CIRM Scholar Nareg Djabrayan, working with MCDB Professor Joel Rothman, found that the well known Notch signaling pathway causes C. elegans cells to commit to a particular identity, such as a skin or brain cell. When the Notch pathway was blocked by genetic manipulation, the researchers discovered that they could force cells to change their destiny, such that they instead became cells of the intestine. Reprogramming of one somatic cell type to another might be useful in strategies for regeneration of tissue damaged by injury or disease. Results were reported in the November 1 issue of Genes and Development. Nate Dudley and Erica Sommermann were also authors on the study.
Biomedical research at UC Santa Barbara has catapulted to a position of leadership in the arena of stem cell biology, offering progress toward cures for vision diseases such as macular degeneration. Stem cell research has the potential to transform the practice of medicine, by replacing diseased tissue with healthy new cells. Interdisciplinary teams of UCSB researchers –– including world-renowned faculty members recruited from the U.S. and Britain –– are leading the charge. The university’s newly renovated lab space is critical to the mission.
Amgen founder Bill Bowes gives $5 million to develop stem cell therapy for ocular disease; donation launches EMBODI, new biomedical initiative
By growing new retinal cells to replace those that have malfunctioned, scientists hope to one day create and fuse entire layers of fresh cells –– a synthetic patch akin to a contact lens –– as a treatment for age-related macular degeneration, the top cause of visual impairment among people over 60.
Such is the goal of an elite research team at UC Santa Barbara, which aims to advance the novel therapy out of the lab and into the clinic by way of regenerative bioengineering. With stem cells also showing great promise for diabetic retinopathy, the same group is taking a similar approach to this condition –– the leading cause of blindness in younger adults.
Congratulations to the new crop of 7 CIRM Scholars at UC Santa Barbara! After rigorous review, the Steering Committee awarded 3 Postdoctoral Scholarships and 4 Predoctoral Scholarships to support a portfolio of projects that includes investigation of stem cells in model organisms, human pluripotent stem cells, human adult stem cells, cancer stem cells, and bioengineering approaches to stem cell research.
U.S. News & World Report has ranked UC Santa Barbara number 10 in its annual listing of the “Top 30 Public National Universities” in the country, and number 41 on its list of the “Best National Universities.”
Stem Cell Center Professor Steve Fisher and colleagues Geoff Lewis and Gabe Luna have joined forces with UCI Ophthalmologist Henry Klassen to develop a stem cell therapy for Retinis Pigmentosa. Dr. Klassen is Principal Investigator on a new $17.3M “disease team” grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. In addition to UCSB, collaborators include Cedars Sinai and UC Davis. This project will be the second CIRM disease team effort that includes UCSB, both focused on ocular disease.
Scientists in the laboratory of Dr. Thomas Weimbs have demonstrated that a new drug is effective in treating a very common genetic disease, polycystic kidney disease (PKD). Over 600,000 people in the U.S., and 12 million worldwide, are affected by PKD, a disease that is characterized by the proliferation of thousands of cysts that eventually debilitate the kidneys, causing kidney failure in half of all patients by the time they reach age 50. The is currently no available treatment for this disease. In collaboration with the Indiana-based biopharmaceutical company Endocyte, Dr. Weimbs’ laboratory developed and tested a new compound called folate-conjugated rapamycin that targets to the kidneys and slows renal cyst growth in a PKD mouse model. Dr. Weimbs is also interested in stem cell-based treatments for kidney disease.
Pete Coffey traveled to Buckingham Palace on February 19 to collect the the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education, which was awarded to the University College Institute of Ophthalmology. The Institute was recognized as “one of the foremost and most influential eye and vision research institutes in the world, enjoying an outstanding reputation for excellence in furthering understanding of the eye and visual system and its related disorders and diseases.” The Award was presented by Her Majesty The Queen, with His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh.The Queen’s Anniversary Prizes are the UK’s highest form of national recognition open to UK academic or vocational institutions.