The Promise of Stem Cells

November 7, 2005
Pharmaceutical Technology Editors

ePT--the Electronic Newsletter of Pharmaceutical Technology

At the plenary session at the AAPS Annual Meeting, two researchers presented studies targeting completely different areas of stem cell research, but their work focused on the same ultimate goal: finding new therapies.

At the plenary session at the AAPS Annual Meeting, two researchers presented studies targeting completely different areas of stem cell research, but their work focused on the same ultimate goal: finding new therapies.

Margaret A. Goodell, PhD, of Baylor College of Medicine, presented her work on adult hematopoietic stem cells (the stem cells in bone marrow that regenerate blood), emphasizing gaining an understanding of what happens to stem cells as they age. Her results showed a 10% difference in gene activity between young and old stem cells, and many of these differences mirror gene activity already linked to aging. A key example was a 44-fold increase in Cox-2 activity in older cells, associated with inflammation, one example of a general increase in cell activity linked to immune responses. Of the cell activities seen to decrease, many were linked to a decline in the amount of chromatin activity, which could drive additional changes in the body associated with age, Goodell said.

Douglas W. Lasordo, MD, of Tufts University, presented preliminary results of a pilot clinical trial studying autologous stem cells for untreatable coronary disease. In the double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 24 patients, CD 34+ cells were injected into ischemic regions of the heart. Initial results are hopeful, Lasordo said, because treated patients showed increased tolerance for exercise and reduced angina after six months of treatment, and no serious adverse events were reported.

When asked how autologous stem cells compared to stem cells from other humans or from animals, Lasordo said studies have shown that the patients' own cells were somewhat less effective. "You can look at this as a glass half empty or a glass half full," he said. "It's too bad that the patients' own cells are not as good, but that information also offers potential for finding diagnostic and therapeutic targets. This clinical research may lead back to the lab."

Participants in the symposium were:

Hematopoietic Stem Cells: Biology and Potential Therapeutic Applications
Margaret A. Goodell, PhD
Baylor College of Medicine

Adult Autologous Stem Cells for Untreatable Coronary Disease: A Pilot Clinical Trial
Douglas W. Losordo
MD, Tufts University