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/.