Innovative Stem Cells for EVERY Body

Bedford Research scientists are launching research to derive new stem cells from unfertilized human eggs.  These cells, termed “parthenote” stem cells, are being developed to fulfill the need for “off the shelf” stem cell treatments, similar to emergency transfusion with blood bank blood.

The past decade of discoveries by BRF scientists provide the ground work for the new research initiative. Parthenote stem cells have the potential to develop into all the types of cells needed for therapies:  neurons, heart muscle, insulin-producing cells, bone marrow and cartilage cells.

New, exciting gene editing technologies have been successfully used by BRF scientists to remove the HIV-receptor (the protein on the cell surface the virus uses to infect the cell) in mouse eggs as a model system.  These recent results pave the way to continue the work in human eggs to create parthenote stem cells resistant to infection by HIV, offering the possibility of a cure  for HIV/AIDS.  The proof of principle of this approach was reported several years ago when an HIV-infected man was cured following a bone marrow transplant with stem cells from a person naturally missing the receptor for HIV.

The same gene editing technology can also be used to decrease stem cell rejection after transplantation, for example, at the site of a spinal cord injury to help prevent permanent paralysis.  Stem cells that could be universally accepted for “off the shelf” treatments of acute spinal cord injury or heart attack are exciting possibilities.

BRF scientists believe that a bank of stem cells will not only be valuable treatments for acute injuries, but also for chronic conditions, such as diabetes, Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease and chronic spinal cord injury.  Such stem cell lines are also proving to be valuable models for understanding the development of cancers, such as prostate cancer and leukemia.

Read more in the fall 2015 Newsletter!

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