Stem cell

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Jonathan Pitre

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.'"

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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

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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.

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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."

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Consortium Faculty

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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