be privately funded, research progress depends entirely on private donations.
With over 30 years of research experience in human egg biology and stem cell derivation, BRF scientists are uniquely qualified to push this exciting field forward, and we need everyone’s support! Our goals for 2019 include using the research findings we have made in unfertilized mouse eggs in 2016 and 2017 toward similar studies with unfertilized human eggs. The single copy of each chromosome in unfertilized eggs can be gene edited to eliminate the major protein on the surface of cells that causes tissues to be rejected following transplantation. Such “universal donor” stem cells can then be used to treat acute conditions, such as heart attack, spinal cord injury, and stroke, as well as chronic conditions, such as Parkinson’s Disease, diabetes, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, Hutington’s Disease. We won’t know the full therapeutic potential of human parthenote stem cells until the cells are actually derived. We need everyone’s help to accomplish this goal!
Ann A Kiessling, PhD
Director, Bedford Research Foundation
Who is Bedford Research Foundation?
Philanthropy Is The Key To Continued Progress
The average cost of each experiment is $90,000. Because much of our overhead is covered by fee-for-service laboratory tests, 92% of every dollar donated goes directly toward these experiments. This innovative funding model allows Bedford Research scientists greater flexibility to move quickly in promising new research directions.
Continued Progress requires meeting our annual funding goal of $450,000 in 2019.