Sanford-Burnham will co-host the 9th annual World Stem Cell Summit December 4-6, 2013, in San Diego, together with The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), Genetics Policy Institute (GPI), Mayo Clinic, Kyoto University Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences (iCeMS), and California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). The large, multi-disciplinary conference features more than 170 experts, who will discuss the latest scientific discoveries, business models, translational issues, legal and regulatory solutions, and best practices.
Napoleone Ferrara, Ph.D., was propelled into the national spotlight last week, when he was named one of 11 winners of the first Breakthrough Prizes in Life Sciences. This new prize—awarding a no-strings-attached $3 million to each recipient—was bestowed by Silicon Valley innovators Sergey Brin, Anne Wojcicki, Mark Zuckerberg and Yuri Milner. One goal of the prize is to make household names out of the country’s top scientists.
New collaboration combines Sanford-Burnham’s renowned scientific team and Intrexon’s proprietary discovery platforms to accelerate human induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) research
Today, we announced a new collaboration with Intrexon Corporation, a leading synthetic biology company, aimed at accelerating stem cell research. Under the agreement, Sanford-Burnham will gain access to sophisticated proprietary cellular selection and gene regulation technologies that are not currently on the market, including Intrexon’s Laser-Enabled Analysis and Processing (LEAP™) instrument and RheoSwitch Therapeutic System® (RTS®). As part of the agreement, Intrexon may obtain commercial and intellectual property rights resulting from technological advances made under the collaboration.
“I’m looking forward to merging and melding our expertise,” said Evan Y. Snyder, M.D., Ph.D., professor and director of Sanford-Burnham’s Stem Cell Research Center and Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology Program. “We’ll bring our iPSC and gene therapy expertise to the table. Likewise, our colleagues at Intrexon will share their knowledge of how best to use the technologies. We envision we’ll be meeting with them frequently and sharing insights to further advance the platforms for stem cell applications.”
Sanford-Burnham is currently building the world’s largest collection of human iPSCs generated from individual patients and healthy volunteers. The Stem Cell Research Center’s expertise and resources are available to all Sanford-Burnham scientists, as well as other researchers at nonprofit and for-profit research organizations around the world.
In 11 independent studies, a consortium of ALS researchers shows that transplanting neural stem cells into the spinal cord of an ALS mouse model slows disease onset and progression, improves motor function, and significantly prolongs survival.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is untreatable and fatal. Nerve cells in the spinal cord die, eventually taking away a person’s ability to move or even breathe. A consortium of ALS researchers at multiple institutions, including Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the University of Massachusetts Medical School, tested transplanted neural stem cells as a treatment for the disease. In 11 independent studies, they found that transplanting neural stem cells into the spinal cord of a mouse model of ALS slows disease onset and progression. This treatment also improves host motor function and significantly prolongs survival.
Surprisingly, the transplanted neural stem cells did not benefit ALS mice by replacing deteriorating nerve cells. Instead, neural stem cells help by producing factors that preserve the health and function of the host’s remaining nerve cells. They also reduce inflammation and suppress the number of disease-causing cells in the host’s spinal cord. These findings, published December 19 in Science Translational Medicine, demonstrate the potential neural stem cells hold for treating ALS and other nervous system disorders.
“While not a cure for human ALS, we believe that the careful transplantation of neural stem cells, particularly into areas that can best sustain life—respiratory control centers, for example—may be ready for clinical trials,” Evan Y. Snyder, M.D., Ph.D., director of Sanford-Burnham’s Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology Program and senior author of the study.
Some of the world’s premier stem cell researchers will engage in a spirited discussion of what’s happening right now in stem cell research on October 15 in New Orleans. Sponsored by EMD Millipore, the 9th Annual Christopher Reeve Hot Topics in Stem Cell Biology gathering will be held in conjunction with Neuroscience 2012, the Society for Neuroscience’s annual meeting. Throughout the evening, each researcher will highlight a single research topic followed by a brief discussion. This unique, rapid-fire forum moves beyond the scientific stump speech to showcase the state-of-the-art in stem cell research.
What: 9th Annual Hot Topics in Stem Cell Biology satellite symposium, dedicated to the life and work of Christopher Reeve. Click here to download the agenda.
When: Monday, October 15, 6:30 to 10:00 p.m.
Where: Neuroscience 2012, Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans, Rooms 343-345
Who: Hot Topics is open to the public. You do not need to register for Neuroscience 2012 to attend this satellite symposium.
Twitter: Tweeting from Hot Topics or just wish you were? Follow @SanfordBurnham, @Neurosci2012, and #sfn12.
More info: Contact Lisa O’Brien at email@example.com
Congratulations to John B. Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka on winning the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine! They received the award today for their “discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent.” In other words, these scientists figured out how to turn a normal adult cell, such as a skin cell, into a stem cell that has the potential to become any other type of cell in the body. Read below to learn more about stem cells and how they are revolutionizing medical research.
What are stem cells?
Stem cells are special because each is like a blank slate. Once it’s given the proper instruction, a stem cell can specialize and become any type of cell in the body—brain, heart, muscle, and more. Stem cells also have the ability to reproduce themselves indefinitely, renewing the supply.
Are there different types of stem cells?
Embryonic stem cells only exist during an organism’s development, when it is an embryo. These cells are pluripotent, meaning they have the capacity to become any cell type in the body.
Adult stem cells exist in fully developed organisms. They are more limited than embryonic stem cells—they are multipotent rather than pluripotent. These stem cells usually can only become a few types of specialized cells, based on the tissue from which they originate.
Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are pluripotent, much like embryonic stem cells. iPSCs are produced in the laboratory by genetically reprogramming any adult cell, such as a skin cell.
What: Stem Cell Awareness Day
When: October 3, 2012, 5:30-6:30 p.m.
Where: Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine, 2880 North Torrey Pines Rd., La Jolla, Calif. 92037
Who should attend: members of the community, patient advocates, patients, caregivers, teachers, students, and anyone else interested in discussing the latest news on clinical trials with trained scientists and doctors trying to treat disease and injury using stem cells
RSVP: contact Jennifer Braswell at firstname.lastname@example.org or(858)246-1073
Last week, Dr. Evan Snyder, director of Sanford-Burnham’s stem cell program, gave a talk at an event held by the San Diego Biotechnology Network. North County Times reporter Bradley Fikes was there, and he captured it beautifully. Read his article and watch the video here: “Where stem cell research now stands in helping patients”
In the piece, Mr. Fikes lists the five main points he took away from the talk:
Join the San Diego Biotechnology Network (SDBN) and Sanford-Burnham at the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine (a “collaboratory” made up of researchers from Sanford-Burnham and four other San Diego research institutions) for a fun evening of science and networking…and hopefully a spectacular sunset.
What: SDBN August 21st event at the Sanford Consortium For Regenerative Medicine
Speaker: Evan Snyder, M.D., Ph.D., director of Sanford-Burnham’s Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology Program and member of the Sanford Consortium, will give a brief overview of cell-based therapies underway at the consortium.
When: Tuesday, August 21st 2012, 5:30-8:30 p.m.
Where: Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine, 2880 Torrey Pines Scenic Drive, La Jolla
Who’s invited: Life science researchers and professionals in the greater San Diego area
Cost: $15/10 (Academic), dinner and drinks provided
Directions: From I-5, exit Genesee heading West, travel for a little less than a mile, then turn left on North Torrey Pines Road. Travel for a little less than a half mile, and the Sanford Consortium will be on your right (West) at the corner of Torrey Pines Scenic Drive. Free parking is available in the West lot – the gate will open upon approach.
Sanford-Burnham is grateful to prominent San Diego philanthropist and businessman Andrew Viterbi, his wife Erna, and their family, who recently presented us with a $1 million gift to establish the Neuroscience Research Initiative.
Dr. John C. Reed, Sanford-Burnham CEO and the Donald Bren Chief Executive Chair, and Dr. Evan Y. Snyder, director of the Institute’s Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology Program, will lead the research. Combining expertise in cellular behavior and innovative stem cell research, their collaboration is an example of Sanford-Burnham’s cross-disciplinary approach to medical science.
Xconomy—a network of blogs, events, and other initiatives—is all about the business of technology and innovation. “Xconomists” are industry thought leaders who share their ideas and expertise on Xconomy. Last week, Dr. Evan Snyder, director of Sanford-Burnham’s stem cell program and research center, was featured as “Xconomist of the Week.” Dr. Snyder is regarded as one of the fathers of the stem cell field, particularly with regard to applying stem cells to regenerate and repair diseased and damaged tissue. He was among the first to identify neural stem cells and generated the first transplantable human neural stem cells. He also revealed the concept of stem cell pathotropism (the ability of stem cells to home in on injured or diseased regions of the brain), was the first to demonstrate their ability to deliver therapeutic genes and engage in cell replacement, and discovered that stem cells can intervene to promote cellular survival.
May is Mental Health Month and last week the International Bipolar Foundation (IBPF) hosted former U.S. Representative Patrick Kennedy for a Scientific Think Tank held in Del Mar, Calif. Kennedy served 16 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he sponsored the Mental Health Parity & Addiction Equity Act of 2008, a piece of legislation that provides access to mental health treatment for millions of Americans who were previously denied care. More recently, he co-founded the One Mind for Research campaign, an effort to bring together all stakeholders to accelerate basic research, translational science, and care delivery for brain disease.
“Patient advocates: this is our day!” Lorraine Stiehl shouted, rallying the crowed assembled on November 29 to witness the grand opening of the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine, a new 150,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art research facility located in the Torrey Pines Mesa life science research cluster in La Jolla, a northern coastal area of San Diego, Calif.
Ms. Stiehl is a patient advocate coordinator for the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), the $3 billion stem cell agency created after California voters approved ballot measure Prop 71 in 2004. CIRM, and patient advocates like Ms. Stiehl, have played a huge role in bringing the Sanford Consortium to fruition. CIRM contributed $43 million to the project and patients are the reason that the consortium’s scientists are doing what they do—working to advance our understanding of stem cell biology and ultimately find new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and many other conditions.
“You see 150,00 square feet of new research space,” Ms. Stiehl continued. “We see 150,000 square feet of hope, 150,000 square feet of empowerment.”
Some of the world’s premier stem cell researchers will engage in a spirited discussion of what’s happening right now in stem cell research on Monday, November 14 at 6:30 p.m. at the Washington, D.C. Convention Center. Sponsored by EMD Millipore, the 8th Annual Christopher Reeve Hot Topics in Stem Cell Biology gathering will be held in conjunction with Neuroscience 2011, the Society for Neuroscience’s annual meeting. Throughout the evening, each researcher will highlight a single research topic followed by a brief discussion. This unique, rapid-fire forum moves beyond the scientific stump speech to showcase the state-of-the-art in stem cell research.
Medscape, a physician-oriented website run by WebMD, visited Sanford-Burnham’s La Jolla campus this summer to record interviews with researchers from both Orlando and San Diego for a new online video program called Developments to Watch. The talk show-like discussions are hosted by Dr. Evan Snyder, who directs the Stem Cells and Regenerative Biology Program at Sanford-Burnham. The first episode, A New Frontier in Alzheimer’s Disease, is now available. In the video, Dr. Snyder speaks with Dr. Stuart Lipton, director of the Del E. Webb Center for Neuroscience, Aging, and Stem Cell Research, about his work on Alzheimer’s disease. They discuss what new findings—and potential treatments—are on the horizon and how they might impact patients.
A user name and password are required to access Medscape, but the site and content are free. New installments will be added monthly.
Watch the video, then come back here to let us know what you think!
For more about our research on Alzheimer’s disease, check out these blog posts:
Getting to the root of Alzheimer’s disease
Diagnosing Alzheimer’s Earlier
New Partnership Targets Brain Conditions
Safely Treating Alzheimer’s Disease
Saying NO to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases