Biotech Strategy Blog

Commentary on Science, Innovation & New Products with a focus on Oncology, Hematology & Cancer Immunotherapy

Posts tagged ‘Regenerative Medicine’

There is a lot of buzz this week about Lucentis versus Avastin for the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD), something that will be talked about in more detail at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) annual meeting this weekend in Fort Lauderdale.

Also on the radar at ARVO is more news from Second Sight and their Argus II Retinal Prosthesis (something that I have previously written about on this blog).  For those interested there is a press conference at ARVO on Tuesday, May 3 from 5-6pm.

Second Sight presents updated results from the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis clinical trial, including sentence reading and color vision restoration for previously blind subjects. Two trial participants and independent investigators from the trial will be available for interviews.

Which brings me back to a Nature article published earlier this month that I have been meaning to write about showing, for the first time, the ability to generate a three-dimensional culture of neural retinal tissue from mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells.  A word of warning, you may find the paper a little tough to follow unless you are a scientist in this field.

Eiraku and colleagues from Japan were able to culture retinal tissue similar to that seen in the human eye.  Eye formation starts as an optical vesicle that then develops into a two-walled optic cup.  As the authors note “optic cup development occurs in a complex environment affected by neighbouring tissues.”

What the authors showed in their research was the ability to culture retinal tissue containing ganglion cells, photoreceptors and bipolar cells.  They conclude:

Collectively, these findings demonstrate that the fully stratified neutral retina tissue architecture in this ES-cell culture self-forms in a spatiotemporally regulated manner mimicking in-vivo development.

My take on this research is that it is an important milestone in regenerative medicine that could lead to the prospect of retinal transplants in the future.  I look forward to learning more at ARVO about what the future may hold for retinal transplants derived from human stem cells.

ResearchBlogging.orgEiraku, M., Takata, N., Ishibashi, H., Kawada, M., Sakakura, E., Okuda, S., Sekiguchi, K., Adachi, T., & Sasai, Y. (2011). Self-organizing optic-cup morphogenesis in three-dimensional culture Nature, 472 (7341), 51-56 DOI: 10.1038/nature09941

The Lancet yesterday published news of the world’s first tissue engineered implant of a urethra (the tube that carries urine out of the body from the bladder).

This research by Atlantida Raya-Rivera and colleagues at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine and Metropolitan Autonomous University in Mexico is another step towards when we may be able to regenerate a wide range of body parts. This would solve many of the donor shortages for livers and kidneys that exist today.

In their paper, Raya-Rivera describe how they took a tissue biopsy from five Mexican boys and by then seeding these cells on a scaffold, grew new urethras. These were subsequently transplanted into the boys (aged 10-14) between 2004-2007.  The results show that the tissue engineered urethras remained functional for up to 6 years, appeared normal within 3 months of implantation and allowed a urine median end maximum urinary flow rate between 16-28 mL/s.  To put this in context, the average urine flow rate of males aged 8-13 is 12mL/s, suggesting that the tissue engineered urethras functioned well.

For those who suffer from complex urethral problems as a result of disease, infection or congenital defects, this research offers the prospect of a new treatment option.  More research is required with a larger sample size to validate the findings, and to confirm that no strictures are seen long-term after reconstruction.

Ongoing research at the Wake Forest Institute of Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) into engineering human livers, kidneys, pancreatic beta cells and heart valves suggests that, if successful, regenerative medicine will have a major impact on the treatment of future diseases.  I can imagine a world for people with diabetes where new pancreatic insulin producing cells could be engineered and implanted.

The potential to replace non-functional or diseased organs and tissues with a replacement tissue engineered new one (like replacing a car part) will have a tremendous impact on the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry. Blockbuster drug franchises could disappear overnight.  Regenerative medicine is an exciting area to watch over the next few years.


This post was chosen as an Editor's Selection for ResearchBlogging.orgRaya-Rivera, A., Esquiliano, D., Yoo, J., Lopez-Bayghen, E., Soker, S., & Atala, A. (2011). Tissue-engineered autologous urethras for patients who need reconstruction: an observational study The Lancet DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(10)62354-9

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