Stem Cell Technology
Vitro Biopharma has extensive experience in developing cell-based biological products and is presently focused on adult stem cells known as mesenchymal stem cells or MSCs. The discovery of embryonic stem cells capable of differentiation into any cell type of the body was largely responsible for the development of modern stem cell technology. Embryonic stem cells are also ethically contentious since, in certain cases, embryo destruction results from the use of embryonic stem cells. However, adult stem cells are derived through non-destructive procedures from a variety of tissue sources. Adult stem cells have been approved for clinical use for over 50 years and have a strong record of safety and efficacy for use in the treatment of numerous blood disorders and immunological conditions. Presently, the MSC sector of stem cell research is one of the most rapidly growing and expanding fields within the entire stem cell industry.
The rapid emergence of stem cell products & technology based on MSCs is related to several factors including the widespread availability of these cells from numerous tissue sources and the strong clinical results showing widespread efficacy and safety in a broad range of indications within disease treatment, recovery from injury and accelerated healing as well as numerous applications in regenerative medicine.
Our stem cell products and technology are based upon MSCs. We offer basic tools to support stem cell research and clinical studies of MSCs. Our products include both native MSCs and various derivatives, specialty cell culture media for support of growth and differentiation of MSCs and measurement tools for several aspects of stem cell quality and ability to treat certain conditions.. Our MSC cell lines include native cells, fluorescent-labeled MSCs for use in tracking studies and in-vivo imaging experiments together with terminally differentiated cells derived from MSCs including osteoblasts, chondrocytes and neural stem cells. We also provide various Cancer-Associated Fibroblasts (CAFs) & native fibroblasts for advanced cancer research. Recent research has shown that skin cells known as fibroblasts, can be reprogrammed to exhibit properties of embryonic stem cells, including the ability to differentiate into any type of cell by the over-expression of four different genes (Myc, Oct 3/4, Sox 2 & Klf4). The pioneering research underlying the reprogramming of differentiated cells into pluripotent cells conducted by Drs. JB Gurdon and S Yamanaka led to the award of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, for the paradigm-shifting discovery of the reprogramming of differentiated cells, which was not previously thought to be possible.
Additional research by Vitro Biopharma and others has shown that over-expression of just a single gene in adult stem cells is sufficient to induce the pluripotent state (ability to differentiate into any cell type) thus considerably simplifying the process of reprogramming to achieve the functional properties of embryonic stem cells. Also, our published blogs provide the background information regarding the role of stem cell reprogramming in the activation of endogenous stem cells for therapeutic benefits (See: Stem Cell therapy without stem cell transplants) This research area is thus related to expanding the capabilities of adult stem cells to include the basic properties of embryonic stem cells.
The image shown here shows Vitro Biopharma’s research of human MSCs subject to a re-programming protocol involving exposure to small molecules (valproic acid & azacytidine) together with reduced O2 to induce the pluripotent state through induced expression of endogenous Oct 3/4. The arrows indicate putative iPSCs (induced-pluripotent stem cells) ~ 5 micron in diameter resulting from this treatment. Vitro Biopharma has a pending US Patent application regarding its technology for iPSC induction through use of small molecules and environmental parameters without the necessity of transfection to induce the pluripotent state. We are interested in strategic collaboration to further develop this intellectual property.
Also, MSCs may be modified in specific ways to render these cells effective in treatment of other conditions including cancer. While the clinical effectiveness of MSCs is related to replacement or regeneration of specific cells types, their application in the treatment of cancer is related to another property of MSCs which is the ability to home to specific sites within the body and physically move to those regions through a complex system of chemical signals, receptors and chemotactic movement of MSCs to these sites. MSCs are known to migrate and home into regions of inflammation or to cancer stem cells. Cancer stem cells are thought to be responsible for cancer tumor growth and especially to resistance to chemotherapy and radiation. These cells may thus lay dormant for long periods of time after cancer treatments only to form malignant tumors later and thus give rise to relapse or metastasis. MSCs are being developed for the specific delivery of toxic molecules to cancer stem cells as a new novel method for treatment of cancer including those with high morbidity and resistance to traditional therapies.