June 17, 2019

Susan Smith has seen how the death of a loved one can lead to illness among survivors.

“Grief is as hard on the body as stress,” said Smith, the Grief Support and Life Legacies Manager at GenCure. “I have seen it more than a few times.”

Researchers at the University of Arizona went back and looked at studies about the “broken heart” effect, and then focused on 13 studies from the last 40 years. They recently published their findings, titled “A Systematic Review of the Association Between Bereavement and Biomarkers of Immune Function,” in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine

June 10, 2019

Negative reactions when giving blood are extremely rare and usually not complicated, according to data compiled in the AABB Donor Hemovigilance report for 2012-17.

In 2017, just 2% of blood donors reported having some sort of a reaction during or following donations, said the report by the sanctioning organization for blood centers. Of those reactions, more than half were “prefainting,” a term for dizziness or light-headedness.

Dr. Rachel Beddard, Chief Medical Officer at BioBridge Global, said the results of the survey were not surprising. From educating donors about preparation, to asking specific questions before donation, to training of staff, the process is designed to make the process as painless as possible.

June 3, 2019

A Belgian cellular therapy company has announced data from a phase 2a clinical trial of a therapy for an incurable liver condition.

Promethera Biosciences SA is working on a product called HepaStem that takes liver stem cells, expands them in the laboratory and gives them via IV to patients with a liver condition known as acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF). The stem cells migrate through the blood and settle in the liver, supporting regeneration.

Today, the only treatment for ACLF is a liver transplant. “Looks like the data is good and showing that the dosing protocol is safe,” said Scott Jones, Vice President, Scientific Affairs, at BioBridge Global.

“Preliminarily, the data is showing liver function improvement. Still early to say what the true effect is, but it looks very promising.”

May 27, 2019

Researchers in India are looking into stem cell proteins involved in the development of tumors realted to blood cancers, according to a recent study in the Journal of Blood.

Scientists knew that a protein known as p53 suppresses the development of tumors. But just 11% of the cancers that develop in the blood-forming bone marrow have a mutation in the gene that forms p53.

“The mechanism of how these leukemias exist in people with a normal p53 gene is not well defined,” said Scott Jones, Vice President, Scientific Affairs, at BioBridge Global.

So the researchers looked at a protein called Asrij that exists in blood-forming stem cells. They found that Asrtij (which is Sanskrit for “blood”) is abnormally expressed in leukemia and lymphoma, opening the way for destruction of the cancer-fighting p53 protein.

May 20, 2019

One of the nation’s largest charitable foundations has increased its investment in stem cell therapy to $150 million with its latest donation.

The New York-based Starr Foundation recently gave $50 million – on top of previous gifts totaling $100 million – to the Tri-Institutional Stem Cell Initiative, which is made up of researchers at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the Rockefeller University and Weill Cornell Medicine.

The grant was reported in Crain’s New York Business newspaper.