NIH Grant Supports Collaboration to Develop Stem Cell Science and Novel Therapies
ALAMEDA, Calif.-- (BUSINESS WIRE)--Advanced Cell Technology, Inc. (OTCBB:ACTC - News), applying proprietary human embryonic stem (ES) cell technology to the emerging field of regenerative medicine, has been awarded a research grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the amount of $204,439 in conjunction with a research project currently underway with one of its academic partners, The Burnham Institute of Medical Research (Burnham Institute).
"This grant is momentous in part because it reflects the changing political climate and the federal government's move toward considerably greater support for research into embryonic stem cell science," said William M. Caldwell, IV, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Advanced Cell. "Increases in federal funding can trigger very significant growth in our industry, and grants such as these help companies like Advanced Cell deliver stem cell-based therapies to the bedside."
The grant, titled, "Directed Differentiation of Embryonic Stem Cells using Phage Displayed Ligands," unites Advanced Cell's expertise in embryonic stem cell biology, phage display, phage targeting technology and gene discovery, with Burnham Institute's expertise in developmental biology, cardiac biology, and vascular biology, among others.
"In today's world, medical research is increasingly a collaborative enterprise," said Dr. Michael West, President and Chief Scientific Officer of Advanced Cell. "We are thankful to the NIH and NIDCR for their support and confidence, and we are pleased to be collaborating with the Burnham Institute on this important project."
The NIH grant is issued under a program to foster collaboration between business and academia, and is an important step forward for Advanced Cell proprietary science in the field of embryonic stem cell technology. The award was granted to the company by the National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), a division of the NIH.
The NIH grant will further fund research by Advanced Cell and the Burnham Institute aimed at obtaining specialized cells of therapeutic interest from human embryonic stem cells using NIH-approved stem cell lines. The researchers are investigating the genetic mechanisms and the specific proteins believed to control how basic embryonic stem cells develop and differentiate into specific cells and complex tissues. Such understanding is central to fully harnessing and directing the regenerative powers of stem cells in medical applications, and to the creation and commercialization of stem cell therapies.
Advanced Cell and Burnham Institute researchers are hopeful that their work will have broad application in the stem cell field. "Currently there is a critical need to understand how embryonic stem cells differentiate when cultured in the laboratory and how we can direct the differentiation process to produce cells that are safe and suitable for therapy," said Dr. David Larocca, Associate Director at Advanced Cell and Principal Investigator of the research program.
Advanced Cell and Burnham Institute researchers are focused on cells to treat diseases of the heart, skin, and vascular system.
For example, additional research in collaboration with Burnham Institute is designed to help address the critical unmet medical need for improved skin grafts by identifying new ways to produce human skin equivalents using embryonic stem cells. There is also research being done to develop new treatments for damage to heart muscle. The scientists will seek to develop reagents and processes for purification of cells called "cardiomyocyte precursor cells," and use them to prepare and test cells for cardiac repair.
"There are considerable opportunities in the field of regenerative medicine to use embryonic stem cells to develop therapeutic products to treat diseases where healthy cells may be used to replace those lost to injury or disease," said Dr. Mark Mercola, Ph.D., professor in the Stem Cells and Regeneration at the Burnham Institute. "This grant will allow us to build on our collaboration with Advanced Cell to use phage display as a tool to discover novel molecules for directing stem cells to form useful cell types and tissues."
Advanced Cell and the Burnham Institute recently identified a family of cell-targeting peptides that bind early differentiating human embryonic cells. Researchers are using these cell-targeted peptides to track their developmental fate. This will allow them to identify the precursors of important specialized cells. Once identified by cell-targeting peptides the precursor cells will be isolated and expanded for preclinical and clinical testing.
About Advanced Cell Technology, Inc.
Advanced Cell Technology, Inc. is a biotechnology company applying embryonic stem cell technology in the emerging field of regenerative medicine. The company operates facilities in Alameda, California and Worcester, Massachusetts.
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