The latest headlines include a chronicle of our milestones over the past 20 years, news about our stem cell program with gene editing, Universal Mouse Model Stem Cell Resistant To HIV Infection, our prostate disease research, a new staff member, a new board member and more exciting new growth at our Bedford office.
With the help of generous philanthropists and medical collaborators, Dr. Ann Kiessling founded the Bedford Research Foundation in 1996 to address a research need that could not be federally funded — how to help men infected by HIV through tainted blood transfusions have children without infecting their wives and babies. The first “Special Program for Assisted Reproduction,” or SPAR baby was born in 1998. Ryan Schlosser, now 16 years old, visited the Bedford Research lab last summer. As of September, 2015, 246 babies SPAR babies have been born with all moms and babies testing negative for HIV.
In 1999, BRF responded to a new research need that could not be federally funded — the derivation of stem cells from unfertilized human eggs. Bedford Research scientists spear-headed the world’s first ethics advisory board and medical team charged with the task of developing the “gold standard” for women volunteering to donate their eggs for research.
To be clinically feasible, at least 10% of activated, unfertilized human eggs must successfully develop into stem cells. When initial experiments failed to reach this goal, BRF scientists collaborated with colleagues in Greece to discover what genes must be activate in unfertilized eggs to reach the 10% efficiency needed. Our results, published in three landmark reports, have led to the information needed to resume the research. As described in the cover story, the work will need eggs donated by women for research, a controversial topic being considered by BRF ethicists.
Human egg research must be privately funded. Due to the National Institutes of Health budget no federal dollars can be used to study activated human eggs, or parthenote stem cells. Bedford Research is uniquely positioned to push this field forward, and needs to add two additional scientists in 2016 to optimize progress. Progress depends entirely on private donations.
Check out more news in the BRF Fall 2015 Newsletter.
The Bedford Research Foundation welcomes two new board members to the Board of Trustees: Larry LaFranchi, Ellen Sheehy and Scott Anderson.
Larry LaFranchi brings more than 30 years of business and entrepreneurial experience. His passion for health care and is a perfect match for the Foundation’s independent research goals, and his expertise in financial planning and consulting will benefit all aspects of research planning.
Ellen Sheehy is an experienced, analytical entrepreneur with broad experience in strategy development and implementation. She has been a leader in the field of nonprofit healthcare for many years.
Scott Anderson is an experienced computer developer and technical science writer. He co-authored Human Embryonic Stem Cells with Dr. Kiessling.
Check out more news from the BRF Fall 2015 Newsletter.
This past year BRF helped sponsor a research fellow, Sebastian Bernabe, in Andulacia, Spain’s new stem cell research center. Formerly a research fellow with Foundation Trustee Dr. Jose Cibelli at Michigan State University, Dr. Bernabe joined the spinal cord research team developed with Spanish scientists Dr. Cibelli and Dr. Philip Horner. The goal of the research was to test the safety of another innovative stem cell, “induced pluripotent stem cells,” or IPS cells. These cells are derived from skin biopsies and were used to treat spinal cord injury in a rat model system.
The transplant was performed Oct 28, 2015 after several years of research. It will take months before results are known.
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!
Check out these headlines from the fall 2015 newsletter:
Or download the full newsletter here: BRF Fall 2015 Stem Cell Research Newsletter
And check out: our latest milestones brochure!
For the past several months Bedford Research Foundation has been working with Community Consulting Teams (www.cctboston.org) to complete a Strategic Assessment designed to help the foundation strengthen and improve communications surrounding both short and long term research projects. As part of this process, CCT has assisted the BRF in studying the potential future impacts of the work the foundation is doing. On June 9th, BRF and its team of 15 CCT MBA’s will join other organizations CCT has been working with this session to wrap up the BRF project and present findings.
Foundation Director Dr. Ann Kiessling and BRF staff are very grateful for the help and support of this wonderful organization. Below is an excerpt from CCT’s most recent newsletter:
Cutting-Edge Research to Cure Disease (BRF)
CCT is using the varied skills and backgrounds of its consultants to provide a situational assessment of the Bedford Research Foundation (BRF) to inform its strategic plan and future growth. The team is focused on understanding BRF’s mission, history, and current operations by speaking with stakeholders including staff, board members, and funders. In addition, the team is analyzing BRF financials, identifying analogous organizations to determine successful models for growth, and researching potential funding sources.
A few weeks ago, Bedford Research Foundation hosted two open houses celebrating the foundation’s move to it’s new research facility at 124 South Road in Bedford, MA. The first event was geared toward local businesses and had over 30 attendees including companies from Bedford, surrounding communities, and local residents. The second event on Saturday, May 1st was open to the public and was attended by more than 60 residents and friends of the foundation. Senator Mike Barrett, Representative Ken Gordon, and Bedford Research Foundation Director Dr. Ann Kiessling cut the ribbon on BRF’s new research facility. Barrett and Gordon expressed excitement at seeing the foundation finally “come home” to Bedford after more than 15 years in Somerville.
Both events also provided a significant amount of visibility for the foundation, including coverage by local media outlets like The Boston Globe and The Bedford Minuteman. We at BRF are excited to share these articles with you here:
INFORMER: Noodles, theater, research, and a seed library (The Boston Globe)
The Bedford Research Foundation (BRF) is hosting two open houses Thursday, April 30 from 5:30 – 8:00 pm, and Saturday, May 2 from 4:00 – 6:00 pm for local residents and members of the biomedical, healthcare, and manufacturing industries. The event is open to the public and includes a short presentation by foundation director, Dr. Ann Kiessling, as well as demonstrations and tours of the foundation’s new space at 124 South Road, Bedford, MA. Meet staff and board members and find out more about the many exciting projects currently underway. Representative Ken Gordon and senator Mike Barrett will be on hand for the ribbon cutting ceremony.
Bedford Research Foundation is a not-for-profit biomedical institute conducting stem cell and related research to help find cures for diseases presently considered incurable. In the words of board member Victoria Staebler,:
“The stem cell research that BRF is doing is laying the foundation for regenerative cell therapy that could potentially cure not only spinal cord injury victims like him [sic], but an incredible range of diseases, from Parkinson’s to bone marrow cancer.”
Bedford Research Foundation is proud of its many innovative projects in stem cell growth and culture, programs targeted at diseases like prostatitis and prostate cancer, and services for couples living with infectious disease.
Visitors are encouraged to meet foundation representatives, tour the new BRF research and laboratory facility, and learn more about stem cell research – what it is, how far it’s come, and where it needs to go from here.
About Bedford Research Foundation
BRF has been doing cost-effective research to high standards for almost 20 years, demonstrating that individuals can make a huge difference in areas traditionally dominated by universities or government agencies. More information is available on the web at www.bedfordresearch.org/open-house.
From The Bedford Citizen:
The Bedford Research Foundation (BRF), a Massachusetts not-for-profit organization conducting stem cell research for diseases currently considered chronic or incurable, has moved it’s research and laboratory facility to Bedford Massachusetts after being located in Somerville for over 15 years.Read More›