Stem cell

News

Jakub Tolar

Tolar Appointed VP for Clinical Affairs

July 13, 2018

The University of Minnesota Board of Regents has approved the appointment of Jakub Tolar to the newly created position of Vice President for Clinical Affairs at the University's Academic Health Center (AHC). Prof. Tolar had previously been named as Dean of the Medical School and Interim Vice President for Health Sciences; his new titles of VP for Clinical Affairs and Dean of the Medical School reflect continuing restructuring of the AHC, which is intended to streamline the oversight process. In addition to his roles as VP and Dean, Tolar is Director of the Stem Cell Institute, a Consortium member center; Distinguished McKnight Professor in the Department of Pediatrics; Edmund Wallace Tulloch and Anna Marie Tulloch Chair in Stem Cell Biology, Genetics and Genomics; and Professor in the Microbiology, Immunology and Cancer Biology (MICaB) PhD Graduate Program.

News

3D sensor printed on hand

Researchers Print 3D Electronics and Cells Directly on Skin

April 30, 2018

A new paper describes a low-cost 3D printing technology that could be used to print on skin temporary sensors for detecting chemical or biological agents, solar cells to charge electronics, or new types of skin grafts. The research was conducted by a team led by Michael McAlpine, the University of Minnesota Benjamin Mayhugh Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, in partnership with Jakub Tolar, dean of the University of Minnesota Medical School and director of the Stem Cell Institute, a Consortium member. The new 3D printing technique can be mapped onto each individual's skin contours and uses a specialized ink made of silver flakes that can be peeled off with tweezers or washed off with water. Prof. McAlpine notes, “It is such a simple idea and has unlimited potential for important applications in the future.”

News

Human skin

Whole-body Skin Graft Gives Hope to a Boy with a Rare Disease

November 10, 2017

An article in Science Magazine describes the case of a 7-year-old boy who suffers from "a severe form of epidermolysis bullosa (EB), an often-fatal group of conditions that cause skin to blister and tear off at the slightest touch." He has made a dramatic recovery after being treated with genetically modified stem cells that were used to grow new skin, which was then grafted onto his body. Jakub Tolar, MD, is also developing therapies for EB; he is Dean of the Medical School and Director of the Stem Cell Institute, a Consortium member. In the Science article, he notes, that "the grafts . . . can’t repair damage to internal surfaces such as the esophagus, which occurs in some EB cases. Fortunately, that wasn’t an issue for the boy in this study. The treatment is 'a good step in the right direction,' Tolar says, 'but it’s not curative.'” In a separate article in STAT, John Wagner, MD, Director of the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital’s blood and marrow transplant program, says the findings have “'extraordinary' potential because, until now, the only stem cell transplants proven to work in humans was of hematopoietic stem cells — those in blood and bone marrow."

News

Jakub Tolar

Jakub Tolar is the New Dean of the Medical School

October 24, 2017

Jakub Tolar, MD, PhD, has been appointed the next dean of the University of Minnesota Medical School pending Board of Regents approval. Prof. Tolar is an internationally recognized leader in regenerative medicine who has been with the University of Minnesota for 25 years. He is the Director of the Stem Cell Institute, a Consortium member. An article in the Star Tribune notes, Tolar "believes the school is poised for a boost in academic standing and research funding. . . . [He states,] 'I am incredibly competitive. I am not ashamed of this. I like to win. I like the medical school to win. In order to do this, we have to be better than others.'” In addition to his role as dean, Tolar has been named Interim Vice President for Health Sciences while the University determines the best structure for its health education, clinical and research operations. 

News

Prof. Leigh Turner

Leigh Turner: Stem Cell Clinics Often Oversell Their Services

August 14, 2017

Prof. Leigh Turner, a faculty member at the Center for Bioethics (a Consortium member), is in the news for his expose of pay-to-participate stem cell studies listed on ClinicalTrials.gov. An article in the Star Tribune outlines the controversy, which has heated up in the aftermath of a Regenerative Medicine paper by Turner in which he questions the legitimacy of many of these trials. According to Turner, "You have these businesses that don’t have meaningful clinical research going on. There is a risk for fraud, in that people may be charged thousands of dollars to get an intervention that has no chance of working." In particular, Turner is concerned about the appearance of a government endorsement, since ClinicalTrials.gov is run by the Food and Drug Adminstration (FDA). Representatives of some of the companies Turner named have threatened litigation, though no suits have been filed. One cosmetic surgeon quoted in the Star Tribune article refutes Turner's argument: "We are not taking public funding and using it to our benefit while pursuing 'scientific' excellence — we’re actually trying to help our patients while learning about the treatments and the disease they have. Frankly, I think this is much more ethical than a major university with billions of endowment dollars taking millions of dollars of taxpayer money so they can build new offices and laboratories to further the study of stem cells." 

News

Jakub Tolar

Breakthrough Bone Marrow Therapy Developed by U Researchers

July 5, 2017

A team of scientists led by Jakub Tolar, director of Consortium member the Stem Cell Institute, believes they've discovered a new therapy to help patients suffering from a devastating skin disease. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, "A decade after performing the world’s first bone marrow transplants to treat epidermolysis bullosa (EB) — a rare and potentially fatal skin disease — university researchers believe they have discovered a 'powerhouse' new formula that . . . helps the body grow new skin and will allow patients such as [Jonathan] Pitre, 17, to live longer, less painful lives." EB can cause friction or even a minor bump to become a significant wound; it sometimes leads to severe infections and skin cancer. Over the past several months, Pitre has been treated at the U's Masonic Children's Hospital, undergoing radiation, chemotherapy and two bone marrow transplants. Long-term research has helped doctors identify the most effective cell type for EB treatment — mesenchymal stem cells, are "uniquely good at bullying their way into the body and producing the missing collagen [that causes the disease]. 'This is the first time ever, that I know of, when you are infusing them with the goal that these cells will stay,' Tolar said. 'They will graft into the skin, set up shop there. It’s as if these mesenchymal stem cells are coming home.'"

News

Science Magazine logo

Texas Law Allows Unproven Stem Cell Interventions

June 30, 2017

A Texas bill has been signed into law allowing "clinics and companies. . . to offer people unproven stem cell interventions without the testing and approval required under federal law," according to Science Magazine. The act grants legal status to practices that are already widespread; Leigh Turner, a professor at Consortium member the Center for Bioethics notes, "you could make the argument that — if [the new law] was vigorously enforced — it’s going to put some constraints in place." However, he continues, "it would really be surprising if anybody in Texas is going to wander around the state making sure that businesses are complying with these standards." The law, which takes effect Sept. 1, sanctions a much broader set of therapies than federal rules allow. Read the entire article here

News

Research lab with test tubes

Unintended Consequences: Culture Wars Drove State Stem Cell Research Funding

November 6, 2015

When President George W. Bush restricted federal funding for embryonic stem cell research in 2001, he wasn't looking to expand state funding of this research, but that's exactly what happened. An article in Kaiser Health News recounts how, after the ban, several states started their own stem cell programs or offered economic incentives to local scientists and companies. While these efforts haven't yet produced any miracle cures because of the amount of research still to be done, Jakub Tolar, director of Consortium member the Minnesota Stem Cell Institute, notes that potential results are worth the wait. “We started on drugs a hundred years ago. Then we went to monoclonal antibodies – biologicals,” he said. “We are now getting ready to use cells as a third way of doing medicine. We are at a historical sweet spot.” The U's Stem Cell Institute was established in 1999, before the ban on research with embryonic cells, and is the world's first interdisciplinary institute dedicated to stem cell research.

News

Jakub Tolar, MD, PhD

Stem Cell Institute Receives $2.4M Grant for Regenerative Skin Research

August 20, 2015

The University of Minnesota's Stem Cell Institute, a Consortium member center, has received a private grant in the amount of $2.4 million from the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation that will help accelerate research into growing healthy, new skin for burn victims or patients with severe skin diseases. The research is being led by Institute Director Dr Jakub Tolar, who was quoted in a Minneapolis Star Tribune article about the grant: “We think we can restore health in conditions that have been, or are still, without effective therapy, or have been deemed incurable altogether."

Symposia

Consortium Faculty

Jakub Tolar
Jakub Tolar , MD, PhD
Vice President for Clinical Affairs, Academic Health Center
Dean, Medical School
Director, Stem Cell Institute
Distinguished McKnight Professor of Pediatrics
Edmund Wallace Tulloch and Anna Marie Tulloch Chair, Stem Cell Biology, Genetics and Genomics

Consortium Faculty

Bruce Blazar
Bruce R. Blazar , MD
Director, Clinical and Translational Science Institute
Director, Center for Translational Medicine
Vice Dean for Clinical Investigation, School of Medicine
Academic Health Center Associate Vice President for Clinical and Translational Science
Regents Professor and CCRF Chair in Pediatric Oncology
Chief of the Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program

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Research

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