Lab to Clinic


>>Right the rod for the
photoreceptors will glow green. What gets me up every morning is the
thought that we can take a sample that you might submit for a cholesterol check. And we can take those cells based upon
technology that was originally discovered here at the University of Wisconsin
through Jamie Thompson. Each one of these that you
see will become a retina. We can make pluripotent stem cells
from that which is the foundation to create potentially any
cell type in your body. And then we can take those cells and
make retinal tissue from any patient that walks the face of the earth. I’m David Gamm, I’m director of the
McPherson Eye Research Institute and an associate professor of
ophthalmology at the University of Wisconsin. I started my lab about 15 years ago here at
the University of Wisconsin in large part because of its stature as a
center for stem cell biology. So it really gave me a platform
to take off on the side of trying to find cures for blinding disorders. The initial discovery of stem cell biology
was really the clay that allowed scientists and clinician scientists from
multiple different fields. For me it was ophthalmology and the retina, for
other folks it might be the liver or the heart. But it gave us the raw material to try
and develop technology to take those cells and direct them to the different types of
cells that are lost in the course of disease. And then the next step was what our
laboratory did was direct those not to become just any random cell in the body but specifically the cell types
that we were interested in. And then once you can do that in the
laboratory then the third step is to be able to bridge the gap between the
laboratory to patient care. I don’t think that I would be in this field
if I didn’t also have the clinical exposure. It never really changed no. The real critical cell type that’s
lost in retinitis pigmentosa or age-related macular degeneration are the
photoreceptor cells, the rods or the cones. And those are cells now that we can make, we
can make efficiently, and that we’re partnering with industry to be able to
bring forward to patients. And we hope in the next two to three years
we’ll start to see the initial trials. Just as important as that raw material being
readily available here at the University of Wisconsin is the attitude of the
whole university and its faculty and other researchers, which is to really
band together and use different technologies, different expertise and resources to advance
it in a safe but yet expeditious manner.>>I’m Bill Murphy, I’m a professor of
biomedical engineering and orthopedics and rehabilitation here at
the University of Wisconsin. And I direct the Forward Bio Institute. The goal really is to take scientific
breakthroughs that are happening every day at the University of Wisconsin and
maybe elsewhere and put them on a path that allows them to help
patients and impact society. One of our focus areas is
in regenerative medicine. I think where we were at the stage of the
initial discovery was at a curiosity stage. Where we’ve gone I think has been
progressively more and more practical, what can these cells be used for. A lot of what we do involves getting
these cells to assemble into structures that mimic human tissues or organs. And sometimes that involves using a scaffold
and a scaffold in simple terms is similar to it plays a role that’s similar to
the role of a scaffolding of a building. It forms the sort of space-filling
structure that’s then ultimately filled with what the cells are doing
and what the cells are producing. There are adult derived stem cells that
are now being used in clinical trials. There are some 600 plus clinical trials that
use some form of adult stem cell as a therapy. Some of these are showing some degree
of success, although we’re certainly not at the finish line for most of these therapies.>>A good number of.>>Oh got you, got you there’s a ton.>>We want every scientist in the world to
be able to use the tools we’re developing. And we want every patient that can be
treated by the technologies we’re developing to be treated by those technologies. If we don’t work with companies, if we don’t
in some cases form companies or become part of the process of forming companies then
we won’t make it to that finish line.>>I’m Steve Visuri, I am the VP of
business development for Stem Pharm. Stem Pharm is a biomaterials company, we are
using those biomaterials to apply stem cells to a lot of different applications,
particularly in the pharma industry. It enables pharma customers to
grow specific types of tissues so they can simulate various organs
in the body, miniature brains or gastrointestinal tissues or livers. Pharma companies are still trying to figure
out the utility of these particular materials and these tissues that they’re growing. It’s very early days but
they’re already being used.>>I really believe that we can
build better models in order to more accurately reflect this physiology. I also think that there’s a really
important place for technologies coming out of the university for small
businesses to take that and get that ready. To be able to vote and focus on
those technologies exclusively rather than a large company trying
to put some efforts to it. We’re really focused on that and that
I think helps the technologies move through the system faster.>>And the stem cell discovery
and how it’s been broadly applied and how it’s been broadly disseminated around the world is I think a
fundamentally perfect example of the Wisconsin idea and
how powerful it can be. [ Music ]

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