The potential for stem cells derived from menstrual blood to benefit stroke sufferers will be jointly investigated by researchers at the University of South Florida, Cryo-Cell International, Inc., a global stem cell company based in Oldsmar, FL, and Saneron CCEL Therapeutics, Inc. a Tampa-based biotechnology company. The research team is supported by a $100,000 grant from the Florida-based Technology Transfer/ Commercialization Partnership Grant through the James and Esther King Biomedical Research Program, and a Florida Hi-Tech Corridor Industry Seed Matching Grant from USF Connect for another $52,000.
“Recent laboratory studies using animal models have shown transplanted menstrual blood-derived stem cells produced therapeutic effects following stroke,” said Dr. Cesar Borlongan, co-principal investigator and a USF neuroscientist. “We will be testing the possibility that these cells promote the growth of blood vessels and neurons that can aid in brain repair following stroke.”
In previous animals studies using transplanted stem cells from menstrual blood, Dr. Borlongan and his research team found that the cells were safe and, unlike embryonic stem cells, did not run the risk of creating tumors. In their next stage of study under the new grant, the researchers will transplant menstrual blood-derived stem cells (alone as well as conditioned and treated in a variety of ways) to determine the molecular and cellular components involved in repairing damage following stroke induced chemically in laboratory mice.
“Our long-term goal is to advance the clinical application of self-donor (autologous) cell therapy for stroke,” said Dr. Borlongan, who serves as a consultant to Saneron-CCEL.
Menstrual blood is a novel and plentiful source of stem cells with great potential for differentiation into a variety of cell types, according to the researchers.
“Menstrual blood offers an adult stem cell alternative that circumvents the ethical and logistical limitations of embryonic stem cells and their retrieval offers greater ease, and with a wider window of opportunity for harvest than other adult stem cells,” concluded Dr. Borlongan.
“This project is a natural extension of ongoing collaborative research efforts between Saneron, USF, and Cryo-Cell over the last 10 years. The menstrual blood-derived stem cells provide a renewable source of adult stem cells that is easily obtainable,” said Nicole Kuzmin-Nichols, co-principal investigator and Saneron president and chief operating officer. “This study was designed as a proof of concept study, that when combined with other ongoing studies may lay the foundation for a future clinical trial using these cells as a potential therapy for stroke patients.”
“Menstrual blood-derived stem cells have already demonstrated significant promise in preclinical studies to treat a variety of conditions,” said Dr. Julie Allickson, Cryo-Cell’s vice president of laboratory operations and research and development. “We look forward to gaining further insights from this exciting research investigation that may possibly lead to future potential therapeutic applications for the treatment of stroke.”