Recent Advances in Stem Cell Research
with Dr. David Schaffer & Dr. Kevin Whittlesey
Saturday June 20, 2015 at 11:00 AM
100 Genetics & Plant Biology, UC Berkeley
Join us for a two part talk on recent advances in stem cell Research
Molecular Elucidation and Engineering of Stem Cell Fate Decisions
David Schaffer, Ph.D.
Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Bioengineering, and the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute
Director, Berkeley Stem Cell Center
Learning the mechanisms that regulate stem cell behavior is critical for understanding the role of these powerful cells in normal function as well as for harnessing them to repair tissues damaged by disease or injury. In particular, discovering the signals that regulate whether stem cells replicate themselves or mature into a specific adult tissue is critical for developing therapies. This knowledge is required for efficient manufacturing of cells for implantation and for enhancing the chances the cells will survive and function the way we need to repair an organ. For example, this information can be harnessed to help implanted cells integrate into neighboring tissue or to even modulate the behavior of endogenous stem cells — the adult stem cells we all have naturally in all our tissues.
It has become increasingly clear that stem cell behavior is regulated not only by biochemical signals, but also by biophysical forces. The latter has been difficult to study due to the complexity of mimicking the way cells interact in real life in the lab. Recent work has demonstrated that synthetic materials can be harnessed to emulate and thereby study the effects of biophysical cues on cell function. For example, using engineered materials, we discovered that mechanical cues regulate the maturation of adult neural stem cells, as well as earlier stage stem cells known as pluripotent stem cells. We have learned what types of synthetic material work well to grow the desired type of cell in the lab in quantities large enough for therapy and primed for successful transplantation into patients.
Kevin Whittlesey, Ph.D.
Senior Science Officer
California Institute for Regenerative Medicine
The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) was created by Proposition 71 to accelerate the development of stem cell-based therapies for patients with unmet medical needs. The entire regenerative medicine field has seen tremendous advances in recent years, and CIRM is similarly seeing significant progress as many of our translational research programs are moving into clinical trials. In addition to a robust portfolio of earlier phase projects, CIRM is currently funding 11 projects which have received approval from the Food and Drug Administration to enroll patients in clinical trials and test these stem cell based therapies for their safety and effectiveness. We will provide an update on the clinical progress of stem cells and regenerative medicine therapeutic approaches to treat diseases such as diabetes, HIV/AIDS, heart disease, and retinal disease.
This free public talk is presented as part of the monthly Science at Cal Lecture Series
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