Regenerative Medicine Partnership with Cornell University
Scientists at McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine are partnering with innovators at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine to advance healing techniques and technologies for animals and humans.
Pitt Scientists Solve Mystery of Basic Cellular Process
A mix of serendipity and dogged laboratory work allowed a diverse team of University of Pittsburgh scientists to report in Nature Cell Biology that they had solved the mystery of a basic biological function essential to cellular health. McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty members in this team included:
Drs. Rubin and Marra Comment on Denmark Stem Cell-Enriched Fat Grafts Clinical Study
In Denmark, the first clinical study shows the potential of stem cell-enriched fat grafts to transform reconstructive surgery. McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine faculty members—J. Peter Rubin, MD, and Kacey Marra, PhD—weigh in on the results.
Unusual Combination Therapy Shows Promise for Preventing Prostate Cancer
Combining a compound from broccoli with an antimalarial drug prevents prostate cancer in mice, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) researchers—including McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty members Simon Watkins, PhD, and Donna Stolz, PhD—discovered.
Improving the Therapeutic Relevance of Muscle Stem Cells
As reported by the Stem Cell correspondent Stuart P. Atkinson, the research group of McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine faculty member Johnny Huard, PhD (pictured top), professor in the Departments of Orthopaedic Surgery, Molecular Genetics, Biochemistry, Bioengineering, and Pathology, the Henry J. Mankin endowed chair in orthopaedic surgery research, and the director of the Stem Cell Research Center, has previously isolated and characterized muscle-derived stem cells (MDSCs) which have been shown by various groups by being able to undergo osteogenic differentiation given the correct stimuli. They are therefore a potential alternative to bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells for bone tissue engineering. One of these stimuli is continued exposure to bone morphogenetic proteins (BMP), hindered by the short half-lives in vivo and the requirement of maintaining a localized concentration. The team, including McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine faculty member Yadong Wang, PhD (pictured bottom), the William Kepler Whiteford professor in bioengineering with adjunct positions in chemical engineering and surgery at the University of Pittsburgh, has also devised a delivery strategy; a poly(ethylene argininylaspartate diglyceride)(PEAD)-heparin complex loaded with BMP2 which forms an emulsion-like aggregation of organic molecules separated from the aqueous phase, or a coacervate, previously used to effectively deliver fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF2) for therapeutic angiogenesis. Now, in a report in Stem Cells Translational Medicine, they report on the use of this system with BMP2 to stimulate osteogenesis in MDSCs in vitro and in vivo.
Risk of Dementia Doubles for Elderly Patients Hospitalized with Infections
University of Pittsburgh researchers, including McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Derek Angus, MD, distinguished professor of critical care medicine and the Mitchell P. Fink chair in critical care medicine in Pitt’s School of Medicine, found that elderly patients who were hospitalized with infections, such as pneumonia, were more than twice more likely to develop dementia than those who did not have an infection. The study also found that patients with dementia may be more susceptible to infection. The results of the study, funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health, were published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
Decellularized Mouse Heart Beats Again after Regeneration with Human Heart Precursor Cells
A Pittsburgh-based team, that includes two McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty members, has reported that they have performed a study where a mouse heart was able to contract and beat again after its own cells were stripped and replaced with human heart precursor cells. The McGowan Institute affiliated faculty members who were contributors to the study are Kimimasa Tobita, MD, research assistant, professor of developmental biology, pediatrics, and bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh and a director of Rangos Research Center Animal Imaging Core, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, and Guy Salama, PhD, professor within the Department of Cell Biology and Physiology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, along with scientists from Pitt School of Medicine. The findings, reported online in Nature Communications, show the promise that regenerating a functional organ by placing human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells – which could be personalized for the recipient – in a three-dimensional scaffold could have for transplantation, drug testing models, and understanding heart development.
Not only does practice make perfect, it also makes for more efficient generation of neuronal activity in the primary motor cortex, the area of the brain that plans and executes movement, according to McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Peter Strick, PhD, and researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Their findings, published online in Nature Neuroscience, showed that practice leads to decreased metabolic activity for internally generated movements, but not for visually guided motor tasks, and suggest the motor cortex is “plastic” and a potential site for the storage of motor skills.
Premature Aging of Immune Cells Present in Joints of Kids with Chronic Arthritis
The joints of children with the most common form of chronic inflammatory arthritis contain immune cells that resemble those of 90-year-olds, according to a new study led by researchers at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. The findings, published recently in Arthritis and Rheumatism, suggest that innovative treatment approaches could aim to prevent premature aging of immune cells.
NIH Grant to Study Pediatric Traumatic Brain Injuries Received
Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC and University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health researchers have been selected by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to lead a $16.5 million international study to evaluate treatments for pediatric traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
Artificial Cells to Study Effects of Molecular Crowding on Gene Expression Developed
The interior of a living cell is a crowded place, with proteins and other macromolecules packed tightly together. A team of scientists at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU)—including McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Philip LeDuc, PhD, professor of biological sciences and chemistry at CMU—has approximated this molecular crowding in an artificial cellular system and found that tight quarters help the process of gene expression, especially when other conditions are less than ideal.
Placental Cells May Prevent Viruses from Passing from Mother to Baby
Cells of the placenta may have a unique ability to prevent viruses from crossing from an expectant mother to her growing baby and can transfer that trait to other kinds of cells, according to McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine faculty member Donna Stolz, PhD, associate director of the Center for Biologic Imaging and associate professor in the Department of Cell Biology and Physiology at the University of Pittsburgh, and researchers at Magee-Womens Research Institute (MWRI) and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Their findings, published in the early online version of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shed new light on the workings of the placenta and could point to new approaches to combat viral infections during pregnancy.
Dendritic Cell Therapy Improves Kidney Transplant Survival in Preclinical Model
A single systemic dose of special immune cells prevented rejection for almost 4 months in a preclinical animal model of kidney transplantation, according to McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty members (pictured top to bottom)
Eleven years ago, McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Ron Shapiro, MD, professor of surgery at the University of Pittsburgh and the Robert J. Corry chair in transplantation surgery at the Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute, performed life-changing kidney transplant surgery on patient, Darian DeLuca of Westmoreland County. This year, Ms. DeLuca graduated from Kiski Area High School and when she received her diploma, she took a little part of her uncle, Greg George, with her. Mr. George was her kidney donor for this life-changing living-donor surgery.
The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), National Institutes of Health (NIH), awarded Qrono Inc. a Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase I grant for $256,000 to improve the treatment options for wet age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD) and fund further development of the company’s predictive modeling technology for the design of long-acting injectable (LAI) drug formulations. The research will be conducted in collaboration with The Little Lab at the Swanson School of Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh.
Recently, the efforts of several McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty members were the subject of news highlighting their most recent endeavors, achievements, and honors. Congratulations are extended to each of them. A brief summary of them (in alphabetical order) and their accomplishments follows:
In a paper presented at the American Transplant Congress, Seattle, WA (May 20, 2013), McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Paulo Fontes, MD, assistant professor of surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, described the ground breaking results from a study conducted by a multidisciplinary team who designed and assessed the effectiveness of a system to oxygenate harvested livers with a perfusion system so that the condition of the liver can be maintained for an extended period before implantation.
Adding Breast Milk Ingredient to Formula Could Prevent Deadly Intestinal Problem in Premature Babies
An ingredient that naturally occurs in breast milk might be used to prevent premature babies from developing a deadly intestinal condition that currently is largely incurable, according to McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty members David Hackam, MD, PhD, Watson Family Professor of Surgery, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and co-director of the Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment Center at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, and Timothy Billiar, MD, George Vance Foster Professor and Chair in the Department of Surgery, and a deputy director in the Molecular Medicine Institute, and researchers at Pitt’s School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
DOD Highlights Breast Cancer Research of McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine Faculty Member
The research efforts of McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine faculty member Alan Wells, MD, the Thomas J Gill III professor of pathology and the vice-chairman of the Department of Pathology, the medical director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Central Laboratory Services, Incorporated, a professor of bioengineering and computational and systems biology (second appointments), and the staff pathologist at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, were recently highlighted on the Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs, Breast Cancer Research Program (BCRP) website. The BCRP challenges the scientific community to design research that will address the urgency of ending breast cancer. Specifically, the BCRP seeks to accelerate high-impact research with clinical relevance, encourage innovation and stimulate creativity, facilitate multidisciplinary collaborations, and support future breast cancer leaders.
Vision Restoration: Regenerative Medicine in Ophthalmology
The 3rd Annual International Conference on Vision Restoration: Regenerative Medicine in Ophthalmology will be held June 10-11, 2013, at the University Club at the University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
First “Breathing Lung” Transplant on East Coast Using OCS Lung Performed
McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine faculty member Christian Bermudez, MD, UPMC’s chief of cardiothoracic transplantation and assistant professor of surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, is the principal investigator of a study where UPMC surgeons performed a “breathing lung” transplant using a portable machine that provides a constant supply of blood and nutrients to the donor organs. Doctors say this has the potential to keep donor lungs healthier and viable for longer than ever before.
McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine Affiliated Faculty Member Studies Cerebral Aneurysms
McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Anne Robertson, PhD (pictured), has been awarded a $423,852 R21 grant from the National Institute of Health for a research program entitled “The link between hemodynamics and wall structure in cerebral aneurysms.” Her research team includes Juan Cebral, PhD of George Mason University, Khaled Abdel Aziz, MD of Allegheny General Hospital, and McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Simon Watkins, PhD, founder and director of the Center for Biologic Imaging, director of the Graduate Program, and a professor (with tenure) within the Department of Cell Biology and Physiology, University of Pittsburgh, and a member of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI).
Study: Biomarkers May Predict Acute Kidney Injury in Critically Ill Patients
An international, multi-center study led by UPMC researchers—including McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member John Kellum, MD, a critical care physician at UPMC and professor of critical care at the University of Pittsburgh—found biomarkers that can tell a physician if a patient is at risk for acute kidney injury (AKI), a condition that often affects those in intensive care and can occur after serious infections, surgery, or taking certain medications. The results, now available online and published in the journal Critical Care, provide insight into the potentially deadly condition that affects up to 7 percent of all hospitalized patients.
Mechanism to Halt Cancer Cell Growth, Discover Potential Cancer Therapy Revealed
McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Simon Watkins, PhD—founder and director of the Center for Biologic Imaging, director of the Graduate Program, and a professor (with tenure) within the Department of Cell Biology and Physiology, University of Pittsburgh, and a member of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI)—and UPCI researchers have uncovered a technique to halt the growth of cancer cells, a discovery that led them to a potential new anti-cancer therapy. When deprived of a key protein, some cancer cells are unable to properly divide, a finding described recently. This research is supported in part by a grant from the National Institutes of Health.
Stem Cells Found to Heal Damaged Artery in Pre-Clinical Lab Study
In a recently published manuscript, scientists from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center—including McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Gerald Schatten, PhD, professor and vice chair of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of Pittsburgh, deputy director at Magee-Womens Research Institute, and director of the Pittsburgh Development Center—and the Texas Biomedical Research Institute have for the first time demonstrated that baboon embryonic stem cells can be programmed to completely restore a severely damaged artery. These early results show promise for eventually developing stem cell therapies to restore human tissues or organs damaged by age or disease.
Study Identifies Reasons to Opt Out of Bone-Marrow Donor Registries
According to a new study by McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Mary Amanda Dew, PhD, professor of psychiatry, psychology, epidemiology, and biostatistics at the University of Pittsburgh and also the director of the Clinical Epidemiology Program at the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, and fellow researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, race-specific factors, including religious objections and less trust that donated tissues will be allocated fairly, may help to explain why potential minority donors opt out of bone-marrow donor registries at far higher rates than whites. Additionally, they found that ambivalence about donation was the strongest predictor of opting out, regardless of race.
By The McGowan Institute For Regenerative Medicine | Cellular Therapy | December 16, 2012
Breakthrough: Restoration of Function Using BCI Technology and Training Programs
Reaching out to “high five” someone, grasping and moving objects of different shapes and sizes, feeding herself dark chocolate. For Jan Scheuermann and a team of researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and UPMC, accomplishing these seemingly ordinary tasks demonstrated for the first time that a person with longstanding quadriplegia can maneuver a mind-controlled, human-like robot arm in seven dimensions (7D) to consistently perform many of the natural and complex motions of everyday life.
Excellence, Strong Research Help UPMC Reach 3,000 Heart, Lung Transplants
William Ferry almost never made it to UPMC for the transplant that would eventually save his life. Nervous about a surgery that had been performed so little in 1980, Ferry contemplated turning the car around and not showing up when word came that a donor heart had been found for him.
Genetic Link Between Pancreatitis and Alcohol Consumption
A new study published online in Nature Genetics reveals a genetic link between chronic pancreatitis and alcohol consumption. McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member David Whitcomb, MD, PhD, professor of medicine, cell biology and physiology, and human genetics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, along with other researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and more than 25 other health centers across the United States found a genetic variant on chromosome X near the claudin-2 gene (CLDN2) that predicts which men who are heavy drinkers are at high risk of developing chronic pancreatitis.
Lab Study Suggests That Male Fertility Can Be Restored After Cancer Treatment
According to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Magee-Womens Research Institute, including McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Gerald Schatten, PhD, professor and vice chair of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of Pittsburgh, deputy director at Magee-Womens Research Institute, and director of the Pittsburgh Development Center, an injection of banked sperm-producing stem cells can restore fertility to male primates who become sterile due to cancer drug side effects. In their pre-clinical study, previously frozen stem cells restored production of sperm that successfully fertilized eggs to produce early embryos.
McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine associate director Rocky Tuan, PhD, is the director of the Center for Cellular and Molecular Engineering, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and the executive vice chairman for orthopaedic research at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Tuan’s research focuses on the development, growth, function, and health of the musculoskeletal system, the biology of adult stem cells, and the utilization of this knowledge to develop technologies that will regenerate and/or restore function to diseased and damaged musculoskeletal tissues. Recently, Dr. Tuan was part of a group of researchers interviewed by Dorothy Foltz-Gray, Lifescript. Ms. Foltz-Gray’s article, “Stem Cell Treatments for Joint Cartilage,” summarized the insights of Dr. Tuan as well as scientists from Weill Cornell Medical College, Duke University Medical Center, and Columbia University Medical Center’s College of Dental Medicine.
Project Awarded Funding: Targeted Molecular Therapeutics for Head and Neck Cancer
McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Flordeliza S. Villanueva, MD, professor of medicine, director, Non‐Invasive Cardiac Imaging, and director, Center for Ultrasound Molecular Imaging and Therapeutics, is one of four investigators who are the first to receive awards from a fund established by the University of Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), and Johnson & Johnson Corporate Office of Science and Technology (COSAT) to support promising translational research. Dr. Villanueva’s project focuses on the development of targeted molecular therapeutics for head and neck cancer using microbubble vectors and ultrasound.
Sperm Precursor Cells Made in the Lab Could One Day Restore Male Fertility
McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Gerald Schatten, PhD, professor and vice chair of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of Pittsburgh, a deputy director at Magee-Womens Research Institute, and director of the Pittsburgh Development Center, was a member of the team of researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine who found that human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) can be coaxed into becoming precursor sperm cells, suggesting that it might be possible one day to restore fertility for sterile males with an easily obtained skin sample. Their findings are now available in the online version of Cell Reports.
Targeted Oxidation-Blocker Prevents Secondary Damage after Traumatic Brain Injury
According to McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty members (pictured left and right) David Okonkwo, MD, PhD, assistant professor with the Department of Neurological Surgery, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, director of Neurotrauma and of the Spinal Deformity Program, clinical director of the Brain Trauma Research Center, and associate director of the Center for Injury Research and Control, and Valerian Kagan, PhD, professor and vice-chairman in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health as well as a professor in the Department of Pharmacology and the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh, and also the director of the Center for Free Radical and Antioxidant Health, and a research team from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Graduate School of Public Health, and Department of Chemistry in a report published online in Nature Neuroscience, treatment with an agent that blocks the oxidation of an important component of the mitochondrial membrane prevented the secondary damage of severe traumatic brain injury and preserved function that would otherwise have been impaired.
Promoting research to advance medicine for the military is the focus of a newly established center at the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences, and McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine associate director Rocky Tuan, PhD, the Arthur J. Rooney Sr. Chair in Sports Medicine and the executive vice chair for research and director of the Center for Cellular and Molecular Engineering, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, is its founding director with support from McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Peter Strick, PhD, distinguished professor, Department of Neurobiology.