Sue DeLisle

01
Aug 2017
Share This
0 Comments

Private clinics promoting stem cell services on ClinicalTrials.gov

Posted by

ClinicalTrials.gov is a searchable database of clinical trials from around the world that are funded by public and private organizations.  It’s a registry hosted by the USA-based National Institutes of Health (NIH) to provide doctors and their patients a resource to find appropriate studies for a variety of conditions. …

ClinicalTrials.gov is a searchable database of clinical trials from around the world that are funded by public and private organizations.  It’s a registry hosted by the USA-based National Institutes of Health (NIH) to provide doctors and their patients a resource to find appropriate studies for a variety of conditions.  A search on July 27th showed that there were over 1,400 stem cell clinical trials actively looking for patients.

It’s a great resource, and we link to it on our website, but patients should be aware that the studies listed are not vetted by the NIH.

Some private clinics are using the site as part of their marketing efforts to recruit new clients as shown in a recent study published by Leigh Turner, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota Center for Bioethics.

“Many individuals use ClinicalTrials.gov to find legitimate, well-designed, and carefully conducted clinical trials.  They are at risk of being misled by study listings that lend an air of legitimacy and credibility to clinics promoting unproven and unlicensed stem cell interventions” said Professor Turner in an interview with RegMedNet regarding the study.

Professor Turner found that private clinics used terms such as “pay to participate”, “patient-funded” or “patient-sponsored” when listing on ClinicalTrials.gov.  Typically, patients are not charged to participate in a clinical trial but may be responsible for costs such as travel expenses.

The NIH recently added a disclaimer on the site that they do not endorse the studies listed and that patients should consult with “a trusted healthcare professional before volunteering for a study”.  In addition, patients and their caregivers should be given information on how the study will be conducted, what the risks are and what the road to recovery might look like.

For more information regarding stem cell clinical trials, the International Society for Stem Cell Research provides a Web feature called Considering a stem cell treatment.  For additional background, we recommend, What you need to know about stem cell therapies, a booklet prepared by the University of Alberta Faculty of Law, Albany Medical College and the Stem Cell Network.

Click to read more Close
18
Jul 2017
Share This
0 Comments

Stem Cell and Artificial Intelligence Researchers Collaborate to Understand Memory

Posted by

Oscar Wilde once poetically waxed that “Memory… is the diary that we all carry about with us.”  Two University of Toronto researchers recently published a review paper in journal Neuron that pointed to the fact that we only keep the memories that really matter to us. …

Oscar Wilde once poetically waxed that “Memory… is the diary that we all carry about with us.”  Two University of Toronto researchers recently published a review paper in journal Neuron that pointed to the fact that we only keep the memories that really matter to us.  Like a leather bound diary, our memory has finite amount of space and we erase the memories that we don’t have a particular attachment with to make room for new ones. This ultimately helps us with decision making as we only need to scan information that is valuable to us.

“It’s important that the brain forgets irrelevant details and instead focuses on the stuff that’s going to help make decisions in the real world,” says Dr. Blake Richards, co-author of the study, Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto’s Department of Biological Sciences, and a fellow in CIFAR’s Program in Learning in Machines & Brains, in an article posted on CIFAR’s website.  “If you’re trying to navigate the world and your brain is constantly bringing up multiple conflicting memories, that makes it harder for you to make an informed decision,” adds Dr. Richards.

Beyond being assured that memory loss is part of a healthy brain and intelligent decision making, the research is interesting because it combined learnings from artificial intelligence (AI) with available stem cell research regarding the role of neural brain cells in memory.

“Canadian researchers are world-class leaders in both stem cell research and artificial intelligence – two fields that have significant potential to transform society.  It’s truly exciting to continue this line of collaboration so that we can understand something as complex and important as the human brain” says Dr. Alan Bernstein, President and CEO of CIFAR and Chair of the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation.

Further collaborations between AI and the field of stem cell research could help researchers predict other types of cellular activity and ultimately accelerate the delivery of new treatment developments to the clinic.

Click to read more Close
27
Jun 2017
Share This
0 Comments

STEMCELL Technologies named Company of the Year 2017 by BC Tech Association

Posted by

The B.C. Tech Association recognized STEMCELL Technologies Inc. as the Company of the Year at its annual Technology Impact Awards (TIA) held this month.…

The B.C. Tech Association recognized STEMCELL Technologies Inc. as the Company of the Year at its annual Technology Impact Awards (TIA) held this month.

STEMCELL Technologies is one of Canada’s largest biotech firms and develops stem cell tools for researchers across the world.  The company currently employs close to 1,000 people worldwide and saw its revenue grow 20% in 2016 according to an article posted by Business Vancouver.

Accepting the award, Dr. Allen Eaves, President and CEO, STEMCELL Technologies Inc. said “We want to be the company that is going to help support our health care system, [and] get it out of the terrible mess it’s in by providing new and wonderful tools that we will sell to the rest of the world,” as quoted by betakit.com.

We’ve written about Dr. Eaves previously on this site and his dedication to eradicating cancer.

Founded in 1994, the TIAs celebrate BC’s leaders and rising stars in the innovation and technology sectors.  According to the Association, the technology sector in BC delivers nearly $25 billion in revenue and has been one of the strongest contributors to BC’s economic growth over the past decade employing over 90,000 people across 9,000 companies.

Click to read more Close
21
Jun 2017
Share This
0 Comments

Growing Canada’s Talent Pool

Posted by

As Canada looks to grow our innovation economy, which is driven by entrepreneurship and increased productivity, the federal government has introduced a fast track work permit plan for highly skilled foreign workers to address our knowledge gap.   …

As Canada looks to grow our innovation economy, which is driven by entrepreneurship and increased productivity, the federal government has introduced a fast track work permit plan for highly skilled foreign workers to address our knowledge gap.   The program called Global Talent Stream launched June 12th and expedites the process for qualified and highly skilled talent to receive work permits in Canada within two weeks of applying.

“Being able to quickly attract the best and brightest minds to Canada — above and beyond the ones that already live here — is one way the federal government has listened to the needs of CEOs who are choosing to grow their companies in Canada”, notes Dr. Allen Eaves, President and CEO, STEMCELL Technologies Inc. in an opinion piece published in the Vancouver Sun .

Dr. Eaves knows first-hand what it takes to attract good people.  Starting with 8 employees in 1993, STEMCELL Technologies has grown to over 1,000 current employees and has plans to expand to over 4,000 in the next 10 years.  Over one-third of the staff hold a Doctorate or Masters and the majority of employees have a Bachelor of Science or Engineering degree.

This is good news for the stem cell sector as well as the general economy because of a multiplier effect.  According to economist Enrico Moretti, each new high-tech job creates five additional jobs in the service economy.  As quoted in the MIT Sloan Management Review, Moretti points out that “for each new high-tech job in a city, five additional jobs are ultimately created outside of the high-tech sector in that city,”   He cites occupations such as lawyers, teachers, nurses, waiters, hairdressers and carpenters.  This is three times higher than in other sectors such as manufacturing.

Click to read more Close
10
May 2017
Share This
0 Comments

New award launched to celebrate and promote stem cell science

Posted by

Applications for the Sartorius & Science Prize for Regenerative Medicine & Cell Therapy are being accepted now.  The annual prize will be awarded to a researcher whose work has advanced the field of regenerative medicine and cell therapy.…

Applications for the Sartorius & Science Prize for Regenerative Medicine & Cell Therapy are being accepted now.  The annual prize will be awarded to a researcher whose work has advanced the field of regenerative medicine and cell therapy.

The winner will receive $25,000 USD and their application essay will be published in Science magazine.  The Grand Prize also includes a 5-year membership to The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and an online subscription to Science.

Details about the prize and the application guide can be found here.

The prize is to raise the awareness for the field and is a collaborative effort between Sartorius, a leading pharmaceutical and laboratory equipment company, and AAAS.

Click to read more Close
05
May 2017
Share This
0 Comments

Dr. Molly Shoichet awarded prestigious Killam Prize

Posted by

Recognized for the contributions she has made throughout her career to advancing the field of stem cell research and regenerative medicine, University of Toronto’s Dr. 

Recognized for the contributions she has made throughout her career to advancing the field of stem cell research and regenerative medicine, University of Toronto’s Dr. Molly Shoichet has been awarded a 2017 Killam Prize along with $100,000 to advance her work.

“This award will accelerate our research and our efforts to improve the lives of people everywhere who are living with the effects of cancer, stroke, blindness and other currently irreversible conditions” commented Dr. Shoichet in an article published by the University of Toronto.

Dr. Shoichet’s research focuses on using biomaterials to enhance the effectiveness of stem cells in the treatment of conditions such as blindness and stroke.  She developed a hydrogel platform to deliver stem cells to the brain and eyes to restore vision by 15 per cent.  For that, and her other contributions to the field of stem cell research, Dr. Shoichet received the 2016 Till & McCulloch Award.

Beyond her research endeavors, Dr. Shoichet is a strong advocate for women in science and technology careers and was the L’Oreal-UNESCO Women in Science Laureate, North America for 2015.  She also advocates for Canadian innovation and co-authored a piece published last year in iPolitics to promote Canada’s global leadership in the field of stem cell research and regenerative medicine.

Click to read more Close
04
Apr 2017
Share This
0 Comments

Congratulations to Dr. Alan Bernstein – Awarded 2017 Henry G. Friesen International Prize

Posted by

Dr. Alan Bernstein, Chair of the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation, has been awarded the 2017 Henry G. Friesen International Prize in Health Research for his significant contributions to health and innovation.   …

Dr. Alan Bernstein, Chair of the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation, has been awarded the 2017 Henry G. Friesen International Prize in Health Research for his significant contributions to health and innovation.   The prize, established in 2005, recognizes “exceptional innovation by a visionary health leader”.

As the press release notes, there are many examples of Dr. Bernstein’s impact on health research and his ability to build strong collaborations.

  • As the inaugural President of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, he brought together biomedical, clinical and social scientists and set the standard for transdisciplinary research in Canada.
  • Serving as the Executive Director of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise in New York, Dr. Bernstein built an international alliance of researchers and funders to accelerate the development of HIV vaccines.
  • As the President & CEO of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, he promotes collaboration on a global scale by forging partnerships between international researchers to work on health, social and technological challenges.

Dr. Bernstein’s own stem cell and cancer research is rooted in strong partnerships as we wrote about here when he was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame.   A fellow of both the Royal Society of Canada and the Canadian Academy of Health Science, he is an Officer of the Order of Canada.

As the Chair of the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation, Dr. Bernstein was instrumental in the collaborative effort that brought together 150 scientists, doctors, leaders from health charities, industry experts and philanthropists to craft the Canadian Stem Cell Strategy with a unified vision to deliver 10 new stem cell therapies to the clinic within 10 years.

“Helen Keller is attributed with the quote ‘Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much’ and Alan’s career characterizes the sentiment,”  noted James Price, President & CEO of the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation,  “We congratulate Dr. Bernstein on this award and thank him for his exemplary leadership”.

Click to read more Close
16
Mar 2017
Share This
1 Comment

Unproven stem cell treatment leaves three women blind

Posted by

Three women who believed they were participating in a clinical trial either lost all or most of their vision after being injected with stem cells derived from their own fat in a Florida clinic. …

Three women who believed they were participating in a clinical trial either lost all or most of their vision after being injected with stem cells derived from their own fat in a Florida clinic.  The case points to the dangers of unproven treatments offered by private clinics.

Within days of treatment the women, who all suffered from macular degeneration, began to experience severe side effects including bleeding in the eye, detached retinas and vision loss as reported in a study released week in The New England Journal of Medicine.   Expert ophthalmologists tried to reverse the damage but were unable.

“There’s a lot of hope for stem cells, and these types of clinics appeal to patients desperate for care who hope that stem cells are going to be the answer, but in this case these women participated in a clinical enterprise that was off-the-charts dangerous”  said Dr. Thomas Alibini, a lead author of the study, in a press release.

This isn’t the first time there have been adverse reactions to unproven treatments offered at clinics, many using stem cells drawn from the patient’s own fat, and we’ve written about it several times on this blog warning patients to be cautious of claims that appear too good to be true.

So how can patients protect themselves?  The California Institute of Regenerative Medicine offers this advice:

  • There is almost no evidence that the fat/blood stem cell combination the clinic used could help repair the photoreceptor cells in the eye that are attacked in macular degeneration.
  • The clinic charged the women $5,000 for the procedure. Usually in Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved trials the clinical trial sponsor will cover the cost of the therapy being tested.
  • Both eyes were injected at the same time.  Most clinical trials would only treat one eye at a time and allow up to 30 days between patients to ensure the approach was safe.
  • Even though the treatment was listed on the clinicaltrials.gov website, there is no evidence that this was part of a clinical trial, and certainly not one approved by the FDA.

Most importantly, patients should check with their doctor before considering any medical treatment or participating in any clinical trial.  You can also find great information for patients considering stem cell treatments here that has been produced by the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR).

Click to read more Close
15
Dec 2016
Share This
0 Comments

New test helps tailor treatments for high-risk leukemia patients

Posted by

Researchers at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto have developed a test to predict responses to standard treatments in patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) — one of the most deadly and common types of adult leukemia.…

Researchers at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto have developed a test to predict responses to standard treatments in patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) — one of the most deadly and common types of adult leukemia.

The test is designed to be administered in tandem with diagnosis so that once the marker is identified, an individual treatment plan can be prepared.

“Clinicians will now have a tool that they can use upfront to tailor treatment to risk in AML,” says Dr. Jean Wang, Affiliate Scientist at the Princess Margaret and Co-Principle Investigator of the study in a press release from the University Health Network.

The marker identifies a 17-gene signature derived from leukemia stem cells that are resistant to standard chemotherapy and cause relapse for patients. Based on a rigorous statistical approach, a “stemness score” measures a patient’s probability for chemo resistant cells. With this knowledge, clinicians will be able to enroll high-risk patients in clinical trials to test alternative therapies to chemotherapy alone.

The test not only provides a fast turnaround time for patients as they decide the best course of care, it also represents the first time a stem cell-based biomarker has been developed in this way for human cancer.

Click to read more Close
14
Nov 2016
Share This
0 Comments

McMaster’s research centre marks decade with new site/logo

Posted by

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. …

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.

 

Click to read more Close
Back to Top