The University of Colorado’s Gates Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Biology just announced a potentially game-changing discovery in stem cell research for blood cancers and a whole host of other diseases.
Yosef Refaeli and his research team have found a way to expand blood stem cells. This is big news because blood stem cells can help treat blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma as well as inborn immunodeficiency diseases such as sickle-cell anemia and autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis. But up until now, treatment using blood stem cells has been limited by the number of cells a patient can produce. Hundreds of thousands of Americans could be affected by this discovery.
The research was supported in part by funding from the National Institutes of Health.
The goal now is to move the technology from the lab into clinical trials. Colorado-based biotech company Taiga Biotechnologies is in the process of setting up the trials.
The research was originally published in the academic journal PLOS ONE. Read the paper here.
A group of scientists at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) — a Research!America member — recently announced that it had successfully generated cloned embryonic stem cells from skin cells of an adult and an unfertilized human egg. Like other stem cell technologies, these cloned stem cells may one day be used for therapeutic purposes — replacing failed organs or damaged nerves.
Research into this area had been ongoing for several years; until now, scientists’ efforts were unsuccessful. Continue reading →
Recent research from Johns Hopkins Medicine that received government support shows that stem cells isolated from a patient’s own fat may be able to deliver new treatments directly into the brain to fight an aggressive brain tumor. The work, done in the laboratory of Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa, MD, is a proof-of-principle study that tests the ability of a particular type of stem cell, mesenchymal stem cells, to locate damaged or cancerous cells.
Cancer cells, particularly those in glioblastomas, the most common type of brain tumor, often break away from the main tumor and relocate to another area of the body. While neurosurgeons like Quinones-Hinojosa can carefully remove these tumors, radiation and chemotherapy are often insufficient to kill these run-away cancer cells. The promising results from this basic science study suggest that in the future, mesenchymal stem cells isolated from the patient’s own fat tissue can be modified and put back into the body to seek out and destroy isolated cancer cells in the brain after surgical removal of the tumor. Continue reading →
Research!America will honor extraordinary leaders in biomedical and health research advocacy at the 17th Annual Advocacy Awards tonight, March 13, at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, DC. This year’s Advocacy Award Winners are: Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC) and Bob Casey (D-PA); Diane Rehm, author and host of WAMU 88.5 and NPR’s “The Diane Rehm Show”; John F. Crowley, patient advocate, inspirational entrepreneur, and chairman and CEO of Amicus Therapeutics, Inc.; John Mendelsohn, MD, director, Khalifa Institute for Personalized Cancer Therapy and former president of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center; Mark Rosenberg, MD, president and CEO, The Task Force for Global Health; and the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM).
“The leadership demonstrated by this year’s award recipients has inspired others to push boundaries to improve the health of Americans and maintain our competitive edge in science and innovation,” said Mary Woolley, president and CEO of Research!America. “As advocates, they have contributed significantly to making biomedical and health research a higher national priority.”
Follow Research!America on Twitter (@researchamerica) and visit our Facebook page to get more information about tonight’s event. Look for photos of the Awards Dinner on our Flickr account and video clips on our YouTube page in the coming days.
For more information about the honorees, visit www.researchamerica.org/advocacy_awards and read our latest press release. You can also follow news updates from our honorees. Read Senator Burr’s blog and news from Senator Casey; visit The Diane Rehm Show’s Facebook page; don’t miss the Crowley family’s website and Amicus Therapeutics news; keep up with news about Mendelsohn and the Institute for Personalized Cancer Therapy; Rosenberg and the Task Force for Global Health’s online news room is full of great information; and don’t miss CIRM’s blog.
Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley Applauds Supreme Court’s Dismissal of Embryonic Stem Cell Case
January 9, 2013
The U.S. Supreme Court’s dismissal of Sherley v. Sebelius, a case intended to block federal funding for scientists conducting embryonic stem cell research, is a victory for patients and the research community. This key decision will allow the continuation of federal funding from the National Institutes of Health, providing essential support for scientists to conduct lifesaving research. Embryonic stem cells, which can repair or replace damaged tissue and organs, have advanced research aimed at finding cures and therapies to treat a wide variety of diseases and disorders including vision impairment, spinal cord injuries, and multiple sclerosis. Clinical trials have also shown promising therapeutic applications to help fight cancer, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes and other disabling illnesses. We applaud the ruling and will continue to support such innovative research that could save millions of lives.
# # #
The U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday that it would not hear a case that challenged the legality of federally funded human embryonic stem cell research.
The case, Sherley v. Sebelius, was brought by two researchers of induced pluripotent stem cells, James Sherley, MD, PhD, and Theresa Deisher, PhD in 2009. They argued that guidelines concerning government funding of hESC, adopted by the Obama administration, were in violation of the 1996 Dickey-Wicker Amendment. The amendment forbids the Department of Health and Human Services — including the National Institutes of Health — from using appropriated funds to either create embryos for research purposes or conduct research in which embryos are destroyed.
After an initial ruling in 2010 in favor of the plaintiffs, an injunction was issued that allowed research to continue. Eventually, both the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit found in favor of the government. The plaintiffs appealed the case to the Supreme Court, which declined to hear the case and offered no further comment in Monday’s order.
Stem cell research advocates were pleased with the ruling.
“This is a major victory for scientifically and ethically responsible innovative research,” Bernard Siegel, spokesperson for the Stem Cell Action Coalition and executive director of the Genetics Policy Institute, said in a statement. “With the cloud of this case lifted, researchers can now rest assured that the challenge to the NIH’s 2009 guidelines for funding for embryonic stem cell research is over. Patients and their advocates can now rejoice that this potentially life-saving research can proceed at the federal level.”
The ruling is “a victory for scientists, patients and the entire biomedical research community. Science can now continue to move forward, knowing the threat to promising research and funding has been eliminated,” said Amy Comstock Rick, president of the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research, according to ScienceInsider.
In a statement, NIH Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD, reaffirmed the agency’s dedication to ESCR.
“I am very pleased with today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to decline to review the Sherley v. Sebelius U.S. Court of Appeals ruling. This decision allows the ruling to stand, and enables NIH to continue conducting and funding stem cell research, following the strict ethical guidelines put in place in 2009. Patients and their families who look forward to new therapies to replace cells lost by disease or injury, or who may benefit from new drugs identified by screening using stem cells, should be reassured that NIH will continue supporting this promising research.”
Research!America Press Release: Likely Voters Say President’s “First 100 Days in Office” Should Include Plans for Promoting Medical Progress
As Political Conventions Begin, Voters say it’s Important for Candidates to Address Medical Research
WASHINGTON—August 22, 2012— On the eve of the political conventions, nearly two-thirds of likely voters say the next president should announce initiatives promoting medical progress during his “first 100 days in office,” according to a new national public opinion poll commissioned by Research!America. And nearly three-quarters of those polled say it’s important for candidates for the presidency and Congress to have a science advisor. The findings reveal deep concerns among voters about the lack of attention candidates and elected officials have assigned to research.
“Research and innovation, despite its contributions to the nation’s health and the economy, has been given short-shrift by candidates this year – even as funding for research is at high risk in budget discussions,” said Mary Woolley, president and CEO of Research!America. “This is troubling given the fact that deep spending cuts for government supported research and failure to adopt policies promoting competitiveness could drastically slow the pace of discovery and development at a time when health threats are expanding in many communities.”
Nearly 60 percent of likely voters say elected officials in Washington are not paying enough attention to combating the many deadly diseases that afflict Americans. An overwhelming majority of voters (90%) say it is important for candidates to address medical and health research this year. With concern about health care costs rising, 77% of likely voters say the federal government should fund research to make the health care system more efficient and effective. And despite the tough economy, more than half (53%) are willing to pay $1 per week more in taxes if they were certain that all of the money would be spent for additional research.
“Americans get the importance of medical research. Without a strong investment in research, we can’t combat disease, we can’t reduce exploding health care costs and we can’t balance our budget,” added Woolley.
Poll highlights include:
- 68% believe the federal government should increase support for scientific research that advances the frontiers of knowledge and supports private sector innovation.
- 60% say medical progress will slip in the U.S. if another country takes the lead in science, technology and medical innovation.
- 66% say their quality of life has been improved by medical research over last decade.
- 61% favor expanding federal funding for research using embryonic stem cells.
- Only 15% know that medical research in the U.S. is conducted in every state.
To view the poll, visit: www.researchamerica.org/nationalpoll2012
Research!America’s national voter education initiative Your Candidates-Your Health, invites candidates for the presidency and Congress to state their views on medical research and related issues. The brief questionnaire can be found at www.yourcandidatesyourhealth.org.
The National Public Opinion Pollwas conducted online in August 2012 by JZ Analytics for Research!America. The poll has a sample size of 1,052 likely U.S. voters with a theoretical sampling error of +/- 3.1%.
About us: Research!America is the nation’s largest nonprofit public education and advocacy alliance working to make research to improve health a higher national priority. Founded in 1989, Research!America is supported by member organizations that represent the voices of 125 million Americans. Visit www.researchamerica.org.
Research!America Press Release: Maintaining the Momentum of Medical Progress a Low Priority in Many Congressional Campaigns
WASHINGTON—August 7, 2012 —Research!America, a nonprofit advocacy alliance, says too many congressional candidates are minimizing the importance of our nation’s faltering role in fighting deadly and disabling diseases as a campaign issue. Polling indicates that Americans rank medical research a high priority but also shows a majority of likely voters are not aware of their representatives’ views on research.
Some candidates have indicated that they “don’t have time” to fill out a short questionnaire gauging their views on the importance of continued medical progress. Research!America and its partner organizations are calling on candidates to elevate the fight to save lives in their campaigns by participating in the national voter education initiative Your Candidates-Your Health, www.yourcandidatesyourhealth.org.
The brief questionnaire focuses on the nation’s investment in research and prevention; research as an economic driver; stem cell research; science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education; and other related issues.
“The idea that candidates ’don’t have time‘ to address an issue that literally has life or death consequences for millions of Americans is truly disturbing,” said Mary Woolley, president and CEO of Research!America. “Federally funded medical research is the catalyst to new, homegrown businesses in research and manufacturing in an economy that clearly needs both. Voters deserve to know where the candidates stand particularly when funding for research is on a downward slope, young scientists are discouraged about their future, and other countries are dramatically boosting their investments in research and development.”
In July, the House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee approved a bill that flat-funds the National Institutes of Health, eliminates the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and cuts funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by 10% in FY13. In addition, funding for federal health agencies is at risk under sequestration – automatic spending cuts to take effect in January 2013.
Deep spending cuts would have a crippling effect on research conducted by universities, academic health centers and independent research institutions across the country. According to the CDC, approximately 50,000 Americans die monthly of heart disease, more than 47,000 of cancer, nearly 11,000 of stroke, more than 6,000 of Alzheimer’s disease, and more than 5,000 of diabetes.
To date, President Barack Obama and dozens of congressional candidates, including incumbents from both parties, have responded to the Your Candidates-Your Health questionnaire. Gov. Mitt Romney has yet to respond. To learn more about the survey and view the responses of candidates, visit www.yourcandidatesyourhealth.org.
Research!America is the nation’s largest nonprofit public education and advocacy alliance working to make research to improve health a higher national priority. Founded in 1989, Research!America is supported by member organizations that represent the voices of 125 million Americans. Visit www.researchamerica.org.