Tuesday, December 23, 2014

RBC Invited to Speak in Nanning China

Athens, GA – UGA Regenerative Bioscience members, Franklin West and Steven Stice traveled on behalf of the Jun Wu Forum to Guangxi University in Nanning China as invited guest speakers.  Dedicated to Jun Wu, a celebrated scientist and educator in China and first president of Guangxi University, the forum invites distinguished scientist worldwide, and is part of an ongoing collaboration between Guangxi and the University of Georgia.

Stice presented the inner workings of start-up compchina3anies.  In detail, he covered the importance of having a great idea, the development of disruptive technology and how to target specific markets. Stice used examples from several of his own successful start-up companies including; ArunA Biomedical and Advanced Cell Technologies.

West talked about the use of stem cells for the development of transgenic animals. “Induced pluripotent stem cells have the potential to enable the development of animals with complex genetic modifications that improve important agricultural traits such as marbling in beef cows and the number of eggs producechina2d by chickens. In addition, this technology can be more useful in making predictive animal models of human diseases,” echoed West. He also noted that induced pluripotent stem cells in species such as the pig, will allow important stem cell therapy questions to be addressed in the same species from which they were derived.

While visiting, West and Stice were able to tour the cutting edge facilities of the State Key Laboratory for Conservation and Utilization of Subtropical Agro-Bioresources and the Animal Reproduction Institute.cave

Upon returning State side, from their brief sixty-hour, four day whirlwind tour, the pair somehow managed to enjoy a breathtaking, limestone cave with a quick stop at Tiananmen Square and Olympic park, the original site of the 2008 Olympics.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Save Endangered Species: the Sumatran Tiger and the Clouded Leopard with Steven Stice and Franklin West

Donate in memory of Jalal the male Sumatran tiger and Moby the clouded leopard

The wonderful thing about Tiggers
Is Tiggers are wonderful things
Their tops are made out of rubber
Their bottoms are made out of springs
They’re bouncy, trouncy, flouncy, pouncy
Fun, fun, fun, fun, fun!
But the most wonderful thing about Tiggers
Is I’m the only one, I’m the only one!
Lyrics from Disney, based on the book; Winnie-the-Pooh
Perhaps Tigger was smarter than all of us. Perhaps, he had a premonition that someday he literally would be ― the only one!

Athens, Ga. - Less than four years ago, the University of Georgia's Franklin West, an assistant professor, and Steven Stice, director of the Regenerative Bioscience Center, contacted Zoo Atlanta about the possibility of producing a bank of stem cells from two species in danger of extinction: the Sumatran tiger and the clouded leopard.

Their biggest hurdle now is funding, and they're using UGA's new crowdfunding initiative, known as the GeorgiaFunder, to collect resources for their project.

Wild animals such as the Sumatran tiger and clouded leopard are threatened as a result of climate change, habitat loss and other consequences of human activities, as well as poaching and urban development. It is estimated that between 500-600 Sumatran tigers remain in the wild, and the actual number may be as low as 400.

Stem cell technology provides hope for these endangered species. Using a novel stem cell technology pioneered by West and Stice, stem cells can be generated from skin cells. These cells can then be turned into sperm for artificial insemination in zoo breeding programs.

"The stem cell technology that we will use is minimally invasive, requiring only a small skin sample," West said. "However, the implications of this potential breakthrough are considerable." West and Stice are working with cells they collected from the deceased Jalal, a male Sumatran tiger, and Moby, a male clouded leopard, who both lived at Zoo Atlanta. Jalal and his mate, Sekayu, parented Chelsea and Kavi, two Sumatran tigers currently living at the zoo.

Traditional methods in which tiger and leopard sperm is collected and banked are limited. This new approach offers several advantages: Stem cells can be generated from recently deceased and dying animals and can theoretically last forever. As endangered species become extinct, this so-called frozen zoo will provide an inexhaustible source of undeveloped stem cells.

"Our long-term goal is to produce stem-cell-derived sperm capable of being easily stored and producing offspring," West said.

West and Stice started the project because of their love of science and passion for wildlife conservation, West said. They're using GeorgiaFunder to raise support.

GeorgiaFunder projects advance innovation, teaching, service and learning at UGA. All gifts to featured projects are part of the annual Georgia Fund campaign, and GeorgiaFunder is simply a platform to allow donors to choose where their dollars make a direct impact at UGA.

To learn more about the "Save the Endangered Species" project or to give, see http://t.uga.edu/177. To learn more about the GeorgiaFunder, see https://dar.uga.edu/funder/.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Groundbreaking Study, New Hope to Stroke Patients

Worldwide, stroke is the second-leading cause of death after heart disease and the second leading cause of disability, after dementia.

It may not come as a surprise that stroke, recently referred to as “the old folks’ problem,” affects over 800,000 Americans each year.  However, according to the consensus report, published in the journal Neurology, 15% are young adults – and the number is rising.

For young adults, stroke is a sudden life changing event with economic consequences. Disabling patients before their most productive years, equally while dealing with relationships, careers and raising children. About 1 in 8 lose the ability to live independently.

Alarmed by statistics, UGA scientific researchers at the Regenerative Bioscience Center (RBC), Simon Platt, Shannon Holmes, Elizabeth Howerth, and Franklin West hope advanced results from animal magnetic resonance imaging and cell-based therapies may lead to new opportunities for treatment and prevention of the disease.

There are two broad types of stroke – ischemic stroke (85% of all strokes) and hemorrhagic stroke (15% of all strokes).

Ischemic stroke is one of the world’s fastest-growing diseases with high mortality and the leading cause of long-term disability worldwide. Ischemic strokes result from an occlusion of a major cerebral artery by a thrombus or an embolism, which leads to loss of blood flow in a specific region. The remaining strokes are hemorrhagic, where a blood vessel bursts either in the brain or on its surface.  

Regardless of the type of stroke a person experiences, immediate medical imaging is required to prevail against damage to the brain.  

The RBC research team; Platt, Holmes, Howerth, and West showed that through Magnetic Resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain they could correlate changes in stroke pig brain maps with human patient outcomes. Lending hope, that MRI neuroimaging with brain maps (ADC), could become a standardize baseline for a rapid comprehensive assessment in acute stroke with the potential to steer timely treatment decisions for optimal human patient outcomes.

Better mapping will eventually lead to better treatments, such as stem cell therapies.

Read more ►

For press information contact: Charlene Betourney Regenerative Bioscience Center UGA

Friday, May 23, 2014

Fracture Putty for Traumatic Leg Injuries

Fracture Putty at UGA, a DoD (DARPA) grant to Dr. Steven Stice, Director of Regenerative Bioscience Center and Dr. Peroni, College of Veterinary Science University of Georgia

Traumatic battlefield wounds such as compound bone fracture are very difficult to treat, often requiring multiple surgeries and long healing and rehabilitation times. Amputations are not uncommon. Current treatments employing bone screws, plates, and rods are deficient and can themselves lead to further complications.

Our DARPA funded project seeks to create a dynamic putty-like material containing stem cells which, when packed in/around a compound bone fracture, provides full load-bearing capabilities within days, creates an osteoconductive bone-like internal structure, and degrades over time to harmless resorbable by-products as normal bone regenerates.

Dr. Stice is helping to develop the adult stem cells that will rapidly form bone and Dr. Peroni is developing the large and small animal models for testing the "fracture putty". The PI is a leading human orthopedic surgeon at Baylor Scholl of Medicine.

"Fracture Putty" could rapidly restore a patient to ambulatory function while normal healing ensues, with dramatically reduced rehabilitation time (and the elimination of infection and secondary fractures).

The goals of the Fracture Putty program are ambitious but, once achieved, would have a
revolutionary impact on wound healing. This program is the ultimate convergence of materials science, mechanics, and orthopedics.

Neural Biosensor DoD contract at ArunA Biomedical Inc., a UGA spin out located in the
UGA Bioscience Center. Dr. Steven Stice is a cofounder.

Effective monitoring of environmental toxicants and bioterrorism agents remains a major challenge of great importance for both military and civilian populations, as existing technologies assess only known toxicants and are limited in scope. To address this concern, ArunA Biomedical Inc is developing human-based biosensors to detect known and unknown toxicants and bioterrorism agents. This project aims to develop techniques to improve and accelerate human neural progenitor cell differentiation into functional neural networks for use in human- based biosensors and fluorescence-based assays as sensor elements.

Some of the progress made to date:
  • Production of human cells like those lost in Parkinson that can be used to assess potential toxins, pesticides that could cause this disease in civilian and military populations.
  • Production of cells that can be used in sensitive assays to detect botulism toxins. This toxin is one of the top 5 agents of concern by the military in biological warfare. The assay can also be used in addressing FDA concerns about purity and quality of BOTOX, a form of botulism toxin that has cosmetic and medical uses. This is part of a $1.4 billion market.
  • The research team didn’t quite meet that objective by the end of its three-year study; biologically compatible putty that would stabilize and allow room for the bone to heal remained elusive. Yet, an alternative method for fast bone healing was discovered in rodents. Bridging segments in the femur and fibula, new bone formations were developing within two weeks after being injected with cells. “We were making bone like crazy and healing fractures in remarkably short periods of time,” Heggeness said. Read more

Monday, April 14, 2014

Modernization of EPA Toxicity Test - RBC at UGA

Rapid toxicity test for household, industrial compounds in the works at UGA

The average American comes in contact with thousands of these chemicals each year. The biggest concern, though, is determining which of these compounds disrupt early fetal and infant brain development.

To help change the paradigm of how these chemicals are tested—and how rapidly the EPA receives results—the agency tapped researchers in the University of Georgia Regenerative Bioscience Center. The university is one of three institutions sharing a $3 million grant from the EPA to more quickly determine the physiological effects of environment chemicals on children and infants.

Until now, determining the toxicity of each chemical could take almost two years. The UGA Regenerative Bioscience Center's $799,938 share of the grant will allow researchers to modernize the current testing process using work they pioneered using undifferentiated cells. "We hope to do a study in a dish that can be completed within a week so we'll be able to speed up the process and make it less expensive and not have to use animals," said center Director Steve Stice, a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Reproductive Physiology in the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Because of the damaging presence of these toxicants, early interruptions in brain development can lead to a broad range of lifelong problems. With one in six children in the U.S. diagnosed with a developmental or cognitive disorder, "it is more important than ever to understand the potential toxicity in the chemicals that we come in contact with every day," Stice said.

The methods used by the Regenerative Bioscience Center will expand the number of chemicals that can be tested each year, reducing process time, effort and cost while also minimizing animal use.

"This is an opportunity to further foster interdisciplinary research that encompasses toxicology, neural development, stem cells and new imaging technology," Stice said. "This grant will span a wide range of disciplines to follow a toxin's initial effects at the neural stem cells to how it affects people, potentially leading to uncovering environmental causes of autism. With EPA funding we can be a task force of a much needed solution."

Stice presented the topic, "Human Neural Stem Cell Metabolomic, Cellular and Organ Level Adverse Outcome Pathway Relationships for Endocrine Active Compounds," to 6,000-plus toxicologists from more than 50 countries on March 25 at the EPA Grants Kick-Off Meeting, part of the annual Society of Toxicology gathering in Phoenix, Ariz.

"By better predicting whether chemicals have the potential to impact health and human development, these grants will not only advance the science necessary to improve chemical safety but protect the well-being and futures of children in this nation," said Lek Kadeli of the EPA's Office of Research and Development.

The funding for the Regenerative Bioscience Center's study is provided by the EPA under grant No. R835551 on "Human Neural Stem Cell Metabolomic, Cellular and Organ Level Adverse Outcome Pathway Relationships for Endocrine Active Compounds." For more information on the grant, see http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncer_abstracts/index.cfm/fuseaction/display.abstractDetail/abstract/10209/report/0.