Weekly reads: stem cells for spina bifida & diabetes trials, pubs

It’s always great when there’s good news in the stem cell field and a new trial of stem cells for spina bifida here at UC Davis School of Medicine is very encouraging. So I’ll lead off with this story.

Stem cells for spina bifida

This pioneering work is led by Drs. Diana Farmer and Aijun Wang. It has received major funding from CIRM, which covered the work on its blog recently.

Stem cells spina bifida
In research on stem cells for spina bifida, Arthur the dog got an experimental therapy. Here is a picture of Arthur visiting the Knoepfler Lab.

I also wrote before about how this work was being tested in animal models including in dogs, including Arthur who at one point visited my lab. You can learn more about the research in the video below.

In spina bifida the spinal cord is exposed and that exposure is damaging. The idea behind the trial is to use a patch that includes placental cells to cover the spine area and allow for healthy spinal cord development.

An almost three-year-long trial will start providing data in people to learn more about the nature of the patch including its safety. The hope is that the therapy may ultimately prove safe and effective for spina bifida. At present if detected by ultrasound surgeons can do in utero surgery to try to close the defect. Sometimes surgery can be done early after birth.

I’m excited to see how this trial proceeds.

Stem Cell News

FDA grants fast track designation to stem cell therapy for type 1 diabetes. This designation goes to Vertex Pharma. The more solid clinical trial work on diabetes the greater the promise of a treatment or cure one day. Hopefully that day is coming in the next 5-10 years.


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