Monthly Archives: August 2011

Doctors use stem cells extracted from fat to create new bone tissue

WBAL – Researchers in Maryland are using stem cells from fat to grow new bone.

In January 2009, 53-year-old Susan Cossabone was in a terrible head-on collision. Her injuries made her fear that she’d never walk again, much less ride her beloved horses at her horse farm in New Jersey.

“I thought I would lose the leg. If you could have seen it when they cut off my favorite jeans — you could just see bones sticking and flesh. You couldn’t see much of a leg,” she said.

For a while, it looked as though her leg would require amputation, doctors said.

But Cossabone finally saw Mercy Medical Center’s world-renowned foot and ankle specialist Dr. Mark Myerson, who gave her a different diagnosis.

“When you have limited blood circulation coming to the bone — limited capacity for healing and limited ability for the body to produce new bone — we have to stimulate it,” Myerson said.

Myerson said he used Allostem on Cossabone.

Allostem is a product made from stem cells extracted from fat from a cadaver, and those cells are electronically manipulated to develop into bone.

“It’s a collagen sponge onto which stem cells have been attached. When you implant that sponge in the body, it will produce bone,” he said.

Cossabone said since then, she’s gotten some of her strength back.

“I’m getting on my feet 15-20 minutes at a stretch and teaching in the ring again,” she said.

She’ll also have to wear a small lift in one shoe.

She said her goal is to be released and get back on her horses.


Written by

Kevin Held


Cord Blood Saves Man with Bone Cancer

March 18, 2011



Cancer survivor Wayne Taylor and his brother Todd Taylor (Photo Demoines Register)

Todd Taylor, a democratic state lawmaker is fiercely pushing for a law that would allow Iowa mothers to donate their umbilical cords to public banks. It was because of a donated umbilical cord of an Australian newborn that Todd’s brother Wayne who suffered from blood cancer is on the road to recovery.

A doctor in Florida and a father of three, Wayne Taylor was 52 years old when he was detected with blood cancer. The cancer was spreading rapidly and all efforts to find a possible bone marrow transplant match failed.

“He was marching toward the end,” said Todd.

In 1993 Todd and his three siblings lost their mother to blood cancer. The siblings did not match for a bone marrow donation. A registry did find a match eventually for Wayne but the women was disqualified when she became pregnant.

Then the family got news from a match with an Australian newborn whose mother was willing to donate the umbilical cord to a public cord saving bank. When the baby was born the umbilical cord was shipped to Tampa and on January 19 Wayne underwent cord blood transplantation.

Now Todd hopes that Iowa will pass a law, like 20 other states in the US,  that will allow new mothers to donate their newborn’s umbilical cord to public banks. Currently, there are 30 public banks in the United States.

According to Colleen Chapleau, administrator of the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics’ bone marrow transplant program the nearest public bank for people of Iowa is in St. Louis. “A physician collects the umbilical cord blood in a special kit that’s stored frozen until it’s shipped to a patient who needs it”

Umbilical cells are collected only after a healthy baby is delivered unlike embryonic stem cells that are harvested from a fetus.

These cells can be used to treat a number of ailments including cancer, heart and liver disease, multiple sclerosis and diabetes. In the US more than 80, 000 people have received cord blood cell transplantation according to Zina Cary, national director of state affairs from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

For cancer patients who undergo chemotherapy or radiation treatments, their body’s fighter white blood cells get killed destroying their immune system. With the help of the new transplanted stem cells these patients can get any kind of cells, including the white blood cells and a healthy marrow.

“There is a trade-off: A mother who gives away her baby’s umbilical cord sacrifices preserving it to treat potential future illnesses of that child, a sibling or another family member. But private cord banks cost more than $1,000, while donation to a public bank is free”, Cary said.

Clinical trial at Georgia Health Sciences University uses cord blood to ease cerebral palsy symptoms

Allison Thurman, a 2-year-old with cerebral palsy, sits on father Mike Thurman's lap before an appointment with pediatric neurologist Elizabeth Sekul at the Medical College of Georgia Children's Medical Center. She has made speech improvements.   Sara Caldwell/Staff


With a black bow in her hair and Old McDonald Had a Farm wafting from a portable DVD player, Allison Thurman leaned against her father, Mike, in the chair and yawned Friday as fluid dripped from clear bags into her IV. The 2-year-old might be getting back a tiny piece of herself that could aid her development and help overcome cerebral palsy.

Allison Thurman, a 2-year-old with cerebral palsy, sits on father Mike Thurman’s lap before an appointment with pediatric neurologist Elizabeth Sekul at the Medical College of Georgia Children’s Medical Center. She has made speech improvements.

The Thurmans, of St. Clair Shores, Mich., are taking part in a randomized clinical trial at Georgia Health Sciences University to see whether Allison’s cord blood — the blood from the umbilical cord and placenta left over at birth — is safe and can help ease symptoms of cerebral palsy.

When the trial began last year, it was the only one of its type in the country, but there has since been a similar trial launched at Duke University.

The work follows on the heels of work in animal models with mature stem cells by Dr. James Carroll, the chief of child neurology at GHSU.

“We’ve shown that stem cells, adult-type stem cells, are effective in improving the course of brain injury in the animals,” Carroll said. “In all of those experiments, we used the treatment within a week or so of injury.”

Allison is one of six children who have begun the clinical trial, which started about a year and a half ago. Interest in the trial is high — about five or six calls come in each week — but the children who qualify are a small percentage of those, Carroll said. Many of the parents have not banked the child’s cord blood or are trying to use a sibling’s cord blood, which doesn’t meet the study’s criteria.

Part of the problem is that the American Academy of Pediatrics came out in 2007 against privately banking a child’s cord blood for possible use by the child later, Carroll said, which could be limiting the potential pool.

The Thurmans had banked the cord blood of their first daughter, Audrey, 4, and decided to do Allison’s, too.

“Just as an insurance policy,” Mike Thurman said.

They began noticing early on that Allison wasn’t hitting her developmental milestones; for instance, at 9 months, she couldn’t sit up by herself, something she still struggles to do. Allison was diagnosed and started treatment when she was a year old, and the Thurmans started looking on the Internet for help, mother Erica Thurman said.

“We were prepared to go overseas,” her husband said. Then they found the GHSU clinical trial and brought Allison for her first infusion.

The trial is “blinded,” so neither the parents nor the doctors know whether the cord blood or a placebo is being used, but at the second infusion three months later it is reversed so the child does get the cells in one of those two visits, Carroll said.

Allison was evaluated by child neurologist Elizabeth Sekul before her second dosing.

“Have you seen any big jumps or anything with it?” Sekul said as she entered the exam room at the Medical College of Georgia Children’s Medical Center, where Allison will get her second infusion.

“The biggest thing immediately when we got home was speech,” Mike Thurman said.

“What happened with speech?” Sekul asked.

“Her vocabulary seemed to dramatically increase,” he said.

In fact, she graduated from speech therapy a month after her first infusion and tested at higher than her age-level, Erica Thurman said.

“We hope she’ll be able to walk, sooner rather than later,” Mike Thurman said.

“To be a normal active child,” his wife said.

They can’t help but look for signs of improvement after their visits.

“You can drive yourself crazy thinking about it,” the girl’s mother said. Seated in the room watching Allison get an infusion, though, she seems hopeful.

“We feel very fortunate that we have this opportunity,” she said.

By Tom Corwin
Staff Writer
Saturday, Aug 13, 2011

Stem cells give dog chance at normal life

Procedure aims to help mistreated pit bull grow new foot pads

A pit bull that suffered severe burns when it was left outside on a rooftop in the scorching heat for 10 hours last month has been given a second chance at a normal life due to a first-of-its-kind stem-cell treatment.
A Spring Township veterinarian donated his time to perform the experimental treatment using foreign-source cells to regrow the pads on the dog’s paws, which were burned off on the hot roof, according to an official from the Animal Rescue League of Berks County.

Chris Shaughness, the ARL spokesman, said the young pit bull, dubbed Bernie by the shelter’s staff, was brought to the shelter July 19 after a Reading police officer found the dog stranded on the roof of a building in the 700 block of North Front Street.

When the dog was brought to the shelter, an examination found he also had burn marks on his spine and his nipples. Officials believe the dog received those burns by lying down on the hot roof, trying to take weight off his painful paws.

“I don’t think I’ve seen anything that bad in 25 years,” said Dr. Boyd Wagner, veterinarian and owner of the Wyomissing Animal Hospital. “They were severe, third-degree burns.”

Wagner said the shelter had brought Bernie to the animal hospital for treatment of his burned-off pads.

Wagner came up with an idea for helping Bernie: regrowing his pads with stem cells. The veterinarian had been working with Celavet Inc., a California-based biotechnology firm conducting stem-cell research in horses, cats and dogs.

Animal stem-cell research has been around for a while, but Bernie’s treatment was the first case of using another animal’s stem cells that have been programmed to grow into specialized types of cells, Wagner said.

“The stem cells increase the re-epithelialization at a faster pace and a more uniform pace,” he said, describing the natural process of growing new skin during wound healing.

In short, the pit bull would be injected with stem cells to re-grow his pads at a quicker rate.

The procedure, performed Aug. 4, was the first of its kind for a canine and required special permission from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Wagner said.

“This is a phenomenal story, to attempt to grow his paws,” Shaughness said.

Law enforcement officials are still looking for the pit bull’s owner. Crime Alert Berks County is offering a reward for information leading to the owner’s arrest,

Shaughness said Bernie has been staying at the ARL’s boarding kennel while recovering from surgery.

“We’re trying to find a foster home for him,” she said. “We don’t know the outcome of the treatment yet so we don’t want to adopt him out until he’s truly recovered.”

But while Bernie rests and recovers from the burn surgery, he will be taken back to the animal hospital periodically for progress checkups, Wagner said.

The veterinarian said it’s unknown how long it will take to know if the experimental procedure was successful.

“But he seems to be happy,” Wagner said. “He’s a tough little guy.”

Contact Rose Schneider: 610-371-5038 or

Originally Published: 8/15/2011 at

Stem Cell Shooting Gun Heals Massive Burns In Days

Treating serious burns is a time consuming process that normally takes weeks or months, leaving patients open to dangerous infections as they heal. This newly-developed stem cell shooting spray gun reduces healing time to days. Warning: Graphic video inside.

Most of the damage from serious burns doesn’t come from flames. It comes from infections brought on by a lack of protection due to damaged skin. The lengthy healing process associated with major burns can leave patients open to such infections for months, even with proper care and wound dressing.

Doctor Jörg Gerlach of the University of Pittsburgh’s McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine has created a method that has patients regenerating new skin in days using stem cells.

Now before everyone flies off the handle, these aren’t the embryonic stem cells that have been so controversial over the past decade. These are skin stem cells harvested from the patient themselves; adult stem cells.

The cells are applied via a spray mechanism over the area damaged by the burn, and the results speak for themselves in the National Geographic video below.

Again this video contains graphic images of burn wounds. You’ve been warned twice now. Sometimes science gets a little ugly.

For more fascinating advances in regenerative medicine, tune into National Geographic’s Explorer on Monday, February 7.

How to Build a Beating Heart
 [National Geographic via Reddit]


Stem Cell Therapy Holds Promise for Kidney Disease

Studies show that collected kidney cells can be reprogrammed to grow into any type of kidney cell

By Denise Mann
HealthDay Reporter 

THURSDAY, Aug. 4 (HealthDay News) — Researchers may be one step closer to harnessing the power of stem cells to help treat, and potentially cure, kidney disease.

Two new studies, both published in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, demonstrate that kidney cells can be reprogrammed to morph into other types of kidney cells needed to repair damage.

In one report, scientists out of Monash University in Australia extracted kidney cells and reprogrammed them so they could behave like other kidney cells. In a second related study, researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Guangzhou, China, collected kidney cells from urine and were also able to reprogram them.

The next step is to see if the cell lines — called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) — can be expanded, and then injected back into people with kidney disease to develop functional tissue and/or organs. While this may be years off and there are many steps left to take, the technology has the potential to cure certain hereditary forms of kidney disease and acute kidney injury, and could eliminate the need for dialysis and/or kidney transplants in some patients with end-stage kidney disease.

Dr. Ivonne Schulman, an assistant professor of clinical medicine and nephrologist at the University of Miami’s Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute in Florida, said that this is the first time that researchers have shown that kidney cells could be reprogrammed and made to behave like embryonic stem cells, meaning they have the potential to differentiate into other types of kidney cells.

“Two papers back-to-back show that two different kidney cell types are able to be reprogrammed,” she said. “This is very significant.”

The ultimate goal would be to inject these cells back into patients and try to regenerate kidney tissue, Schulman explained. “It could theoretically help all types of kidney disease,” she said. “It just depends on the ability of these cells to differentiate back into the cell types needed for that disease.”

In one of the studies, researchers were able to collect the kidney cells from urine, which means that they could be collected at anytime, eliminating the need for cell banks. “This makes it very simple,” Schulman added.

Dr. Jeffrey I. Silberzweig, co-medical director of the Rogosin Institute Manhattan Dialysis Center in New York City, said that the benefits could be exponential. “The idea that you can have the ability to do stem cell transplants during the early stage of kidney disease and regenerate the damaged part of the kidney would be a tremendous benefit for patients and the country as a whole,” he said.

The current treatment for end-stage kidney disease includes dialysis and/or kidney transplantation. Dialysis, which outsources kidney function, is uncomfortable, time-consuming and costly, he noted. Plus, “the supply of kidneys available for transplantation is way behind the number of people who need them,” Silberzweig said. Intervening earlier with stem cell therapy could prevent things from ever getting that far.

“If it reaches a point where this technology becomes practical, patients would fall over each other getting in line to do it,” Silberzweig said.

“This is a critical and important first step,” said Dr. Samuel Saltzberg, a transplant nephrologist at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. “We have quite a way to go to get to a point where we can impact kidney disease — especially in diseases when the whole organ needs to be repaired.”

In an editorial accompanying the new studies, Dr. Ian Rogers of Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto wrote that kidney disease may just be the tip of the iceberg. “The advantage of these cells for the diagnosis and treatment of kidney disease is great — but the ease of collection and the high frequency of reprogramming also means there may be benefits to urine cells for iPSC production beyond kidney disease.”

More information

Learn more about kidney disease at the National Kidney Foundation.

SOURCES: Jeffrey I. Silberzweig, M.D., co-medical director, Rogosin Institute Manhattan Dialysis Center, New York City; Samuel Saltzberg, M.D., transplant nephrologist, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago; Ivonne Schulman, M.D., assistant professor, clinical medicine, and nephrologist, University of Miami’s Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute, Miami; July 2011, Journal of the American Society of Nephrology

Last Updated: Aug. 04, 2011

Copyright © 2011 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Scientists Bag and Tag the Stem Cell That May Create An Endless Supply of Blood

Rejoice ye vampires, the pursuit of an endless supply of blood took a major leap forward this month. Researchers at the Ontario Cancer Institute, led by John Dick, have found a way to hunt down and isolate the stem cells from which your entire blood supply is derived. Until now, these hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) have been remarkably hard to track and isolate – they represent just one in every 100,000 blood cells. Yet these HSC are remarkably potent – a single cell placed in a mouse was able to differentiate itself into every type of human blood cell – from just one cell essentially came an entire blood supply! John Dick’s team was able to identify the protein code on their surface which marks the HSC as different from other blood cells. With the knowledge of how to find HSC, scientists may be able to create huge quantities of blood stem cells for research, rocketing their work ahead. Doctors may one day be able to use similar techniques to produce vast supplies of blood for patients. After fifty years of stem cell experiments, and twenty three long years of Dr. Dick working with blood stem cells, we’ve finally isolated where they all come from. It’s an exciting time in science.

“I expect we’ll have the first blueprint of the genetic program driving these stem cells within the next two years. … In five years, we’ll have the tools to expand them from human patients.”
–John Dick, Ontario Cancer Institute commenting to The Globe and Mail

The work by John Dick and his team was published in the July issue of Science. The article describes how the researchers were able to identify the CD49f protein as a key surface marker for hemotopoietic stem cells. Single CD49f HSCs were placed inside immunosupressed mice, and monitored to see how they developed. The entire spectrum of blood cells were produced, and just as important: they were self-renewing. The CD49f HSC wasn’t just creating blood, it was creating an expanding and sustaining blood supply that should theoretically survive long term in the body.

Finding the CD49f marker was like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack and represents a slow whittling down on possible candidates – work that was done not just by Dick’s team, but by many scientists over the past few decades. We’re talking about narrowing the field down from several million to about 20, and then taking some educated guesses. If Dick and colleagues are correct, the surface protein code marker could act as an ID card for the most potent of hemotopoietic stem cells, allow scientists to find them in a blood sample, isolate them, and use them to produce other multipotent stem cells and general blood cells at their leisure.

Blood stem cell holy grail 4A single HSC can become all the different types of blood cells in the human body. John Dick and his team have found a better way to identify HSC, which is sort of like finding a better way to open a bank vault. Riches are sure to follow.

The Ontario Cancer Institute’s work is still only in mouse models, so it’s best to stay cautious of these results until they can be repeated in humans (which Dick et al are likely to pursue in the next five years). Yet, even if it’s a bit premature, there’s great reasons to get excited about this work. First, Mick Bhatia at McMaster university is already working with the Ontario team to understand how the surface protein code may not only identify the HSC, but actually be used to encourage regular cells to exhibit their characteristics. In essence, with the right biomarkers it’s conceivable that many cells could be coaxed into becoming HSC. Sounds incredible, right? But Bhatia has already been able to transmogrify skin stem cells into red blood cells, so the idea isn’t that far-fetched.

Another possible (and perhaps even near term) application for the CD49f discovery could be in improving blood generating bioreactors. Ateriocyte, who has DARPA funding and is seeking FDA approval, is poised to create the next generation of ‘blood pharms’. Essentially, they take HSC found in umbilical cord blood and culture them into large blood supplies that can be administered to injured soldiers in battle, or injured civilians all over the world. With the ability to quickly identify and breed hemotopoietic stem cells from any kind of blood (not just cord blood), Ateriocyte could possibly ramp up their production considerably. Depending on the speed of their process, it may even be possible for people to donate their own HSC, have it cultured into red blood cells, and have a personalized supply on hand for whenever they get injured.

Every year around the world 50,000+ procedures are performed to transfer hematopoietic stem cells from donors to recipients in the hopes of fighting all kinds of blood-related illnesses, including cancers like leukemia. Tens of thousands of lives are saved but many more are left unassisted because they cannot find suitable donors. John Dick’s work to identify HSCs could change that – a single donor could provide enough cells for many recipients, or maybe we’d be able to each store our own HSC for later use. If nothing else, the scientific experiments enabled by having ready supplies of HSCs may help discover new techniques to fight these diseases.

The work by John Dick and his colleagues is pretty basic science, they’re essentially just figuring out how the body knows which cell is an HSC. Yet there are so many amazing potential applications that this experiment has to be seen as more than just another notch on the scientific belt. Every year we are taking further steps towards being able to alter our cells at will – transforming one type to another, and making more of each cell as we need them. With research like this, the science of tomorrow is likely to have a control over our bodies that seems impossible today. From that control will come life-extending regenerative medicine, superb healing after accidents, and a possible end to many cellular illnesses. It all starts with basic science like this. Kudos to John Dick and his team at the Ontario Cancer Institute, we could all be reaping the benefits from this work in the years ahead.

[image credit: Fujiman Production (Japan) via Wikicommons]
[sources: The Globe and MailScienceUHN Research News]