BRF scientists are pursuing two types of research to derive pluripotent stem cells, and two lines of research utilizing embryonic stem cell lines developed at Harvard University to develop urgently needed cell types in the laboratory.
Patient-Specific, Pluripotent Stem Cells from Testis
Recent reports of the derivation of patient-specific, pluripotent stem cells from testis biopsies indicate a readily available source of stem cells for men (6,7,8). Bedford Research scientists will begin testing the efficiency of pluripotent stem cell derivation from testis biopsies, as soon as funding is available. Once the stem cell lines are derived, they need to be tested for pluripotency, stability and safety. They will be compared with all other known sources of human pluripotent stem cells.
Pluripotent Stem Cells from Parthenotes
Unfertilized human eggs activated in the laboratory, termed “parthenotes,” can divide into stem cells with the capacity to develop into any body tissue type.
In 2001, BRF trustee, Dr. Jose Cibelli, used monkey eggs to report the first derivation of primate parthenote stem cells. Scientists throughout the world are now using the monkey parthenote stem cells for various studies, including one that alleviates Parkinson’s disease in a monkey model. Dr. Cibelli and BRF Director, Dr. Ann Kiessling, extended this work to human eggs in 2002. Their pioneering research showed that like monkey eggs, human eggs could be activated in the lab to divide into many cells, giving hope that a line of human parthenote stem cells could be developed.
Advancements in Stem Cell Growth & Culture
As the Foundation pursues the development of the above two types of stem cells, we are making great strides in advancing what is known about the growth and culture of stem cells.
Circadian Rhythms in Stem Cells
Scientists have for years been frustrated in their efforts to grow the trillions of adult stem cells needed for therapies, which is why embryonic stem cells seem promising — they can multiply endlessly and also develop into any cell in the body. Dr. Kiessling (foundation director), published (Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics) that early human embryo cells express CLOCK, and other circadian genes, that other human cells growing in laboratories did not. This was a surprise. And further research into the expression and control of these circadian genes will be seminal to deriving stable lines of stem cells.