In addition, UCLA's Jonsson Cancer Center features an established clinical trials infrastructure that could be used to test new therapeutics that may develop as a result of the stem cell studies, said Judith C. Gasson, cancer center director, stem cell institute co-director, and a professor of medicine and biological chemistry.
"I see cancer and stem cells as tightly linked," Gasson said. "More and more evidence suggests that cancer is a stem cell disease. Many of our current therapies are not effective because they don't target the cancer stem cells. Our experience with gene medicine and the GMP facilities will make it easier for us to translate our basic stem cell research into human therapies by using facilities and procedures already in place."
The UCLA Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Medicine will focus its embryonic and adult stem cell research in three areas:
* HIV: UCLA scientists are exploring how the AIDS virus blocks stem cell function, as well as stem cell approaches to combating HIV disease. One potential therapeutic example includes inserting antiviral genes into blood-forming stem cells and reintroducing them into the body. As these blood cells develop, the gene protects the mature cell against HIV infection. The UCLA AIDS Institute already has completed a Phase I clinical trial using adult stem cells. Embryonic stem cells also could be engineered for this strategy to avoid the need for isolating patients' cells, ease transplantation and increase clinical usefulness.
* Cancer: Research will seek to shed more light on cancer stem cells and how they develop. Not much is known about cancer stem cells and new findings may lead
Source:University of California - Los Angeles