Regenerative medicine and Cross-border awards…
Gene Therapy Saves Donor Lungs: A technique using gene therapy on donor lungs before transplantation may be used to repair and save damaged lungs, making them potentially suitable for transplantation into patients. The procedure involves first preserving the lungs at normal body temperature in a protective chamber called the Toronto XVIVO Lung Perfusion System, which continuously pumps a solution of oxygen, proteins and nutrients. Next, adenovirus gene therapy is used to introduce the IL-10 cytokine gene into the lungs. IL-10 helps to decrease inflammation, which would lead to improved health and function of the donor lungs and better outcome for the patient.
Dr. Shaf Keshavjee, the project leader at the McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine, describes the rationale:
“It’s as if gene therapy turbocharges each individual cell to manufacture many more proteins in its own IL-10 factory.”
“This protein down-regulates or decreases the inflammatory potential of cells injured before and during the transplant process. It also has the capacity to turn down the recipient’s immune system which rejects the transplanted organ.”
The research study is reported in this week’s issue of Science, Translational Medicine.
A Platform to Test Cardiac Cell Therapy: A model system for evaluating stem cell transplant in cardiac cell therapy to repair damaged heart tissue is described in this study by Drs. Peter Zandstra and Milica Radisic’s team at the University of Toronto. Using their engineered heart tissue (EHT) as the analytical platform, they applied stem-cell derived cardiac cells and measured molecular and electrophysiological parameters of the EHT. The system was verified as a predictive strategy to interrogate different cell transplantation conditions for the capacity to survive and functionally integrate into heart tissue. This tool should help researchers accelerate development of cardiac cell therapy strategies and it can also provide mechanistic insight into the challenges of a successful transplant. On a personalized medicine theme, an advantage of the system is that the EHTs are customizable and can be derived from individuals for patient specific testing prior to the actual treatment. The study appears in this week’s edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“Cross-border” Cancer Stem Cell Therapy Award: The Collaborative Partnership Program between the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) and the Cancer Stem Cell Consortium (CSCC) in Canada have awarded two internationally recognized Canadian researchers with support to lead their respective cancer stem cell based therapy projects.
One project will develop agents to directly target leukemic stem cells that are resistant to current therapies. This will be co-led by Dr. John Dick, Princess Margaret Hospital and Dr. Dennis Carson, University of California San Diego.
The other project will develop small molecules targeting cancer-initiating cells within solid tumor cancers and will be co-led by Dr. Tak Mak, Princess Margaret Hospital and Dr. Dennis Slamon, University of California, Los Angeles.
The awards offer each project up to $40 million (USD) over four years, with funding for the Canadian investigators contributed by Genome Canada and Canadian Institutes of Health Research through the CSCC and funding for the Californian investigators contributed by CIRM.
Congratulations to Drs. John Dick and Tak Mak!
Top 10: The Scientist magazine ranked Dalhousie University in Halifax and the University of Toronto in the top 10 best places to work in academia outside of the U.S. Based on a web survey of scientists regarding job satisfaction, pay, research resources and relationships with their peers and management, Dalhousie ranked 5th and U of T came in at 10th place. It is very nice to see Canadian institutions and our great research environment recognized by peers around the world.