Fibrocell Science Technology Leads to Discovery of Two Rare Adult Stem Cell-Like Subpopulations in Human Skin

Posted: May 3, 2012 at 7:12 pm


In collaboration with Fibrocell Science, Inc., (OTCBB:FCSC.OB), researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) have identified two rare adult stem cell-like subpopulations in adult human skin, a discovery that may yield further ground-breaking research in the field of personalized medicine for a broad range of diseases. Using technology developed by Fibrocell Science, Inc. the researchers were able to confirm the existence of these two types of cells in human skin cell cultures, potentially providing a source of stem cell-like subpopulations from skin biopsies, which are quicker to perform, relatively painless and less invasive than bone marrow and adipose tissue extractions, which are the current methods for deriving adult stem cells for patient-specific cellular therapies.

The findings, which are reported in the inaugural issue of BioResearch Open Access, pertain to two subtypes of cells: SSEA3-expressing regeneration-associated (SERA) cells, which may play a role in the regeneration of human skin in response to injury and mesenchymal adult stem cells (MSCs), which are under investigation (by many independent researchers) for their ability to differentiate into the three main types of cells: osteoblasts (bone cells), chondrocytes (cartilage cells) and adipocytes (fat cells). Finding these specialized cells within the skin cell cultures is important because rather than undergoing a surgical organ or tissue transplantation to replace diseased or destroyed tissue, patients may one day be able to benefit from procedures by which stem cells are extracted from their skin, reprogrammed to differentiate into specific cell types and reimplanted into their bodies to exert a therapeutic effect. Research in this area is ongoing.

Finding these rare adult stem cell-like subpopulations in human skin is an exciting discovery and provides the first step towards purifying and expanding these cells to clinically relevant numbers for application to a variety of potential personalized cellular therapies for osteoarthritis, bone loss, injury and/or damage to human skin as well as many other diseases, said James A. Byrne, Ph.D., the studys lead author and Assistant Professor of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology at the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA. In addition to pursuing our own research investigations with Fibrocell Science using this method, we envision a time not too far in the future when we will be able to isolate and produce mesenchymal stem cells and SERA cells on demand from skin samples, which may allow other researchers in need of specialized cells to pursue their own lines of medical and scientific research.

We congratulate the UCLA researchers on the publication of their breakthrough data, which may ultimately lead to new patient-specific, personalized cellular therapies to treat various diseases, said David Pernock, Chairman and CEO of Fibrocell Science, Inc. Fibrocell Science is proud of our role in helping to establish the potential of dermal skin cells for the future of personalized, regenerative medicine. We look forward to continuing our relationship with UCLA and Dr. Byrnes team to advance this research.

Discovering Viable, Regenerative Cells in the Skin

Dr. Byrne and colleagues confirmed previous research identifying a rare population of cells in adult human skin that has a marker called the stage-specific embryonic antigen 3 (SSEA3). Dr. Byrne observed that there was a significant increase in the number of SSEA3 expressing cells following injury to human skin, supporting the hypothesis that the SSEA3 biomarker can be used to facilitate the identification and isolation of these cells with tissue-regenerative properties.

Using Fibrocells proprietary technology, the researchers collected cells from small skin samples, cultured the cells in the lab, and purified them via a technique known as fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS). Under FACS, cells in suspension were tagged with fluorescent markers specific for undifferentiated stem cells. This method allowed the researchers to separate the rare cell subpopulations from other types of cells.

Dr. Byrne and colleagues also observed a rare subpopulation of functional MSCs in human skin that existed in addition to the SERA cells.

Being able to identify two sub-populations of rare, viable and functional cells that behave like stem cells from within the skin is an important finding because both cell types have the potential to be investigated for diverse clinical applications, said Dr. Byrne.

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Fibrocell Science Technology Leads to Discovery of Two Rare Adult Stem Cell-Like Subpopulations in Human Skin

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