May 14, 2018

Like most people, Valerie never expected to be called after she signed up for the bone marrow registry at a GenCure event at the University of Texas at Austin.

And she sure didn’t expect to be called back from Ohio to donate peripheral blood stem cells recently.

But when Valerie, who is attending law school in Cleveland, was called as a potential match for a patient with leukemia, she didn’t hesitate.

“It doesn’t take that much time, it’s not painful and you have a chance to save someone’s life,” she said. “So why not?”

Three-quarters of all the donors called to give in the GenCure Marrow Donor Program wind up giving peripheral blood stem cells, like Valerie.

Learn more about the donation process at the GenCure website.

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April 30, 2018

Research done with stem cells aboard the International Space Station has benefited scientists looking for new ways to treat heart disease.

A team from Loma Linda University looked at cardiac progenitor cells – cells that have the potential to develop into heart cells – in the laboratory and aboard the space station.

They discovered that the cells in the microgravity of space “induced the expression of genes that are typically associated with an earlier state of cardiovascular development.”

The team also found changes in calcium signaling pathways that could be used to improve stem cell treatments for heart patients.

Early phase clinical trials already are underway to treat heart patients with heart stem cells, and the findings will aid in that research.

April 16, 2018

For the first time, researchers have shown that stem cell therapy could restore at least some functioning in primates with spinal cord injuries.

Previously, the only successful research into spinal cord repair with stem cells had been done in smaller animals.

Using human neural stem cells in injured monkeys, researchers at the University of California San Diego were able to improve the animals’ ability to grip an orange.

The team inserted a graft of cells at the site of spinal injuries, and after two months, there was evidence in some of the animals that the grafts were making connections. In most of the cases, the monkeys with successful grafts were better able to grip an orange than those in which the grafts did not hold.

March 26, 2018

Jason didn’t even remember when he signed up for the national marrow donor registry. But when he was called and told he was a match for a patient in need, he didn’t hesitate.

“If you can help somebody, why not do it, especially if it isn’t that big a toll on your own life?” he said. “And if you can drastically change theirs – why not do it?”

He recently spent the morning at the GenCure Cellular Therapy Donor Room, giving peripheral blood stem cells for a patient battling a blood cancer.

The small effort to make sure he was a match, and the half-day donation process, were a small price to pay to help someone in need.

March 12, 2018

A “vaccination” made from your own stem cells may one day be used to prevent some of the most common forms of cancer tumors, new research has found.

The idea that using induced pluripotent stem cells – adult stem cells that can be reprogrammed to take on any form or function – could be used to prevent cancer isn’t a new one. The problem is that the body can only respond to a limited number of antigens from a vaccine at once.

So researchers at Stanford University came up with a theory: Use a patient’s own stem cells to develop a cancer vaccine, since those stem cells are more familiar to the body’s immune system.

In the study, the team used stem cells from mice to develop iPSCs, then used them to vaccinate the mice against several types of tumors. The mice’s immune system responded to the iPSCs antigens – and, because they were so similar to the antigens in cancer cells, the rodents basically were immunized against cancer.