We seek to extend our current findings obtained with laboratory mice to human patients. In particular, during the course of the proposed research, we aim to develop routine protocols for isolating and amplifying autologous Germ Line Stem Cells (GLSC’s) from patient-biopsy specimens that retain their potency and are subject to minimal manipulation under sterile technique (amenable to regulation according to cGMP [current Good Manufacturing Practice]). In the future, we expect to translate this technology into clinical application for individualized treatment of male juvenile cancer patients undergoing radiation- and/or chemotherapy-induced treatments that result in infertility, where the freezing of sperm for future use is not yet an available option. Finally, we believe these techniques can be extended to female oocytes as well, where they will play a similar role in treating female infertility as well. Ultimately, these cells, because of their pristine nature compared with other types of stem cells, can be used to treat a wide variety of chronic diseases.
Basic research into the biology of mammalian adult stem cells based on experimental animals, such as laboratory rodents, is expected to benefit the citizens of California by establishing rigorous protocols for Phase-I human clinical trials in the future for a wide range of chronic diseases from neurodegenerative disorders (Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s), heart disease, stroke, lung diseases (COPD), Diabetes, traumatic injuries (spinal-cord and head trauma from sports injuries or car accidents), congenital genetic disorders (Huntington’s, Sickle Cell Anemia), post-radiation cancer treatments leading to infertility, and many others. The reason for working with laboratory animal-models of human disease is to establish clinical guidelines for treatment that are not well understood at this time. Some of the clinical procedures that have yet to be resolved are the following:
• rigorous characterization and standardization of cultured human stem cells prior to administration;
• purity of the cells, e.g., without contamination by mouse feeder cells or oncogenic viruses;
• individualizing of doses of cells per administration (from thousands to possibly millions of cells);
• frequency of administration (daily, weekly, monthly, annually, or possibly only once);
• route of administration (IV perfusion vs. organ-specific injection);
• degree of differentiation of the cells (full pluripotent vs. multipotent or organ-specific cells);
• the absolute requirement for autologous cells (to prevent acute rejection and/or graft vs. host disease) vs. the sufficiency of non-histocompatible cells, as claimed by some respected scientists;
• diagnosis of end points for the successful termination of treatment;
• prognosis of systemic side effects or adverse reactions (inflammation, autoimmune disorders, cancer).
It is essential for citizens of California that the first human clinical trials conducted in our state be subject to the most rigorous protocol information available before such trials could lead to potentially serious adverse reactions, as we have witnessed with the otherwise promising field of genetic engineering and in the case of at least one profit-making, off-shore clinic where desperate patients, lacking alternatives, suffered the adverse consequences of tissue rejection from incompatible human fetal-cell injections. We are confident that CIRM-funded animal stem-cell research will provide the rigorous foundation for California medical scientists to build the protocols that will be needed for human therapies in the not-too-distant future.