Study of Human Central Nervous System Stem Cells (HuCNS-SC) in Patients With Thoracic Spinal Cord Injury

StemCells Inc. is conducting a Phase I/II clinical trial of human central nervous system stem cells (HuCNS-SC) therapy in Switzerland, at the Balgrist University Hospital, University of Zurich, in order to determine if the single dose intramedullary transplantation of HuCNS-SC cells in the thoracic spinal cord is both safe and efficient in treating patients with sub-acute spinal cord injury.

This study will enroll 12 patients between the age of 18 years and 60 years, who suffered the injury at least 6 weeks prior to screening for inclusion in this study—based on the American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) level determination assessed by the principal investigator: Dr. Armin Curt, MD.

The main endpoint being to assess safety and efficiency of one dose, the number of patient seems right since age, gender, duration of injury and ethnic backgrounds are not real variables—making the results of this study statistically significant. However, it is a single group experiment with open label, which means that the placebo effect is not taken into account (I guess it is appropriate in this case?). It is good to remember that this study is very preliminary.

Furthermore, the study subjects will receive immunosuppression for nine months following transplantation in order to minimize rejection and will be followed for one year following transplantation and then will be enrolled in a separate long-term follow-up study for an additional four years. There are further safety issues for the patients that the researchers might want to include in their study, the environment the patients will be in for the duration of receiving immunosuppressants; it could affect results.

This study is very promising and might open new doors to treating spinal cord injury–I am impatient to find out what happens.

Stem Cells from Fat Show Promise in Treatment of Brain Cancer

Very interesting article from JHU hub:

Cells may give clinicians new way to chase migrating cancer, Johns Hopkins researchers say. Johns Hopkins researchers have found that stem cells from a patient’s own fat may be able to deliver new treatments directly into the brain after removal of the most common and aggressive form of brain tumor.

The stem cells, called mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), have the ability to seek out damaged cells, investigators say, such as those involved in cancer, and may provide clinicians a new tool for accessing difficult-to-reach parts of the brain where cancer cells can hide and proliferate. Harvesting these stem cells from fat is less invasive and less expensive than getting them from bone marrow, a more commonly studied method, researchers say.

Results of the laboratory study are described online in the journal PLOS ONE.

“The biggest challenge in brain cancer is the migration of cancer cells,” says study leader Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa, professor of neurosurgery, oncology, and neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “Even when we remove the tumor, some of the cells have already slipped away and are causing damage somewhere else. Building off our findings, we may be able to find a way to arm a patient’s own healthy cells with the treatment needed to chase down those cancer cells and destroy them. It’s truly personalized medicine.”

 Currently, standard treatments for glioblastoma, the most common and aggressive form of brain tumor, are chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery, but even a combination of all three rarely leads to more than 18 months of survival after diagnosis. Glioblastoma tumor cells are particularly nimble, migrating across the entire brain and establishing new tumors. This migratory capability is thought to be a key reason for the low cure rate of this tumor type.

“Essentially these MSCs are like a ‘smart’ device that can track cancer cells,” Quinones-Hinojosa says.

First human trial of hiPSC!

First human trial of induced pluripotent stem cells! In Japan, Takahashi’s team is currently in the process to get final approval to recruit 6 patients suffering from age-related macular degeneration. The team will remove damaged pigment epithelium and then implant a small sheet of new epithelium, created by coaxing hiPSC to become epithelium cells.

You can read the news here

hESC research and trials are not dead in the U.S.!

Do you remember Geron, the U.S. company to have run the first hESC-derived cells clinical trial where during phase 1 they had treated five acute spinal cord injury patients? The same company that had to discontinue their trials in November 2011 incurring  the outrage of many people? Well BioTime acquired Geron’s stem cell program and has decided to move forward with the clinical trials given the positive results obtained from these five patients.