After a decade of innovation, McMaster’s Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute (SCC-RI) has launched a new website to draw attention to research advances and share links to resources for patients, care givers and future scientists. The SCC-RI’s new logo, a stylized hand, represents the numerous people involved in translating research into new therapeutic options for patients.
The SCC-RI was established in 2006 — the same year Dr. Shinya Yamanaka established his game-changing protocol to turn adult skin stem cells back to an embryonic stem cell-like state of pluripotency — to drive new therapies to the clinic. Since the beginning, SCC-RI has focused its research on improving bone marrow and cord blood transplants, finding cell-based solutions to cancer and identifying and targeting the cells responsible for neural disorders such as autism.
“Our commitment to working with human cells and our established drug discovery capabilities make this the best place for moving forward to patient-specific drug discovery,” said Dr. Karun Singh, Principal Investigator at SCC-RI in a recent blog post.
Dr. Singh recently led a team that discovered a gene mutation that causes autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Having identified the genetic glitch, researchers can now focus their efforts on finding a way to improve the brain connections that are causing symptoms of ASD.
The SCC-RI team has developed a robotic system to test a library of currently available drugs on a variety of diseased cells before starting human trials. In a landmark study, Dr. Mick Bhatia, SCC-RI Director and Senior Scientist, found the antipsychotic drug, thioridazine, kills cancer stem cells responsible for initiating leukemia without harming normal stem cells. A Phase I clinical trial is now underway.