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LA BioMed investigator, Dr. Yutaka Niihara, developing novel cellular therapy

LOS ANGELES (July 26, 2012) Yutaka Niihara, M.D., lead investigator at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center (LA BioMed), and his team Fawzia Bardag-Gorce, Ph.D. and Joan Oliva Vilana, Ph.D. - are working with Japanese technology company, CellSeed, Inc., to conduct research and examine how novel cellular therapies can help repair damaged organs, including the eyes, skin, teeth, heart, liver, and kidneys. The research is focused on providing innovative solutions for tissue-engineering through the development of novel cell harvest methods and 3-dimensional living tissue replacement products for "cell-sheet therapy" and regenerative medicine. LA BioMed recently completed the first of a two-year research agreement to study CellSeed's proprietary core technology in regenerative medicine.

"At LA BioMed, we are constantly working to uncover new treatments and therapies that can help patients who need them the most," said David I. Meyer, Ph.D., president and CEO of LA BioMed. "We are pleased to be collaborating with CellSeed, and look forward to further exploring the safety and efficacy of this novel cellular therapy and bringing regenerative medicine to patients worldwide."

Cell-sheet therapy is the process of taking small quantities of a patient's own stem or progenitor cells through biopsy and culturing them in a special cell culturing dish. When the cells have grown sufficiently to create a sheet of cells, the living cell-sheet is collected and transplanted back into the patient again. If the transplant is successful, the cells will differentiate to replace the damaged cells and restore the functions that have been lost. This process can be used to regenerate lost or functionally impaired tissues and organs such as eyes, teeth, skin, heart, liver, bladder, and kidneys.

"We are pleased with the progress we have made so far with this potentially revolutionary technology," said Dr. Niihara. "We have already achieved success in Europe to repair corneal tissues that have been damaged by disease, and are working diligently to conduct the studies necessary to meet the requirements that will enable us to bring this technology to America."

To date, this technology has only been tested in Europe and Japan but with rather dramatic results. Patients with blindness due to a lymbal stem cell deficiency have regained their vision, where there had been no previous treatments available to these patients, and there has been a high success rate for patients with end-stage heart failure who have made a full recovery without a heart transplant.

Dr. Niihara and his collaborators have also experienced success in preclinical work including animal studies in their lab. They are hoping to bring this technology to the United States in the very near future, and are working to broaden the range of commercial opportunities for regenerative medicine to include cardiac muscle patches for myocardial infarction, treatment of periodontal disease, cartilage regeneration, and esophageal cancer treatment, among other conditions.

There are several benefits of regenerative medicine. By using a patient's own tissue or cells, there is an on-demand tissue supply and low risk of tissue rejection. There is also no need to wait for a donor, and there are no histology match or foreign tissue rejection risks involved.

Contact: Diana Soltesz
Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center (LA BioMed)

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