A city hospital claims that it has successfully come out with a treatment for spine repair and a stem cell therapy to correct paralysis.
At a press meet on Tuesday, the hospital shared the stories of paralysed patients it has successfully treated in the past few months.
The Bangalore Institute of Regenerative Medicine at Live 100 Hospital announced that the treatment involves a number of steps and while some patients gain sensation in the lower half of their bodies within three months from commencing of the treatment, others take a little longer.
“I am glad we finally are able to give people a better and improved life. There has always been a myth that stem cell therapy is very expensive, which is not true in this case,” said Dr HN Nagaraj, chairman and managing director, Live 100 Hospital.
Balakrishan Baldev, who was paralysed neck down for 10 years on receiving a wrong diagnosis from another hospital, was the first patient to undergo this treatment. He has gained 95% movement and sensation. He started his treatment early this year and three injections have been administered to him so far.
“You have one life, live it. In fact live a 100 in just one. I can now control my body and feel myself. This has been the greatest gift i have ever received,” said Baldev.
Another patient Khaleed Abdullah was a soldier from Yemen. He was shot in the spinal chord during a war 4 years ago. Two levels of his spinal chord were crushed, and he visited seven countries before landing in India. After receiving treatment, he can now feel sensations up to the upper thigh. It’s been nine months since his treatment started.
Dr Nagaraj said that the late actor Christopher Reeve (Superman) was the biggest reason that research in this branch of science even began. Reeve broke his neck when he was thrown off a horse, paralysing him neck down and he required a respirator to breathe. Having no control of his own body, the actor spent everything he had towards the research of embryonic cells and supporting people who had problems related to the spine.
At the age of just 16, Victoria Rathmill has become the world’s youngest stem cell donor.
The British schoolgirl was spurred on to donate her cells after a family friend was tragically diagnosed with leukaemia earlier this year.
Without her parents knowledge the A-level pupil signed up to the Anthony Nolan bone marrow register in February when she was just 16.
In just a few months she was identified as a perfect match to a patient suffering from blood cancer and made a donation at a London Clinic last month.
This selfless act made the teenager from Macclesfield, Cheshire, the youngest ever person in the world to provide stem cells to a non-relative.
Miss Rathmill, who is now 17 said: ‘At first I was like: “I’ll join when I’m 18, I’m not going to make any difference”, but then a friend of our family got ill and so I felt the need to join up.’
The All Hallows Catholic College student confessed that she did not tell her surprised parents about her plan to donate.
She said: ‘It was only a couple of weeks after I signed up that I told my mum. Anthony Nolan sent the spit kit out to me and she asked me what it was.
‘Though she was taken aback a bit at first, she thought it was a nice thing to do, especially given our friend’s experience.’
After registering with the charitable organisation the youngster received a phone call in October- just six months later- telling her that she had been matched to a patient.
‘After I signed up I just stopped thinking about it really. You just don’t expect to get the phone call within six months of registering,’ she said.
She added: ‘It’s quite shocking to think I’m the youngest-ever – you’re never the first to do anything nowadays, it’s all been done already.’ Miss Rathmill revealed that she would happily donate again describing the process as being similar to giving blood.
She said: ‘It’s just like giving blood really. I would do it again because it’s not that difficult. It’s just a couple of days out of your life to save somebody else’s – and I got a free trip to London.’
The teenager’s proud mother Paula described her daughter as being a headstrong and determined individual.
She said: ‘It never really occurred to me to try and stop her from helping another person in their hour of need. It makes me very proud.
‘Yet even though she’s strong, what she’s doing takes courage and she’s still only 17. I didn’t want her to feel bad if it doesn’t work out for the patient, which it might not.
‘But she’s level-headed and after having gone through the donation process, she knows she couldn’t have done anymore.’ Mrs Rathmill has now urged other parents to encourage their children to donate their cells.
She added: ‘To others who go through this I would say look it up, get involved and then encourage your child as much as you can.
‘I personally feel you have to trust your children to make the right decisions.
‘While it’s up to each family to decide for themselves, the question I asked myself was ‘what if Victoria was ill and a 17-year-old donor could help save her life?’ If the boot was on the other foot, I know what I would want.’
The charity’s bone marrow register is just one of two in the world that accept under-18 donors.
Anthony Nolan chief executive Henny Braund said the teenagers’ donation was ‘genuinely impressive.’
He added: ‘It shows both what a special young woman she is, and how teenagers can be sufficiently mature, caring and engaged with the world around them to help save an unwell stranger.’
At the age of three, Evan was diagnosed at the Stollery Children’s Hospital with a form of leukaemia and bone marrow failure.
A donor was found in the international cord bank, and transferred to the young cancer patient.
“Just to know that there are other options. When you find out the only option is stem cell, you’re depending on other people,” said Evan’s mom Jill, of relying on the stem-cell adult donor system, as the donor has to make time for the procedure.
“This brings more options to the table.”
Now Edmonton’s Lois Hole Hospital for Women (LHHW) will collect and store umbilical cord blood, increasing the chance of treatment for thousands of patients across the country.
Edmonton mothers will be able to donate to the public cord blood bank in 2014, says the National Cord Blood Bank run by the Canadian Blood Services.
Dr. Graham Sher says ethnicity is key in finding a match. A national cord bank will significantly widen that scope, he said.
The cost to draw from the Canadian bank is expected to be a fraction of the $42,000 it costs per dose from the international bank, although officials say the exact cost has yet to be determined.
Funding came from a combined effort from provincial and territorial ministries, totalling $36 million.
Canadian Blood Services will raise the $12 million in cash to complete the project through the ‘For All Canadians’ fundraising campaign.
That includes a $1.5 million donation from Marshall Eliuk, who says he too wouldn’t be alive today without the help of Canadian Blood Services.
The city’s cord blood bank will be named after Eliuk.
“I wouldn’t be here right now. I thought I owed it to them. And this stem cell research is going to save a lot of lives in the future,” he said.
“We had this $1.5 million we can spend, so we thought why not donate it.”
Evan, meanwhile, says she is enjoying doing things all normal five-year-olds do, like playing soccer and hockey, and going to school.
“Our lives went from normal, to upside down, to normal again,” Jill said.
“We wouldn’t have survived without these blood and platelet donations, and I hope people understand that.”
Starting next year, expectant mothers will be asked to sign a consent form to donate the cord blood, as part of a testing phase to ensure quality before the bank launches later in the year.
The LHHW is one of four hospitals in the country, and the only one in Alberta, to serve as a collection site.
There will also be sites in Ottawa, Vancouver and Brampton.
Adriana Johnson, owner of Newtown’s Spa Naturelle, demonstrates her new, cutting-edge Apple Stem Cell Skin Rejuvenation treatment during a one-year anniversary open house December 1.
Adriana Johnson, owner of Newtown’s Spa Naturelle, demonstrates her new, cutting-edge Apple Stem Cell Skin Rejuvenation treatment during a one-year anniversary open house December 1.
Adriana Johnson, owner of Spa Naturelle, a holistic skincare boutique located in Newtown, launched the cutting-edge Apple Stem Cell Skin Rejuvenation treatment by demonstrating the service at her spa on December 1 during her one-year anniversary Open House.
Ms Johnson said she was happy to have had a successful first year.
“It’s been a great year, and for the first time I can do what I think brings the best results for my clients,” she said in a release. “Introducing organic skincare alternatives and state-of-the-art treatments from Europe, such as the Apple Stem Cell Skin Rejuvenation, has been a great success.”
The Apple Stem Cell treatment is offered exclusively to the area at Spa Naturelle. In the industry this service is also referred to as the “Hollywood Red Carpet Ready Treatment” and is drawing clients’ attention.
Ms Johnson also announced the addition of therapeutic massage by Diedre Farley, formerly of Ricci’s, and Reiki energy treatments by Mary Lee-Conte.
Spa Naturelle is located at 43 South Main Street. Call 203-426-7005 or visit the website www.naturelleskin.com for information and seasonal promotions.
An international team of researchers from the University of Copenhagen have successfully developed an innovative 3D method to grow miniature pancreas from progenitor cells. The future goal is to use this model to help in the fight against diabetes. The research results has just been published in the scientific journal Development.
Professor Anne Grapin-Botton and her team at the Danish Stem Cell Centre have developed a three-dimensional culture method which enables the efficient expansion of pancreatic cells. The new method allows the cell material from mice to grow vividly in picturesque tree-like structures. The method offers huge long term potential in producing miniature human pancreas from human stem cells. These human miniature organs would be valuable as models to test new drugs fast and effective – and without the use of animal models.
“The new method allows the cell material to take a three-dimensional shape enabling them to multiply more freely. It’s like a plant where you use effective fertilizer, think of the laboratory like a garden and the scientist being the gardener,” says Anne Grapin-Botton.
The cells do not thrive and develop if they are alone, and a minimum of four pancreatic cells close together is required for subsequent organoid development.
“We found that the cells of the pancreas develop better in a gel in three-dimensions than when they are attached and flattened at the bottom of a culture plate. Under optimal conditions, the initial clusters of a few cells have proliferated into 40,000 cells within a week. After growing a lot, they transform into cells that make either digestive enzymes or hormones like insulin and they self-organize into branched pancreatic organoids that are amazingly similar to the pancreas,” adds Anne Grapin-Botton.
The scientists used this system to discover that the cells of the pancreas are sensitive to their physical environment such as the stiffness of the gel and to contact with other cells.
The research results has just been published in the scientific journal Development.
Pancreas and diabetes connection
An effective cellular therapy for diabetes is dependent on the production of sufficient quantities of functional beta-cells. Recent studies have enabled the production of pancreatic precursors but efforts to expand these cells and differentiate them into insulin-producing beta-cells have proved a challenge.
“We think this is an important step towards the production of cells for diabetes therapy, both to produce mini-organs for drug testing and insulin-producing cells as spare parts. We show that the pancreatic cells care not only about how you feed them but need to be grown in the right physical environment. We are now trying to adapt this method to human stem cells,” adds Anne Grapin-Botton.
Although induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are derived without destroying a human embryo, and thereby avoid the most contentious issue besetting stem cell research, they still raise ethical concerns. When asked to voice these concerns, patients raise points about privacy, transparency, consent, the “immortalization” of cell lines, and the commercialization of stem cells. Nonetheless, patients also give iPSC research “broad endorsement,” according to a team of bioethicists at Johns Hopkins University.
These bioethics specialists convened several focus groups among patients who had received treatment at Johns Hopkins. These patients indicated that they were largely in favor of participating in iPSC research, even if personal benefit was unlikely. At the same time, however, many participants revealed that they had strong feelings about the ways stem cell research might be conducted, and the uses stem cell research might serve. Patients even suggested that they would weigh these issues when considering whether to participate in stem cell research.
These results were detailed January 2 in the journal Cell Stem Cell, in an article entitled “Patients’ Attitudes toward the Donation of Biological Materials for the Derivation of Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells.” The article highlights the importance that patients place on prior informed consent.
Consent was highly important for patients in all five of the focus groups that were convened. Some patients even suggested that proper informed consent could compensate for other concerns.
There was a “strong desire among participants to have full disclosure of the anticipated uses,” the report notes, with some participants wanting to be able to veto certain uses of their cells. The authors acknowledge the “practical difficulties” of this request but hope that their findings will “prompt investigation into creative approaches to meeting these desires.”
When exploring attitudes toward donating biological materials for iPSC research, the bioethicists found that patients hoped that their selfless motivations would somehow survive the research’s eventual commercialization. The report quotes one participant as saying, “It won’t be just taken to become a money maker and the very people who need it the most will no longer be able to benefit from it” and another, “…it was a donation. It’s a humanitarian effort.”
By appreciating the thoughts and sentiments of potential study participants, noted the report, researchers may be better equipped to develop policies for “consent, collection, and use of biological materials for deriving iPSCs.” According to Jeremy Sugarman, the senior author of the report and the Harvey M. Meyerhoff Professor of Bioethics and Medicine at the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, “Bioethicists, as well as stem cell researchers and policy-makers, have discussed the ethical issues of induced pluripotent stem cells at length, but we didn’t have any systematic information about what patients think about these issues.” Patients’ views, emphasized Sugarman, are “a huge part of the equation if the potential of this research is to be fully realized.”
Image of three human mesenchymal stem cells. The ATP in the cells is glowing green. The phosphate from the biomaterial (calcium phosphate) that is taken up by the cells is used to make more ATP, which is traditionally the source of energy for the cells.
With the help of biomimetic matrices, a research team led by bioengineers at the University of California, San Diego has discovered exactly how calcium phosphate can coax stem cells to become bone-building cells. This work is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciencesthe week of Jan. 6, 2014.
UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering professor Shyni Varghese and colleagues have traced a surprising pathway from these biomaterials to bone formation. Their findings will help them refine the design of biomaterials that encourage stem cells to give rise to new bone. The researchers say their study may also point out new targets for treating bone defects and bone metabolic disorders such as major fractures and osteoporosis.
The materials are built to mimic the body’s own cellular niches, in which undifferentiated or “blank-slate” stem cells from bone marrow transform into specific bone-forming cells. “We knew for years that calcium phosphate-based materials promote osteogenic differentiation of stem cells, but none of us knew why,” Varghese said.
“As engineers, we want to build something that is reproducible and consistent,” she explained, “so we need to know how building factors contribute to this end.”
The researchers found that when phosphate ions gradually dissolve from these materials, they are taken up by the stem cells and used for the production of ATP, a key metabolic molecule. An ATP metabolic product called adenosine then signals the stem cells to commit to becoming bone-forming cells.
Varghese said it was a surprise to her team that “the biomaterials were connected to metabolic pathways. And we didn’t know how these metabolic pathways could influence stem cells’ commitment to bone formation.”
While the PNAS findings only apply to bone building, Varghese and her students at UC San Diego are working on a variety of projects to understand how stem cells thrive and differentiate into a variety of cell types. With this information, they hope to design biomaterials that can be used to help transform stem cells into tissues that may someday replace diseased or degenerated bone, muscle, or blood vessels.
Stem cell research may seem like an unusual endeavor for engineers, but tissue construction and the development of biomaterials have become one more type of “building” in the engineering repertoire, Varghese said.
Research from Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey demonstrates that using zebrafish to identify self-renewing tumor stem cells in prostate cancers may be more beneficial than using traditional experimental models when aiming to predict response to therapy.
Prostate cancers are suggested to contain self-renewing tumor stem cells that have the ability to grow uncontrollably and spread. Identified as tumor-initiating cells (TICs), research has shown that these cells are found to be resistant to standard chemotherapy. A desirable treatment strategy is to develop therapies that would effectively target the self-renewing capabilities of the TICs, which requires better identification of TICs themselves. Utilizing prostate cancer samples from patients diagnosed at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey between 2008 and 2012, investigators used mouse and zebrafish models to identify the frequencies of TICs from each patient’s prostate cancer cells. The research appears in the journal The Prostate.
Typically, TICs are identified through more mechanical methods, such as cell sorting or dye staining. Cancer Institute investigators developed a new method to enrich for TICs through remodeling of the environment of prostate cells in a laboratory setting by allowing them to adhere to collagen – a glue-like protein that holds together skin, connective, and prostate tissues in the human body. In collaboration between multiple Cancer Institute laboratories, prostate tumors cells from patients are first identified with fluorescent markers in the laboratory of Cancer Institute Director, Robert S. DiPaola, professor of medicine at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. These tumor cells are then enriched for TICs by collagen adhesion at the laboratory of the Cancer Institute Chief Scientific Officer, Joseph R. Bertino, university professor of medicine and pharmacology at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. The TIC frequencies for these tumor cells are then examined in mice and zebrafish assays.
According to The American Diabetes Association there are over 25 million people in the US living with diabetes. These patients are suffering from complications such as heart disease,stroke, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney disease, neuropathy and amputation. Since adult stem cells have the ability to differentiate into many different types of cells, such as those required for proper pancreatic functioning, StemGenex® believes there is hope for these patients.
StemGenex® is currently studying ways to regenerate insulin producing cells within thepancreas by using adult stem cells. By harvesting adipose derived stem cells through a mini-liposuction procedure, the doctors can then minimally manipulate the stem cells in an on-site lab before reintroducing them back into the patient’s body, the very same day. Once the stem cells are reintroduced, StemGenex believes they may differentiate into insulin producing cells of the pancreas. StemGenex is studying outcomes such as better glycemic control, decreases in insulin requirement, as well as reductions in HBA1C andtriglyceride levels.
Stem cell treatment studies are currently being offered by StemGenex to patients diagnosed with Diabetes as well as degenerative neurological diseases. StemGenex takes a unique approach of compassion and empowerment while providing access to the latest stem cell therapies for diseases including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Diabetes, strokerecovery, COPD and others. Rita Alexander, founder of StemGenex and the company’s first stem cell patient, insists that all patients be treated like they are one of our loved ones. “Hope, compassion, and the relentless pursuit for an end to these diseases are our primary focus.”
StemGenex® is extremely proud of its reputation as a leader in the stem cell industry as well as its dedication to putting patients first. StemGenex actively tracks and posts its patient satisfaction rates on its website in multiple categories as a way to share with the public how patients have been positively affected through these stem cell studies. These statistics are updated monthly and can be found here: StemGenex Patient Satisfaction Ratings
When Judy Loar, 68, could not bear to walk any longer due to excruciating pain in both of her knees from degenerative joint disease, she did what most people in her condition do, she went in for a surgical knee replacement.
At that time, Loar encountered a near death experience on the operating table, as a result of complications from surgery. ”
I almost died, I spent 11 days in the ICU,” Loar said.
After being released, there was the added disappointment when Loar found out her knee cap had been set incorrectly. Going through surgery again to fix her other knee was not an option, so Loar started researching other alternatives to ease the agony of bone-on-bone friction caused by her condition.
“I really did my research, because I knew I could go through another major surgery,” said Loar who became a patient of Dr. Dennis Lox.
Dr. Lox is the founder and medical director of Tampa-based Florida Spine and Sports Medicine Center, and one of the world’s leading doctors specializing in using stem cell therapy as an alternative to successfully treat debilitating injuries or conditions.
Loar describes the procedure as painless, with no down time.
“I was actually awake during the whole procedure, discussing politics and laughing,” she said.
During the procedure Dr. Lox is able to harvest stem cells from a patient’s own body fat and inject them right into the problem area.
“Your body can’t put them where they need to heal yourself – so what we are doing is assisting the body, so it can heal itself,” Dr. Lox said.
Lox says this is the future in medicine, and as more doctors become trained to help a patient’s body heal itself, the uses for stem cell replacement, in his words, “could be endless”.
Hematopoietic stem cells (the progenitor cells of the blood system) divide significantly faster in females than males, driven by the female hormone estrogen, said researchers led by those from Baylor College of Medicine in a report that appears online in the journal Nature.
“I think this changes how we think about hematopoietic stem cells and gender, and reveals a new area of biology that these stem cells are involved,” said Dr. Daisuke Nakada, assistant professor of molecular and human genetics at Baylor and a corresponding author of the report. The second corresponding author is Dr. Sean J. Morrison of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.
Hematopoietic stem cells are the progenitors from which other forms of blood cells differentiate. Nakada and others in his laboratory were looking at the rate at which hematopoietic stem cells divide. When they separated the results by the sex of the mice, they found a distinct difference.
Female stem cells divided faster
“No one had expected a sex difference in the blood system at the stem cell level,” he said. In short, the blood system stem cells in female mice divided at a higher rate than did those in males.
When they gave male and female mice estradiol (a female hormone produced mainly in the ovaries), the rate of cell division increased in both males and females. Removing the ovaries in female mice reduced the rate of hematopoietic stem cells division to that of the male. Castrating the male mice had no effect.
During pregnancy, increasing levels of estrogen in the female mice increased division of hematopoietic stem cells, their frequency and production of red blood cells in the spleen. Hematopoietic stem cells expressed high levels of estrogen receptor alpha compared to differentiated blood cells. Deleting the estrogen receptor in the hematopoietic stem cells reduced the rate of cell division in the females but not the males. During pregnancy, this deletion lowered rates of stem cell division and frequency as well as formation of red blood cells in the spleen.
A large scale scientific collaboration led by France’s Pierre and Marie Curie University and national institute of health and medical research has generated significant advances in treatment for muscular dystrophies by targeting muscle stem cells.
Muscular dystrophy is a neurological disorder that progressively leads to skeletal muscle weakness and the death of muscle cells and tissue. While clinical trials of new therapeutics are progressing for treating neurological diseases, scientific researchers working jointly under the EU-financed ENDOSTEM project investigated cardiac stem cell therapy as a tool for efficient muscle tissue repair and regeneration.
ENDOSTEM research focuses on cardiac muscle stem cells as the cardiac related effects of muscular dystrophy weaken the heart, preventing the cardiac muscle from pumping blood efficiently. Their findings represent critical and pivotal insights for muscular diseases and more common cardiac related diseases, where stem cell activation, scarring and fibrosis and immune modulation are critical for the restoration of tissue functionality.
The team identified endogenous cardiac stem cells as a means to stimulate repair and regenerate damaged heart tissue following myocardial damage which can cause acute heart failure. Following damage, muscle tissue is infiltrated by a collection of immune cells whose interplay protect against foreign infection and then stimulate tissue repair. In larger tissue damage, the body also has the mechanism of filling the ‘gap’ with scar tissue to maintain integrity, but not functionality. By understanding and modulating this environment, ENDOSTEM researchers sought to maintain tissue protection, with the additional aim to slow scarring and permit restoration of tissue functionality.
A key issue that this project addresses is the tissue environment in which endogenous stem cells are activated. Muscle degeneration and fibrosis can lead to altered immune responses which eventually negatively affect stem cell functions.
The project team will develop novel strategies for effective drug delivery to the cardiac muscle with molecules that can be used to therapeutically target the heart and neighbouring vascular, inflammatory and fibrotic cell types.
SANTA MONICA, Calif., Jan. 22, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — BioLeonhardt, a Leonhardt Ventures company based in Los Angeles, will unveil its implantable Stem Cell Pump at the 9th Annual Cell Therapy for Cardiovascular Disease meeting at Columbia University in New York on Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 10:30 am.
BioLeonhardt – Has developed a programmable implantable stem cell infusion pump and electrical stimulator combination for treating advanced heart failure. The stem cell pump is implanted in the patient’s abdomen and has a silicone septum which allows re-loading via a micro needle syringe of stem cells, genes, growth factors and nutrient hydrogels. The pump is attached to a combination coaxial reinforced infusion catheter and electrical conduction lead which has its tip anchored into the patient’s damaged heart tissue.
BioLeonhardt is teamed with Core Manufacturing LLC, an Alfred Mann Companies spin out, that is staffed with members that have a long history developing related devices including the Pacesetter Systems heart pacer sold to Siemens then St. Jude Medical, the MiniMed implantable insulin pump sold to Medtronic and the Advanced Bionics implantable pain relief pumps sold to Boston Scientific - www.core-manufacturing.com
BioLeonhardt intends to bring to market a therapy for heart failure utilizing their own stem cell pump and to offer the pump as well to other researchers with different therapies.
BioLeonhardt’s own proposed method to treating heart failure:
2. Treat Scar - Muscle derived cardiac progenitor cells in center of scar, cardiac stem cells or iPS cells at rim edge of scar, temporary implantable circulatory assist pump to allow heart to rest (www.cardiobridge.com or www.procyrion.com).
“For the past 14 years all stem cell related studies have been limited to one single half hour session of injections or infusions. We believe superior results can be obtained by repeat dosing utilizing our programmable implantable pump. BioLeonhardt is designing a controlled study for heart failure with intent to prove this hypothesis,” stated Howard J. Leonhardt, Founder, CEO, BioLeonhardt and lead inventor for the new technology.
BioLeonhardt has granted an exclusive license for myoblast transplantation with their pump to another Leonhardt founded company Bioheart, Inc. that has been in clinical trials utilizing selected immature myoblasts to treat heart failure since early 2001. Over 400 patients have been enrolled in various myoblast trials worldwide. New myoblast related independent trial results will be presented at the conference this week.
Electrical stimulation technology for these studies will be provided by MyoStim Pacers - www.myostimpacers.com. Electrical stimulation has demonstrated an ability to recruit stem cells to injury sites and differentiate them into useful tissues while improving blood flow and thus healing scars, in both pre-clinical and clinical studies for various applications.
Summary of myoblast transplantation data for heart failure clinical studies:
GAINESVILLE – In the ground-floor labyrinth that connects UF Health Shands Hospital to the UF health sciences campus, a handful of scientists are super excited about research that one day could mean the end of long waiting lines for kidney transplant patients.
The promise lies in a soft sponge-like structure that is about the size of a bar of soap and is considered a “scaffold” for building healthy human kidneys.
The soap-sized structure is a baby pig’s kidney, drained of its blood and cells. Over the course of three days, chemicals strip the kidney of swine cells so it can be injected with human stem cells.
The idea of using stem cells to grow new organs is not new. Scientists have been plugging away at it for two decades, said Dr. Edward Ross, a nephrologist and professor of medicine at UF Health.
“The dream of taking patients’ stem cells and growing an organ never came to fruition,” Ross said. “Short of growing the organ de novo is (the idea) to somehow nudge the cells along to some sort of biological scaffold from a creature.”
Pigs’ kidneys are similar to those of humans in size and basic anatomy, so scientists have been studying the concept of using the pig’s kidney as a scaffold. They also have experimented with rabbits and rats.
Scientists also have successfully grown human stem cells with other, “easier” organs such as the bladder and trachea, Ross said.
“(The kidney) is one of the most difficult because of the complexity of the organ,” he said.
The scaffold is not, however, just an inert skeleton. It contains proteins with chemical signals that guide human stem cells once they are implanted, or “seeded,” inside the scaffold. The kidney contains 30 different cell types, so the stem cells can differentiate into these types once inside the scaffold.
In a major breakthrough, a Qatar Biomedical Research Institute (QBRI) team has developed a new line of treatment for diabetes using stem cells.
The world’s first clinical trial for diabetes using stem cells will begin at the Hamad General Hospital later this year.
QBRI researchers have claimed that the findings would realise the dream of providing personalised medical care to diabetics in the country.
In an exclusive interview with Gulf Times, QBRI executive director Dr Abdelali Haoudi said the first clinical trial for diabetes using stem cells would begin at Hamad Hospital “most probably in six months from now”.
QBRI Genomic Medicine and Systems Biology Research Centre scientific director Dr Philippe Froguel and Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Research Centre scientific director Dr Nagy Habib were also present at the interview.
Dr Haoudi said that research was going on in full swing at the clinical laboratories in Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar (WCMC-Q) and Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP). “This will be the first-of-its-kind approach in the world in the treatment for diabetes,” he said.
“It will be followed by stem cell treatment for many other diseases such as cancer. QBRI will be the catalyst for people from other parts of the world to come to Qatar for treatment of rare diseases at Hamad hospital and the upcoming Sidra Medical and Research Centre.”
QBRI scientists Dr Nagy Habib and Dr Philippe Froguel, engaged in genomic medicine and stem cell research, observed that the top priority for research in Qatar was diabetes, followed by cancer.
Stem cells in a laboratory: the red areas are cells beginning to specialise as heart muscle. Photograph: Medica Research Council
Woman foud to have heart condition after accident
Adele Johnson was 26 when she was involved in a motorway accident in 2009. She sustained only minor injuries and was able to walk away from the crash. After several weeks she was found to have a heart condition.
Johnson’s condition initially baffled doctors, but a cardiologist provided a diagnosis: she had long QT syndrome, an incurable, potentially lethal inherited heart condition.
“It had never been spotted and it was only later, when the rest of my family was tested, that we discovered that my father and two of my three sisters also had long QT,” said Johnson, who is now training to be a youth worker.
Long QT causes serious disruptions to the heartbeat and is associated with a range of symptoms. At its most serious, the condition can set off a problem called an arrhythmia, which can result in heart failure. Some families discover they are affected by long QT only when a member, sometimes a child, dies. About 30,000 people are thought to have the condition in the UK.
Treatments can mitigate the worst effects of long QT, but these can have serious side-effects. Now, however, hopes of countering long QT’s worst effects have been boosted by scientists working on a pioneer project involving stem cell technology. They have re-created pulsating clumps of patients’ heart cells in laboratories to use as test beds for new treatments. A heartbeat has five component waves, called P, Q, R, S and T. In long QT, the gap between the Q and T waves is abormally long, which leads to heartbeat instabilities.
Advanced Cell Technology Inc. is reportedly close to releasing news on its first possible medical treatment, even as the company deals with lawsuits, a securities probe and most recently, management changes.It’s a mixture of toil and trouble that the small biotechnology company has juggled through much of its 20-year history as it has used stem cells to create treatments for difficult diseases.”When I look at the science, the science behind this company is fantastic,” said Jason Kolbert, managing director of Maxim Group LLC and the only Wall Street analyst following Advanced Cell. “The execution, the historical execution behind ACTC, has been a disaster.”Founded on animal cloning discoveries made by scientists at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Advanced Cell focuses on embryonic stem cells, some of the earliest cells formed by a developing embryo.
Over the years, the company used its know-how to clone an endangered ox known as a gaur. It reported on a technique that allowed it to extract cells from an embryo without damage.
More recently, the company focused on using embryonic stem cells to generate retinal pigment epithelial, or RPE, cells, which are found at the back of the eye.
Advanced Cell collaborators began transplanting the RPE cells in 2011 into the eyes of patients with two types of macular degeneration, a disorder that causes vision loss. Trials are underway at medical centers in the United States and the United Kingdom to determine if the treatments are safe.
As of mid-January, the company reported 32 patients had been treated with its cells. News on general results from the trial, the first of three phases of human testing typically required by the Food and Drug Administration, is “imminent” and will be followed by an in-depth presentation at a conference or in a medical journal, Advanced Cell spokesman David Schull said.
The company hopes to move into the second phase of human testing during the second half of 2014, according to Mr. Schull.
“The primary focus at this time is to advance cell therapies into the mid-stage clinical studies,” he said.
Yet with no products on the market and little revenue from licensing its technology to others, Advanced Cell also has financial challenges.
In two Nature papers (here and here) published today researchers report the astounding finding of reprogramming differentiated cells back to a pluripotent or even totipotent state simply by exposing the cells to extreme environmental stress.
No genes. No proteins. No nuclear transfer. Just stressing the heck out of the cells, for example, by exposing them to acid. Nature writer David Cyranoski entitled his news piece on these papers “Acid bath offers easy path to stem cells”, which I thought was clever.
The authors report the creation of iPS like cells via sub-lethal stress and have named the cells stimulus-trigged acquisition of pluripotency (STAP) cells.
I agree with Cyranoski that these new papers on STAP cells are like to fuel a long-running debate. I also later in this post raise 6 key questions about this finding that should for now somewhat temper the over-exuberance that I’m hearing.
For now, the two papers are making a big splash. Stimulus-trigged fate conversion of somatic cells into pluripotency has first author Haruko Obokata and senior author Charles Vacanti. The second paper in the same issue of Nature and also with Obokata as first author has Teruhiko Wakayama as senior author: Bidirectional developmental potential in reprogrammed cells with acquired pluripotency.
What to make of these papers?
The second paper seems to be really just showing that the STAP cells are in fact not just pluripotent, but totipotent and can make extraembryonic tissues too. That seems surprising.
The first paper on STAP cells is really where we need to dig in deeper at this point I think.
The schematic above from the paper’s Fig. 1a shows the key protocol employed. By doing something akin to hitting the cells over the head with a sledgehammer of a pH 5.7 (physiological pH is more typically thought of as around 7.4), they report the blood cells of 1-week old mice turned on expression of an Oct-GFP reporter as they floated around in clusters in the media.
Mauro Ferrari, who heads the Institute for Academic Medicine at the Houston Methodist Hospital in Texas, is the Italian government’s nominee to chair a committee on the controversial Stamina Foundation.
Top scientists in Italy have called on the health minister Beatrice Lorenzin to reconsider the composition of the new scientific advisory committee she has proposed to assess a controversial stem-cell therapy offered by the Stamina Foundation.Their move follows a renewed media frenzy around the affair, prompted by statements made to the press and television by the committee’s proposed president, Mauro Ferrari, shortly after he was nominated on 28 December.
The Stamina therapy, which has not been scientifically proven to be effective in a clinical trial, involves extracting mesenchymal stem cells from bone marrow of a patient, manipulating them and then reinjecting them into the same patient’s blood or spinal fluid. Stamina, based in Brescia, has already treated more than 80 patients for a wide range of serious diseases.
Stamina’s practices have been widely criticized by experts both in Italy and outside, and the first government-appointed scientific committee to rule on Stamina prepared a detailed report describing the Stamina protocol as without a scientific basis, ineffective and dangerous. However, a regional court declared that committee unlawfully biased on 4 December. But after that committee’s report was leaked to the press on 20 December (see ‘Leaked files slam stem-cell therapy’), many families of patients who claim to have been damaged by the therapy announced that they had brought charges for damages against Stamina and its president Davide Vannoni. Both have denied any wrongdoing.
In response to the court findings, minister Lorenzin nominated Ferrari to chair a new committee. Ferrari, who heads the Institute for Academic Medicine at the Houston Methodist Hospital in Texas, told journalists that he was neither “for nor against” the Stamina method.
Eight stem cell scientists at UCSD have been awarded a total of $8.165 million to fund research tackling significant, unresolved issues in human stem cell biology.The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine’s Independent Citizens Oversight Committee (ICOC) voted Wednesday to award the following Basic Biology Awards to:
Maike Sander, MD, School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, was awarded $1.161 million
Christian Metallo, PhD, Bioengineering, Jacobs School of Engineering, awarded $1,124,834
Cornelis Murré, PhD, Biological Sciences, awarded $1.161 million
Wei Wang, PhD, Chemistry and Biochemistry, awarded $1.161 million
David Cheresh, PhD, School of Medicine, Department of Pathology, UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center, awarded $1.161 million
Miles Wilkinson, PhD, School of Medicine, Department of Reproductive Medicine, awarded $619,200
Lawrence Goldstein, PhD, School of Medicine, Departments of Cellular and Molecular Medicine and Neurosciences, and director of the UC San Diego Stem Cell Program, $1,161 million
Dianne McKay, MD, School of Medicine, Department of Medicine, $615,639
The CIRM Basic Biology Awards V, Track 2: “Exploratory Concepts Awards” were designed to target projects testing highly novel hypotheses which, if proven, have the potential to dramatically and rapidly advance the field. Studies supported through both tracks of the Basic Biology Awards V will form the foundation for future translational and clinical advances, enabling the realization of the full potential of human stem cells and reprogrammed cells for therapies and as tools for biomedical innovation.
UC San Diego is also part of a new Center of Excellence in Stem Cell Genomics, awarded $40 million in funding to bring together experts and investigators from seven different major California institutions. Stanford University and the Salk Institute are joint principal investigators; other collaborators include The Scripps Research Institute, the J. Craig Venter Institute and Illumina, Inc. – all in San Diego. UC Santa Cruz will run the data coordination and management component, enabling the research to be shared with investigators around the world.
The Center of Excellence will focus on bridging the fields of genomics – studying the complete genetic make-up of a cell or organism – with stem cell research. The goal is to use these tools to gain a deeper understanding of the disease processes in cancer, diabetes, heart disease and mental health, and ultimately to try and find safer and more effective ways of using stem cells in medical research and therapy.
The new $8.165 million in Basic Biology grant funding brings the total funding to UC San Diego to $139,976,498 since CIRM’s inception in 2006.
Tissue that is typically discarded in routine hip replacement operations may offer a rich untapped source of stem cells that could be banked for later use in regenerative medicine, where patients’ own cells are used to treat disease or repair failing organs.
This was the implication of a new study led by the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia, published online recently in the journal Stem Cells Translational Medicine.
Study leader Prof. Melissa Knothe Tate and colleagues say, given the tens of thousands of hip replacements performed every year, their findings could have “profound implications” for clinical use.
Currently, to grow new bone or tissue after an infection, injury or the removal of a tumor, if the patient has not preserved stem cells in a cell bank (which is the case for the vast majority of older adults), the stem cells have to come from a donor, or the patient has to undergo surgery to have them harvested from their own bone marrow.
Prof. Knothe Tate explains how their study findings, which now need to be tested clinically, could offer a new source of stem cells for older patients:
“In hip replacement surgery, the femoral head and part of the neck are resected to accommodate the neck of the implant. Typically this tissue is discarded, yet it may provide an untapped source of autologous stem cells for ageing adults who were born a generation too early to benefit from banking of tissues like umbilical cord blood at birth.”
Discarded hip replacement and bone marrow stem cells ‘remarkably similar’
For their study, the team collected periosteum derived stem cells (PDCs) from rheumatoidarthritis or osteoarthritis patients aged between 30 and 72 years who had undergone joint replacement surgery. The periosteum is the membrane that covers the outer surface of bone.
When they compared the PDCs with commercially available bone marrow stem cells cultured under the same lab conditions, they found “remarkable similarities.”
TORONTO, ONTARIO — (Marketwired) — 01/30/14 — Stem Cell Therapeutics Corp. (TSX VENTURE: SSS)(OTCQX: SCTPF), an immuno-oncology company developing cancer stem cell-related therapeutics, is pleased to announce that its Board of Directors has elected Dr. Calvin R. Stiller as Chairman of the Board. Dr. Stiller has been a member of the Board since July 2011 and served as Lead Director and Chair of the Governance and Nominating Committee.
Dr. Stiller is well known in the biotechnology community having served in various capacities in the public and private sector. He was the founding Chair of Trillium Therapeutics, which recently merged with Stem Cell Therapeutics, as well as Verio Therapeutics, which was acquired by FATE Therapeutics (NASDAQ: FATE). He was also the founding chair of Oracle Services Network, which he grew from 50 employees to over 800 at the time of its acquisition by SYKES Corporation (NASDAQ: SYKE). Dr. Stiller also served on the Board of Allelix Biopharmaceuticals and was instrumental in its very successful merger with NPS Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: NPSP), where he remained a director for several years. He currently serves on the board of Revera, one of Canada’s largest HealthCare companies, where he chairs the Investment Committee. Dr. Stiller is recognized as co-founder of the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (of which he is Chair), MaRS Discovery District (of which he is a director), and the Canadian-California Cancer Stem Cell Initiative. He is an Officer of the Order of Canada, a member of the Order of Ontario, and a laureate of the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame.
“I am pleased to be asked to chair the Board of this most exciting company that, in the past nine months, has emerged from the shadows to become a potential leader in the area of immunotherapy targeting cancer stem cells. The science behind the assets of this company is truly spectacular and the quality of the people responsible for the science, including Dr. John Dick, who has been credited with the discovery of the leukemic cancer stem cell and who serves on the company’s Scientific Advisory Board, are without peers. Management’s ability to raise the unprecedented amount of 33 million from some of the smartest investors on the continent, largely on the back of a preclinical asset, is quite remarkable. So, to be asked to Chair a company with first-class scientific assets, a talented management team, a principled and knowledgeable board, and backed by some of the shrewdest investors, is a real honor.”
Dr. Niclas Stiernholm, the company’s President and CEO, commented “Management is very pleased that Dr. Stiller has assumed the Chairmanship. We worked well together in a highly successful relationship at Trillium, and more recently during our time here at Stem Cell Therapeutics, under his oversight as a member of the Board and Lead Director. We look forward to a seamless path forward for the company.”
Stem cell researchers are heralding a “major scientific discovery”, with the potential to start a new age of personalised medicine.
Scientists in Japan showed stem cells can now be made quickly just by dipping blood cells into acid.
Stem cells can transform into any tissue and are already being trialled for healing the eye, heart and brain.
The latest development, published in the journal Nature, could make the technology cheaper, faster and safer.
The human body is built of cells with a specific role – nerve cells, liver cells, muscle cells – and that role is fixed.
However, stem cells can become any other type of cell, and they have become a major field of research in medicine for their potential to regenerate the body.
Embryos are one, ethically charged, source of stem cells. Nobel prize winning research also showed that skin cells could be “genetically reprogrammed” to become stem cells (termed induced pluripotent stem cells).
Now a study shows that shocking blood cells with acid could also trigger the transformation into stem cells – this time termed STAP (stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency) cells.
Dr Haruko Obokata, from the Riken Centre for Developmental Biology in Japan, said she was “really surprised” that cells could respond to their environment in this way.
She added: “It’s exciting to think about the new possibilities these findings offer us, not only in regenerative medicine, but cancer as well.”
Directors of the California stem cell agency today approved a $40 million proposal ultimately targeted at creating medical treatments tailored to a patient’s genetic makeup and making the state a world leader in stem cell genomics.
The proposal by a seven-member consortium led by Stanford University was approved on a 6-2 vote of the 29-member board. Most of those not voting were disqualified because of conflicts of interest.The action came despite charges by Stanford’s competitors that the grant review process was tainted by unfairness, apparent preferential treatment and manipulation of scientific scores.
The award is the largest research grant that the agency has made in its nine-year history although the cash is being divided among the seven participants over five years.The board added $7 million to the Stanford award to help possibly fund proposals from institutions that lost out in the round. They would have to apply to the consortium, which might have their own proposals in the same areas already underway.
The stem cell agency has high hopes for the genomics project, which is supposed to provide resources for all researchers in California. CIRM President Alan Trounson has predicted that the effort will build “an effective stem-cell genomics infrastructure that will be unique in the world, thus positioning California as a leader in this critical area of basic and translational research while genomic technologies build steam in the next five years.”
In addition to Stanford, the other enterprises involved its proposal include UC Santa Cruz, the Venter and the Salk institutes and Illumina, Inc., all in San Diego, A complete list was not immediately available this afternoon because the stem cell agency withholds their names until after the board votes. They are expected to be disclosed shortly in an official press release.
CAMBRIDGE – Local girl Anne Hodgkinson is living every parent’s worst nightmare. Again.
When her daughter Katie Herron, now four years old, battled cancer as a toddler, the fight for the little girl’s health was a private, family affair. The youngster endured many months of cancer treatment and battled her way back to a healthy recovery.
That all changed last November.
The Cambridge family doesn’t worry about privacy anymore. They’re now telling everyone Katie’s acute lymphoblastic leukemia is back. Katie’s life depends on it.
Although the type of cancer that has taken hold of her body usually has a high success rate of responding to treatment, the Cambridge girl is among the small percentage of children who can’t beat the leukemia using standard treatment protocols.
Katie’s only life-saving option now is to find a stem cell donor match.
“We’ve got to find a match and we’ve go to find it soon,” explained an emotionally raw Hodgkinson, as she paced the hallways of Hamilton’s McMaster Children’s Hospital, where Katie has lived since the fall.
“We have to find a match. She is fighting for her life.”
It’s hoped a stem cell match would help reboot Katie’s blood by essentially wiping out her white blood cells and replacing them with a matched transplant of healthy white blood cells. The procedure would enable her body to fight for itself.
In desperation to save Katie’s life, Hodgkinson and her husband Paul Herron have turned to the community to help find a match.
A stem cell donor clinic has been set up for Saturday, Feb. 22 at the Cambridge Sports Park at 1001 Franklin Blvd., from 1 to 5 p.m.
The stem cell donor drive requires a mere swab of the cheek to become registered with the One Match Stem Cell and Marrow Network.
Although everyone is encouraged to become a registered stem cell donor, males between the ages of 17 and 35 are especially needed, as their stem cells have better results on patients post-transplant.
Prof. Abdul Ganiyu Ambali, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, said the institution was collaborating with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, U.S. on stem cell research.
This is contained in a statement signed by Mr Kunle Akogun, the Director, Corporate Affairs Unit of the University on Monday in Ilorin.
The statement said the vice chancellor was a one week visit to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, U.S.
It said that the collaboration with Wisconsin-Madison would afford the University a world class Stem Cell Research Laboratory.
It said Ambali visited the Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Prof. Rebecca Blank, and some world renowned experts on Stem Cell Research, including Prof. Su-Chun Zhang.
“The VC also met with other renowned stem cell researchers; Prof. Ralph Albrecht, Prof. Jeff Johnson and Prof. Tim Kamp,” it said.
“The VC had successfully secured commitment from the University of Wisconsin-Madison to partner UNILORIN and the university would ensure the structural development of the stem cell research centre.
“The VC had stressed the commitment of the University to the training of technical staff on stem cell research and related activities,” it said.
The statement noted that the University of Ilorin would be responsible for the provision of relevant regulations to support the development of the stem cell research centre.
It added that the university would also provide security and accommodation for all visiting staff of the University of Wisconsin-Madison after they arrived in Nigeria.
It noted that Ambali’s visit was in furtherance of the Federal Government’s mandate to the University as the only University designated in the North-central geopolitical zone for Bio-Technology research.
“The VC reiterated the resolve of the University to produce a critical mass of health professionals with competencies in management and control of common communicable and non-communicable diseases.
“We also want to translate research findings and generate funds through the commercialisation of key research outputs and foster national, regional and international linkages for collaborative research in partnership,” it said. (NAN)
One potential approach to reversing hair loss uses stem cells to regenerate the missing or dying hair follicles. But it hasn’t been possible to generate sufficient number of hair-follicle-generating stem cells – until now.
The epithelial stem cells, when implanted into immunocompromised mice, regenerated the different cell types of human skin and hair follicles, and even produced structurally recognizable hair shaft, raising the possibility that they may eventually enable hair regeneration in people.
Xu and his team, which includes researchers from Penn’s departments of Dermatology and Biology, as well as the New Jersey Institute of Technology, started with human skin cells called dermal fibroblasts. By adding three genes, they converted those cells into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), which have the capability to differentiate into any cell types in the body. They then converted the iPS cells into epithelial stem cells, normally found at the bulge of hair follicles.
Starting with procedures other research teams had previously worked out to convert iPSCs into keratinocytes, Xu’s team demonstrated that by carefully controlling the timing of the growth factors the cells received, they could force the iPSCs to generate large numbers of epithelial stem cells. In the Xu study, the team’s protocol succeeded in turning over 25% of the iPSCs into epithelial stem cells in 18 days. Those cells were then purified using the proteins they expressed on their surfaces.
Grace Century, an international research and private equity company based north of Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), recently announced that its stem cell bio banking project, Provia Laboratories, has completed the formation of its European subsidiary, Provia Laboratories Europe Limited, headquartered in the United Kingdom.
Scott Wolf, CEO of Grace Century stated, “We’re thrilled with the expansion plans of Provia, as well as the soon to be announced partnerships that will quickly aid the firm’s dominance in the bio banking of stem cells as well as its affiliated products.” Wolf added, “The scientific depth and expertise that Provia’s management team brings to this field, should help imprint the highest standards in stem cell bio banking in both the US and Europe.”
Howard Greenman, CEO of Provia Laboratories commented, “This is an important milestone in the company’s history. We spent 2013 validating our model in the US and we believe Europe to be a market of early adopters that embrace stem cells and their promising therapies quickly.”
Greenman further clarified, “For example, it’s estimated that five per cent of US families privately store stem cells from their child’s umbilical cord. We believe this number is considerably greater in many European markets including other markets such as the Middle East.”
While the expansion looks global for Provia Laboratories, they also have a very aggressive expansion plan for the United States market in 2014.
Grace Century specializes in “game-changing” life science and health related private equity projects.
Provia Laboratories, is a consumer health services company specializing in high quality stem cell bio banking (the collection, transport, processing, and cryogenic storage of biological specimens).
The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine is planning to invest up to $40 million in stem-cell genomic research, AP/Modern Healthcare reports.
According to AP/Modern Healthcare, stem-cell genomic research could “revolutionize” the medical field by creating more personalized treatments (AP/Modern Healthcare, 1/26).
Background on CIRM
In 2004, California voters approved Proposition 71, which created CIRM. The agency was launched to advance development of stem cell-based disease treatments.
Since 2004, CIRM has allocated about $1.7 billion to 68 institutions to support advances in stem-cell research and regenerative medicine (California Healthline, 3/11/13).
However, according to AP/Modern Healthcare, the institute has not yet developed any new therapies, which could pose problems when CIRM re-applies for additional funding in three years (AP/Modern Healthcare, 1/26).
Details of New Funding
Several scientists and business leaders from across the state are vying for the funding from CIRM.
According to the Sacramento Bee, six members of the agency’s board of directors, along with a number of out-of-state scientists, will review applications for the funding, and the full CIRM board will make an official decision on Wednesday (Jensen, Sacramento Bee, 1/26).
According to AP/Modern Healthcare, documents posted on CIRM’s website on Friday indicate that a group led by Michael Snyder, director of Stanford University’s Center for Genomics and Personalized Medicine, is expected to receive a $33 million grant (AP/Modern Healthcare, 1/26).