Another year passed. Another year present.
2012 was quite a big year for stem cells news so let's recap its monumental progress for regenerative therapies for conditions such as diabetes, spinal cord injury, and Alzheimer's disease as presented by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM).
1.) Store-A-Tooth launched its "Store a Tooth - Find a Cure" initiative earlier this year with its mission to fund diabetes research and support the potential of stem cells therapies in treating the disease. Amongst some of our initiative efforts were our attendance of the annual Children with Diabetes Conference 2012 in Orlando as well as our participation of sponsorship of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Boston Walk to Cure Diabetes.
CIRM released a short video interview of Chris Stiehl and Sarah Young, both living with type 1 diabetes, along with Kevin D'Amour, Chief Scientific Officer at Viacyte, Inc., which was recently awarded a $20 million award to help bring an embryonic stem cell-based diabetes therapy to clinical trials. The video gives great insight into a day in the life of someone struggling with the disease and emphasizes the exciting potential and hope for such stem cell therapies to finally arise ultimately leading to a cure.
Find out how stem cells in teeth are being used to find a cure for diabetes here
2.) In June, CIRM grantee Irv Weissman at Stanford University wrote a bold article about the barriers that confront the development new therapies. He proceeds to express his frustration with fraudulent stem cell clinics, the lack of FDA presence, private cord blood banks, incomplete biological models of diseases, poor science, and problematic business development practices.
He expresses an urgency for stem cell therapies and their potential to revolutionize medicine:
"Remember, right now our patients, friends, and families are contracting diseases that have a very short window of opportunity in which regenerative therapies can save them, and each delay removes a cohort of them from possible cures. We should not fail them."
Read Irv's complete article here
3.) The third story describes an interview with Katie Sharify, the fifth stem cell trial participant of Gerson's CIRM-supported now closed clinical trial for spinal cord injury. Geron’s was the first clinical trial to test a therapy based on embryonic stem cells. Katie, confined to a wheelchair after an accident, describes what it’s like to be a patient in a stem cell clinical trial. She expresses how she had very little understanding of the science before her injury and had very little time to get as informed as possible before making a decision about whether or not to participate. She was fortunate enough to quickly educate herself in just six days and she needed to educate her parents, who barely speak English, while also adjusting to life in a wheelchair.
“I was part of something that was bigger than me, and bigger than all of you.”
Although Geron terminated the trial, Geron entered into a nonbinding agreement to transfer their embryonic stem cell programs to BioTime, Inc. A lot of unknowns remain in that agreement, but if it goes through it could mean that more people with recent spinal cord injuries have a chance to make a decision like Katie’s.
Find out how stem cells in teeth are being used to treat spinal cord injury here
4.) The fourth top topic at CIRM was their discussion with CIRM grantee Lawrence Goldstein about stem cell therapies for Alzheimer’s disease. As part of that conversation, they discussed what he saw in the future for stem cell science. He realizes some stem cell projects may never go forward and progress, but “some of them are going to hit it big and change everything.” He supports the potential and great promise the future of regenerative medicine holds such that "if the public continues to adequately fund research with stem cells we will see breakthroughs that are absolutely unexpected and that will change the way that we deliver medicine."
5.) In September of 2012, StemCells Inc reported huge news that two patients in their clinical trial for spinal cord injury were recovering well and seemed to have gained some sensation. The preliminary success of this trial allowed the patients to feel touch and heat and although this news is very exciting, the data has yet to be reviewed by scientists and published, and also the data reported only pertains to three people. To gain a more definitive conclusion, the scientists will need to perform trials on a larger number of spinal cord injury patients.
However, this is still exciting news that offers promise for some even in the smallest ways, especially those confined to a wheelchair due to a spinal cord injury. It emphasizes the world of difference the future of regenerative medicine exemplifies and how stem cells in bone marrow, cord blood and teeth can one day be used to treat spinal cord injury.
Big things in 2012, so here's to 2013!