Stem Cell Assays Reproducible Research on Stem Cells

Posted: July 24, 2016 at 7:42 pm

Cells Weekly is a digest of the most interesting news and events in stem cell research, cell therapy and regenerative medicine. Cells Weekly is posted every Sunday night!

1. Proliferation of unproved stem cell clinics in US The biggest buzz this week was a study by @LeighGTurner and @pknoepfler on stem cell clinics in US. This is very interesting study, which Id highly recommend you to read! Forget about stem cell tourism, all you need to do now is to look across the street or open glossy magazine at airplane. They are everywhere:

Using rigorous Internet-based key word searches (see Supplemental Information for details), we found 351 U.S. businesses engaged in direct-to-consumer marketing of stem cell interventions offered at 570 clinics. For each business, we collected the company name, location(s), website address, advertised stem cell types, and diseases, injuries, and other conditions that clinics claim to treat with stem cell interventions. (Table S1 lists and describes all of the businesses we identified).

The authors did a lot of work and they are also open to suggestions for clinics database and improvements in methodology. Also read about this study on the Niche blog.

2. Failure of Phase 3 cardiac cell therapy trial This week Belgian company Celyad released headline results of their Phase 3 cardiac cell therapy pan-European trial CHART-1. It was efficacy assessment of auto- bone marrow MSC, induced in cardiac lineage, on 271 patients with chronic ischemic heart failure. Primary endpoints of the study were missed. So, study is failed. However, post-hoc analysis showed 60% of patient subgroup with significant efficacy, measured by primary endpoint. Companys press release has a positive spin and most media outlets called the results of the trial mixed or even promising. The fate of so-called C-CURE cell therapy now will depend on discussion with EMA in Europe. Company still may attempt to commercialize it and/ or continue with re-designed trial in US. In any case Celyad would not proceed with C-CURE without partner. Unfortunately for Celyad, dropping of the companys value by investors for more than a third, will make a search for potential partner very hard.

3. Stem cell professionals divided for 2 camps in best regulation debate Article in STAT nicely summarized recent debate on the best rergulatory framework for stem cell-based therapies in US. In the first camp, proponents of so-called Regrow Act and anyone else (for example, president of CIRM, Randy Mills), who supports reformation of FDA to accelerate approvals and ease regulation in general. In the second camp, professionals, who are opposing simple ease of current FDA regulation. In this camp, we can see such professional organizations as ISSCR, ARM and some patient advocacy groups. As the example of second camp, you can read Knoepflers op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle. Very interesting debate! Let me know what do you think in comments.

4. More clinical trials updates The results of the Phase 2 ALS trial, sponsored by NeuralStem were published online in Neurology on June 29, 2016. 15 patients, divided for 5 treatments groups, underwent experimental procedures in 3 different US centers. Even though there were 2 cases of serious adverse events observed and 2 deaths (attributed to disease progression) before 270 days, procedure deemed to be safe and well tolerated in general. Important conclusion experimental treatment was not clinically beneficial. However, as it was highlighted by investigators, the trial was not designed and powered to assess efficacy.

Last year, US-based company Cytori had 2 cardiac cell therapy trials, called ATHENA 1 and 2. Both trials were terminated last year, due to safety concerns and business considerations. Recently, company published available data, generated from both trials. 31 patients were included in analysis (28 from ATHENA 1 and 3 from ATHENA 2) 17 in cell therapy group and 14 in placebo group. Patients with chronic myocardial ischemia received 40 or 80 millions of autologous adipose tissue-derived stromal vascular fraction cells, processed from lipoaspirates at point of care with Celution system. Serious adverse events in 2 patients (related to procedure, but not related to cells) triggered stopping rule and studies were suspended. FDA allowed to continue after amendment, however company decided to terminate trials. In relation to safety, ATHENA 1 did not meet primary endpoint, measured by major adverse cardiac events (MACE) 35.3% in cell therapy group versus 21.4% in placebo. Some efficacy endpoints, specified in ATHENA 2 were met at some time points. The authors concluded that studies were feasible with suggestion of benefit.

5. Caution about new gene therapy trials Two recent proposals for new gene therapy trials in US, evaluated by NIH Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee (RAC) caused concerns about safety. Nature editorial this week covered proposals of Dimension Therapeutics and University of Pennsylvania, saying it must proceed with caution. Links about proposal for the first CRISPR-based application in human, you can look in previous Cells Weekly. Here is decision on Dimensions proposal:

After some discussion, the RAC voted unanimously to approve the trial. However, that came with a long list of conditions, including that the treatment first be tested in a second animal species. The researchers disagree with most of the conditions, believing that more expensive animal trials will add nothing. They feel that they are being held to a different standard from most trials. Dimension still plans to submit an application to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) later this year to start a clinical trial. It is unclear how heavily the RACs recommendations weigh into FDA decisions, but Wadsworth says that the company will conduct its trials overseas if necessary. These patients have been waiting a long time, he says.

6. Is FDA really holding stem cell therapy developers? Based on the recent post on California Stem Cell Report, the answer is YES. This opinion was voiced by CIRMs president Randy Mills several times. Ive asked Jan Nolta (IND submitter) on twitter FDA request of $330k pigs experiments and she said that it makes sense to do and $330k was misquoted.

Do you guys have any good examples when FDA was unreasonably holding developers with their INDs and trials progression? Please comment!

7. MSC and cancer friends or foes? New interesting data came up this week about impact of MSC-based therapy on carcinogenesis. Researchers found that in breast tumor model coinjection and distant injection of MSC has different impact on tumor growth:

Unlike previous reports, this is the first study reporting that MSCs may exert opposite roles on tumor growth in the same animal model by modulating the host immune system, which may shed light on the potential application of MSCs as vehicles for tumor therapy and other clinical applications.

8. New methods and protocols: Osteogenic differentiation of bioprinted constructs consisting of human adipose-derived stem cells (PLoS ONE) Bone marrow is a reservoir for cardiac resident stem cells (Sci Rep) Multiple genetically engineered humanized microenvironments in a single mouse (Biomater Res) Xenotransplantation of human fetal cardiac progenitor cells is useless in porcine model of ischemic heart failure (PLoS ONE) Feeding strategies in expansion of human pluripotent stem cells in stirred tank bioreactors (Stem Cells TM)

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Stem Cell Assays Reproducible Research on Stem Cells

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