Two studies recently published describe the derivation and functional testing of retinal pigmented epithelium (RPE) from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC’s). Lead by MCDB professor and CSCBE executive director Dennis Clegg in collaboration with Pete Coffey from the University College London, these studies show that RPE can be derived from iPSC’s and can rescue visual function in a rat model of blindness. These results provide the potential for cell replacement therapy for age-related macular degeneration. The research was published in the October 27th, 2009 issue of the journal Stem Cells and on December 2nd, 2009 in the online open-access journal PLoS One.
The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) and UK Medical Research Council (MRC) are funding a $20 million multi-institutional grant on vision research. UC Santa Barbara will receive $2.5 million for their stem cell-related research. This funding will help translate basic stem cell research to clinical trials on treating macular degeneration.
UC Santa Barbara stem cell researcher Prof. Hyongsok (Tom) Soh has receives the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director’s Transformative R01 Award. These awards are given to fund exceptionally innovative, original research projects that can significantly affect a broad biomedical research area. Prof. Soh was awarded for his research on a novel, high throughput cell sorting technology, developed by his laboratory, that has extensive applications for stem cell research and proteomics research.
Age-related macular degeneration and other eye diseases are possible candidates for future stem cell therapies. Researchers from UC Santa Barbara’s Center for Stem Cell Biology and Engineering and Center for the Treatment of Macular Degeneration are collaborating with the Doheny Eye Institute and the London Project to Cure Blindness at the University College London to generate ocular cells from stem cells. A recent article in Nature discusses ongoing efforts to develop stem cell therapies for the eye.
A team lead by MCDB professor Ken Kosik has made a significant discovery in understanding the way human embryonic stem cells function. New research by CIRM-funded postdoctoral scholar Na Xu, working with Thales Papagiannakopoulos, Guangjin Pan and UCSB Center for Stem Cell Biology and Engineering Co-Director James Thomson, explain nature’s way of controlling whether stem cells will renew, or differentiate to become a brain cell or heart cell, or any other part of the human body. The study is reported in the May 1 issue of the journal Cell.
UC Santa Barbara has received a $1.2 million training grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) to continue an interdisciplinary training program in stem cell biology and engineering. The three-year grant will make it possible for pre-doctoral and postdoctoral students to participate in groundbreaking research in two broad but interrelated areas: the fundamental molecular biology of stem cell proliferation and differentiation, and bioengineering approaches to develop novel biotechnologies for stem cell research.
UC Santa Barbara stem cell researcher Prof. Hyongsok (Tom) Soh has been announced as the winner of the 2009 Association for Laboratory Automation (ALA) Award for his presentation on a novel high throughput cell sorting system developed in his laboratory which has applications for stem cell research.