Vitro Biopharma provides basic tools to support stem cell research and clinical development studies including stem cells, cell culture media and measurement tools to assess the functional status of stem cells. We continue to expand our product line to support the expanding needs of our target markets. We are focused on mesenchymal stem cells, a type of adult stem cell showing promise in many clinical applications. We are one of the few suppliers of fluorescent-labeled MSCs that now include fluorescent human MSCs and recently launched fluorescent MSC-derived human chondrocytes. Fluorescent chondrocytes provide novel tools to investigate treatment of joint diseases and injury through cellular therapy based on chondrocytes (cells that produce collagen) and combinations of stem cells and chondrocytes. Our proprietary method of manufacturing fluorescent chondrocytes was based on the unexpected finding of the transfer of fluorescent label from fluorescent MSCs to differentiated cells including chondrocytes and osteoblasts.

Nanotechnology is based on use of extremely small materials (<100 nanometers or 1/10 of a micrometer) whose properties change at these minute sizes. This enables several advances in medical applications including targeted drug delivery, imaging, detection of specific events, and transfer of biologically active substances into cells. Several other applications are being pursued and it is possible that nanotechnology will eventually revolutionize medicine. The application of nanotechnology to stem cell technology opens additional opportunities to expand the capacity of stem cell technology to advance medicine. We have recently utilized methods to transfer nanoparticles into stem cells to provide advanced capabilities to detect stem cells within the body through in-vivo imaging.

We are now using magnetic, iron-containing nanoparticles to label stem cells for imaging by magnetic resonance imaging(MRI). The figure shown at the upper left shows the presence of iron-containing nanoparticles within human MSCs. (The image is 200X phase contrast following iron staining by Prussian Blue stain; dark deposits indicate iron presence.)  We are now optimizing the method for delivery of iron-containing nanoparticles to cells prior to commercial launch of new products.

MSCs labeled with iron-containing nanoparticles may be detected using clinical MRI instrumentation allowing visualization of stem cells and migration to particular targets. For example, it is known that MSCs migrate to cancer stem cells so there is a potential application of these labeled MSCs in cancer diagnostics. Also, genetically engineered MSCs are now being investigated for potential cancer therapies that target cancer stem cells and then deliver toxic substances. In most clinical applications of stem cells, in-vivo imaging of stem cells is desirable. We plan to expand our in-vivo imaging products to include multiple labels of stem cells allowing more complete in-vivo imaging analysis of stem cells.

Contributed by: Jim Musick, Ph.D. President and CEO of Vitro Biopharma/Vitro Diagnostics, Inc.