Dr Steve Stice and Human Stem Cells
I am pleased and honored for the privilege of profiling Dr. Steve Stice. He has a history of working in areas that are Biotechnology Headliners…from cloning to stem cells. Here I will be focusing on his current work with Human Stem Cells and Neural Progenitors at ArunA Biomedical and The University of Georgia. As with all the News Behind the Neuroscience News, I will highlight how it could impact Neuroscience Research and Drug Discovery.
The Back Story
Where it Starts
Steve embodies a rare blend of entrepreneurship and scientific curiosity. He has been referred to in the press as “part professor; part entrepreneur”. This uniquely positions Steve to take his inventions from the lab directly to the marketplace by forming Biotechnology Companies. The DNA for ArunA comes from several of his earlier start-ups: Advanced Cell Technology and Cytogenesis (now part of BresaGen).
About Dr. Steve Stice
Dr. Steve Stice is CSO of Aruna Biomedical Inc and a Professor and Director of the Regenerative Bioscience Center and has a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar endowed chair.
Prior to joining the University of Georgia, Dr. Stice was a cofounder and Chief Scientific Officer at Advanced Cell Technology, a stem cell company. Throughout his career he has published and lectured internationally on the topics of cloning and stem cells.
In 2001, three of the human embryonic stem cell lines that Dr Stice’s lab derived were approved for federal funding by President Bush. In 2006, he was appointed by Gov. Perdue to the Post Natal Cord Blood Commission for the state of Georgia.
Dr. Stice founded Aruna Biomedical, Inc., and in cooperation with Millipore Inc. was first group to market a product derived from human embryonic stem cells (2007). The product is a neural stem cell used for research on neurological diseases and disorders, ranging from Parkinson’s disease to depression.
As co-founder and CSO of Advanced Cell Technology, he has helped commercialize discovery platforms that could enable the application of stem cell technologies to the field of regenerative medicine to bring effective therapies to patients suffering from degenerative diseases like age-related macular degeneration. The company recently passed the milestone of successfully. restoring visual function in rats through the implantation of RPE cells derived from human embryonic stem cells and in early 2008, completed pre-IND meetings with the FDA. Yes, Human Stem Cell based therapies have the potential to make the blind see.
This bring us to ArunA. I am excited about their current and future products because their is a pent up need for them by the Neuroscience Research community which includes many of Neuromics’ Customers.
The ArunA Biomedical Story
Steve started ArunA in 2003. It actually sprung from a frustrating aspect of using Stem Cells for research. They are infinitely useful but hard to grow in cultures and differentiate into the research required cell types. Steve became acutely aware of this from his work starting in 2001 including a 5 day course he taught at NIH. Steve understood that most researchers do not want to spend the time and related frustrations associated with this exercise. It is kind of like building a computer so you could enjoy the benefits of the web. In other words, Neuroscientists could care less about undifferentiated stem cells. At the very least, they want pure and healthy Neural Progenitors. These can then be expanded and differentiated into specific neurons. For example an ALS Researcher would be interested in making Motor Neurons; a Parkinson’s Researcher, Dopamanergic Neurons and a Pain Researcher, GABAmanergic. Nirvana for these researchers would be having pure cultures of these Neuron types at their fingertips.
There is good news. Neuroscientists can now easily and inexpensively get human neural progenitor cells for Drug Discovery, Toxicity and Basic Research.
ENStem-A ™, Neural Progenitor Expansion Kit
hN2™, ArunA Human Neural Cell Kit
So what was once difficult and frustrating, is now easy and convenient. Buy the kits and here’s an example of what you get.
What is Next
Knowing the needs and wants of the marketplace, ArunA’s products and capabilities excite me. Any tools that have they capabilities to bring researchers a steps closer to discovering cures for insidious Neuro-diseases need to be embraced. All of us have or will be touched by these diseases.
In my conversations with Steve, I am impressed with his clear understanding of how to evolve ArunA’s product to increase their value proposition. Available soon could be cultures developed to fit the niche needs of specific researrch areas like Parkinson’s, Pain’s and Alzheimer’s. I plan on communicating these evolutions here and at my company’s website @ www.neuromics.com.