International Stem Cell Corporation (OTCBB:ISCO), www.intlstemcell.com, today added two world-leading immunogeneticists to its scientific advisory board. They and ISCO scientists will study the immune-matching properties of ISCO's human parthenogenetic stem cell (hpSC) technology and the potential for each hpSC-derived therapeutic cell to be an immune-match for millions of people.
Dr. Hans-Dieter Volk, Professor of Immunology and Chair of the Institute of Medical Immunology and Berlin-Brandenburg Center for Regenerative Therapies (BCRT) at Charité Universitätsmedizin in Berlin, and Dr. Matthias von Herrath, Professor at the La Jolla Institute of Allergy and Immunology at University of San Diego, have agreed to join ISCO's scientific advisory board. Both have dedicated their careers to experimental and clinical immunology and are highly regarded immunogenetics experts internationally. They will be most valuable as ISCO attempts to demonstrate the unique immune-matching benefits of the hpSC technology experimentally and in clinical practice.
"We believe that providing human cells that can minimize rejection though immune-matching to the recipient is one of the most important tasks in developing effective regenerative medicine therapies," says Dr. Simon Craw, Vice President at ISCO. "We look forward to Drs. Volk and von Herrath helping us try to demonstrate how that need can be met with our parthenogenetic stem cells."
Embryonic stem cells (hESC) almost invariably have different forms of genes (called "alleles") at each genetic position of the paternal and maternal chromosomes, i.e. they are "heterozygous." This includes the human leukocyte antigen ("HLA") genes that are largely responsible for the distinction between "self" and "foreign," and thus acceptance or rejection of transplants. Since hESC are derived from fertilized embryos, they carry the genes of a unique individual, thus the therapeutic cells derived from hESC will carry HLA alleles that can be recognized as foreign and be rejected by most patients unless they receive immunosuppressive therapy. Such therapy is costly, has significant side effects, and often is disabling in the long term.
Like most individuals in the population, induced pluripotent stem cells ("iPS" cells) and adult stem cells are also predominantly heterozygous because they carry paternal and maternal chromosomes. They are a perfect immune match to the patient they came from and are therefore typically administered back to that same individual ("autologous therapy"). However, they would likely be rejected by most other recipients. Autologous therapy is time-consuming and expensive, which goes against the cost containment pressures globally. In addition, the quality of the therapy is directly related to the ability to secure clinically sufficient numbers of functional cells from the patient, which often poses a significant problem in clinical practice.
In contrast, the hpSCs developed by ISCO are derived from unfertilized eggs ("oocytes") that have been shown in peer-reviewed journals to exhibit unlimited proliferation potential and are pluripotent (can become cells from all three germ layers that form a human being). Most significantly, hpSC can be created in a "homozygous" state, where the alleles, including the HLA alleles, are the same at each genetic position. When these HLA alleles are also found with a high frequency in a population, these "HLA-homozygous" stem cells and their therapeutic derivatives have the potential to be immune matched to millions of people. For example, ISCO's first homozygous stem cell line with high-frequency HLA alleles has the potential to be immune matched to an estimated 75 million people worldwide.
Dr. Volk says: "Using my experience from transplantation immunology and medicine during the past three decades, I am very pleased to help ISCO in their efforts to make its hpSC technology a clinical reality where therapeutic cell derivatives will be immune matches for millions of people worldwide." Dr. von Herrath continues: "While stem cell technologies generally offer great regenerative potential, most clinical applications will be limited by immune rejection. I look much forward to joining ISCO in their quest for making stem cell-derived therapy a practical and attractive clinical option for many degenerative diseases."
Besides the immunogenetic developments, ISCO is advancing its hpSC technology into the differentiation of hpSC into therapeutic cells and tissues and into the establishment of processes and facilities to produce clinical-grade cells. The company is seeking to demonstrate the therapeutic potential of its hpSC technology as a safe, efficient, and superior alternative to other sources of stem cells for human therapy.
ABOUT INTERNATIONAL STEM CELL CORPORATION (ISCO.OB):
International Stem Cell Corporation is a California-based biotechnology company focused on therapeutic and research products. ISCO's core technology, parthenogenesis, results in creation of pluripotent human stem cells from unfertilized oocytes (eggs). hpSCs avoid ethical issues associated with the use or destruction of viable human embryos. ISCO scientists have created the first parthenogenic, homozygous stem cell line that can be a source of therapeutic cells with minimal immune rejection after transplantation into hundreds of millions of individuals of differing sexes, ages and racial groups. This offers the potential to create the first true stem cell bank, UniStemCell™, while avoiding the ethical issue of using fertilized eggs. ISCO also produces and markets specialized cells and growth media for therapeutic research worldwide through its subsidiary Lifeline Cell Technology. More information is available at ISCO's website, www.internationalstemcell.com.
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Key Words: Stem Cells, Biotechnology, Parthenogenesis
International Stem Cell Corporation
Kenneth C. Aldrich, Chairman
Brian Lundstrom, President