Newswise — LOS ANGELES – Sept. 21, 2011 – The Cedars-Sinai Regenerative Medicine Institute has opened a new Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell (iPSC) Core Facility to produce powerful cells capable of making all tissues of the body from adult human skin cells.
One of the first to open in California, cells produced by the Cedars-Sinai core will be used in research funded by the National Institutes of Health and the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. The cells will be critical for innovative research aimed at increasing our understanding of human diseases and genetic disorders, and the quest for new treatments.
“The opening of the Cedars-Sinai Stem Cell Core Facility underscores what an exciting time this is in regenerative medicine," said Shlomo Melmed, MD, senior vice president of academic affairs and dean of the faculty at Cedars-Sinai. “It also is an example of Cedars-Sinai’s deep commitment to the scientific research that will be translated into tomorrow’s leading-edge treatments.”
The new facility will use the latest technology to generate induced pluripotent stem cells from a patient skin scraping. The induced pluripotent stem cells can be replicated indefinitely and have biological properties similar to embryonic stem cells. These “blank slate” cells can then be turned into any kind of differentiated cell, such as a brain cell or an eye cell or a liver cell.
Although iPS cells were first produced only three years ago, they have quickly become valuable research tools. Clinicians can take skin cells from patients with specific life threatening diseases. Then, Regenerative Medicine Institute scientists can create iPS cells from them and then generate so-called “disease in a dish” models that enable them to more easily identify effective therapies.
“Now, for the first time, we can study human diseases by creating a laboratory specimen of afflicted cells,” said Clive Svendsen, PhD, director of the Cedars-Sinai Regenerative Medicine Institute. “We have been funded by both the National Institutes of Health and the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine to do this work which has the potential to revolutionize medicine.”
For example, the Stem Cell Core Facility already is supplying iPS cells to a five-member National Institutes of Health consortium of researchers for development of potential therapies to treat Huntington’s disease, an incurable neurodegenerative genetic disorder that affects muscle coordination and some cognitive functions, such as memory. With funding from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the Cedars-Sinai core has also generated iPS cells from children with spinal muscular atrophy – a lethal disease that leaves children paralyzed. These are being used to develop novel drug compounds to treat this devastating disorder,
“We are very excited to launch this new core facility,” said Dhruv Sareen, PhD, the core’s new director. “It will enable exciting studies across the entire Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and we look forward to much productive collaboration.”
The Cedars-Sinai Regenerative Medicine Institute brings together basic scientists with clinicians and physician scientists across multiple medical specialties to translate fundamental stem cell studies to therapeutic regenerative medicine. The Institute is housed in new laboratories designed for stem cell and regenerative medicine research. Cells produced within the Institute are for use in a variety of Cedars-Sinai medical research programs, currently focusing on understanding the causes of and finding treatments for diseases of the brain, heart, eye, liver, kidney, pancreas and skeletal structures, as well as cancer and metabolic disorders.