Meet our new board members!

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.

Meet Dr. Aparajita Chatterjee

Dr. Aparajita Chatterjee Dr Chatterjee, a Bedford resident, joins us from Boston Medical Center where she conducted infectious disease research for six years. A skilled molecular biologist and cell culture expert, she is spearheading the work to identify and characterize successful gene silencing in our mouse model parthenote stem cells. We are fortunate to have her.

Research Update: induced pluripotent stem cells

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,” orpasted-image 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.

 

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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!

Bedford Research Launches New Stem Cell Program

Dr. Joel Lawitts microinjects gene editing enzymes into unfertilized mouse eggs to neutralize a major histocompatibility gene that leads to tissue rejection in unmatched individuals. This is the first step in generating off-the-shelf stem cells for everybody.

“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

It is finally all coming together… My career in reproductive biology and AIDS began in 1983, with the goal of understanding the influence of viruses on early embryo development. Wonderful young scientists joined my laboratory for periods of training during the ensuing 33 years, and together we have made many discoveries that bring our laboratory skills to where they are today. We now have the foundation to begin to generate off-the-shelf stem cells for everybody.

Additionally, because we are a nimble institution, we were able to quickly change research direction to take advantage of a new technology, reported in 2013, that allows unprecedented precision in silencing genes. This advance has two immediately practical applications for our “off-the-shelf” stem cell research goals:

(1) It is now feasible to specifically silence the genes responsible for the proteins on cells that cause immune rejection. Just as Type “O” blood can be administered to almost everyone, such a neutralized cell could be transplanted into many individuals without leading to immune rejection. This would be a major step forward in generating “off-the-shelf” stem cells for everybody. Our successful experiments in mouse eggs pave the way to translate the work to stem cells from human eggs. Like blood banks, such a stem cell bank could be available in emergency rooms for acute treatments, such as heart attack, stroke and spinal cord injury.

(2) It is also feasible to replicate the natural mutation in 1% of humans that renders individuals resistant to infection by HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. The ability to precisely silence this gene without causing other changes in the cell, in the same way it is naturally inactivated in 1% of humans, paves the way to deriving a library of stem cells resistant to HIV infection. IF those cells can be developed into bone marrow stem cells, and IF those bone marrow stem cells will function normally, they could be utilized as a powerful treatment, perhaps a cure, for HIV disease.

To help guide the work, we have meritorious individuals serving as our Ethics Advisory Board, our Human Subjects Committee and our Stem Cell Research Oversight Committee. Their guidance has allowed us to 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 is 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 human stem cells.

Human egg research MUST be privately funded, progress depends entirely on private donations. No federal dollars can be used to study activated human eggs or parthenote stem cells. BRF is uniquely positioned to push this exciting field forward! Thank you for your continued support.

Ann A Kiessling, PhD
Director, Bedford Research Foundation

BRF Wraps Up Community Consulting Teams (CCT) Project

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.

BRF Open Houses in the News

Dr. Lawitts demonstration

Dr. Lawitts demonstrates injection of mouse eggs.

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:

Bedford Research Foundation opens new stem cell research facility (wickedlocal.com)

Bedford Research Foundation Opens Its New Research Facility to the Public (bedfordcitizen.com)

INFORMER: Noodles, theater, research, and a seed library (The Boston Globe)

Bedford Research Foundation comes home to Bedford (patch.com)

Bedford Research Foundation Open House Next Week!

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.

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