Dr. Jim Musick-Making MSCs Work

Harnessing the Power of CellsTM

Dr. Jim Musick

Dr. Jim Musick

Dr. Jim Musick and his company, Vitro Biopharma, give Basic and Drug Discovery Researchers the ability to harness the power of Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells (hMSCs). This power is essential for blazing new trails in the stem cell research and regenerative medicine frontier.

I am pleased to welcome Jim as a partner in providing my company the expertise and knowledge highlighted in this profile. Together, we give our customers, colleagues and friends the ability to easily culture, grow, differentiate and maintain large stocks on hMSCs.

Background

Jim received his PhD from Northwestern University in 1975 and then joined the staff of University of Utah where he specialized in the study of Neuroscience and synaptic transmission. He joined UltraPure Laboratories in 1983.

At UltraPure, he learned the art and science of commercializing biologicals. There he helped develop procedures for the commercial production of purified human pituitary hormones including, prolactin, growth hormone and TSH. This included developing QA/QC procedures to support commercial distribution of these products.

He joined Vitro Diagnostics in 1988 and directed all operations involved in the establishment of a diagnostic product line that included about 30 different purified antigen products.  His direct responsibilities included research & development, manufacturing, intellectual property development and maintenance, marketing and sales.  He was also responsible for the development & initial commercialization of the fertility drug VITROPIN™ as well as the cell immortalization program of the Company.  He is an inventor or co-inventor of all issued and pending patents owned by the Company.

In 1998 he also completed an Executive Program at JJ Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Northwestern University in Managing New Product Development.

In 2000, he orchestrated the sale of the antigen manufacturing division to Aspen Biopharma (Nasdaq, APPY) while retaining IP related to use of FSH as a fertility drug and to cell line generation technology.

He has the spirit of a polished scientist/entrepreneur with strong operational and process expertise.

Harnessing the Power of hMSCs

As President and CEO of Vito Biopharma, Jim leverages his expertise and experience to manufacture Cord Blood Derived hMSCs. The stem cell revolution demands large stocks of cells of the highest quality. Meeting the demand is the key to the development of stem cell related therapies. Vitro Biopharma has the capabilities to delivery.

It is all about starting with vials of potent and pure hMSCs. From there, the customer can grow and differentiate large stocks and be confident in the quality because Jim’s company has the processes in place to insure this. The cell lines are well-characterized with regard to species authentication using sensitive PCR methods to quantify non-conserved genes including COX1, Cytochrome B and actin.  Vitro Biopharma also utilizes karyotyping to authenticate its  cell lines.  Adventitious agents are also tested negative by sensitive PCR methods including known viral contaminants and mycoplasma.  Performance is assured by rigorous testing of viability, growth rate and differentiation capacity for formation of chondrocytes, adipocytes and osteoblasts.  Finally these cells are characterized with regard to phenotypic cluster designation antigens.

Current Products

Native and fluorescent-labeled human MSCs including native and fluorescein/rhodamine-labeled MSC-derived chondrocytes and osteocytes along with MSC-GroTM  growth and differentiation media. MSC-Gro™ media is provided in low-serum, humanized and serum-free formulations for both growth and differentiation.  Humanized serum-free media may be supplemented with allogeneic or autologous serum for direct comparisons of growth and differentiation under these conditions.  Powdered MSC-Gro™ formulations are also provided.  Vitro Biopharma’s human MSCss have the capabilities to be expanded through at least 10 passages at rapid growth rates and can be further expanded to 16 passages (~50 population doublings) at slower growth rates.

Human MSC-derived Osteoblasts stained with Alizarin red at 100 x.

Image: Human MSC-derived Osteoblasts stained with Alizarin red at 100 x.

Vitro Biopharma has recently launched a new and revised website complete with convenient online ordering and detailed product technical information (www.vitrobiopharma.com).

Futures

In our interview, Jim gave blinding glimpses of the future especially with regard to new products to extend Vitro Biopharma’s offering of clinical tools to fully explore the ever-expanding therapeutic applications of MSCs. I am excited about the potential. I will keep you posted as new products are commercialized.

Lectin Binding Profiles among Human Embryonic Stem Cells

I have featured  numerous posting of innovations by Dr. Steve Stice and our friends at Aruna Biomedical. Here I would like to share a publication by Steve and his team featuring a new slant on isolating eSC Derived hNP Neural Progenitors. This study also includes methods for sorting hESCs, hNP cells and hMP cells.

Mahesh C. Dodla, Amber Young, Alison Venable, Kowser Hasneen1, Raj R. Rao, David W. Machacek, Steven L. Stice. Differing Lectin Binding Profiles among Human Embryonic Stem Cells and Derivatives Aid in the Isolation of Neural Progenitor Cells. PLoS ONE 6(8): e23266. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0023266.

Abstract: Identification of cell lineage specific glycans can help in understanding their role in maintenance, proliferation and differentiation. Furthermore, these glycans can serve as markers for isolation of homogenous populations of cells. Using a panel of eight biotinylated lectins, the glycan expression of hESCs, hESCs-derived human neural progenitors (hNP) cells, and hESCs-derived mesenchymal progenitor (hMP) cells was investigated. Our goal was to identify glycans that are unique for hNP cells and use the corresponding lectins for cell isolation. Flow cytometry and immunocytochemistry were used to determine expression and localization of glycans, respectively, in each cell type. These results show that the glycan expression changes upon differentiation of hESCs and is different for neural and mesenchymal lineage. For example, binding of PHA-L lectin is low in hESCs (14±4.4%) but significantly higher in differentiated hNP cells (99±0.4%) and hMP cells (90±3%). Three lectins: VVA, DBA and LTL have low binding in hESCs and hMP cells, but significantly higher binding in hNP cells. Finally, VVA lectin binding was used to isolate hNP cells from a mixed population of hESCs, hNP cells and hMP cells. This is the first report that compares glycan expression across these human stem cell lineages and identifies significant differences. Also, this is the first study that uses VVA lectin for isolation for human neural progenitor cells.

hNP1_STEM_CELL_MARKERS_IF_IHC

Figure 1. Defining the stem cell phenotype using immunocytochemistry and flow cytometry.Phase contrast image of hESCs (A), hNPs (B), and hMPs (C). hESCs express pluripotency markers: Oct 4 (D,GG, JJ), SSEA-4 (G), and Sox 2 (J,GG); lack expression of Nestin (M, JJ), CD 166 (P,DD), CD73 (DD), and CD105 (AA). hNPs have low expression of pluripotency markers: Oct 4 (E,KK), SSEA-4 (H); and mesenchymal markers CD 166 (Q,EE), CD73 (EE), and CD105 (BB). hNPs express neural markers: Sox 2 (J,HH) and Nestin (N,HH,KK). hMPs lack expression of pluripotency markers: Oct 4 (F,LL), SSEA-4 (I), and Sox 2 (L,II); however, hMPs express Nestin (O,II,LL), CD 166 (R,FF), CD73 (FF), CD90 (CC) and CD105 (CC). All the cells have been stained with the nuclear marker DAPI (blue) in panels D- P. Scale bar: 10 µm. In the dot plots, red dots indicate isotype control or secondary antibody only; black dots indicate the antigen staining. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0023266.g001

 By comparing hESCs, hNP cells and hMP cells, we have identified glycan structures that are unique to hNP cells: GalNac end groups (VVA), α-linked N-acetylgalactosamine (DBA), and fucose moieties α-linked to GlcNAc (LTL). Future studies help in identifying the roles of these glycans in cell maintenance, proliferation and differentiation fate.

I will keep you posted on these future Studies.

25 Best Blogs for Following Stem Cell Research

Providing research proven and reasonably priced Stem Cell Research Reagents is core to our business growth.  Part of my business strategy includes keeping the Stem Cell research community up to date on latest news, methods and publications. This helps oil the engines of basic research and drug discovery.

hN2 Cell-Differentiation

Images Courtesy of Paula M. Keeney, Laboratory and Research Manager, VCU Parkinson's Disease Center of Excellence.

This listing comes to me from my friend Roxanne McAnn at Nursingdegree.net.

Stem cell research has been a contentious issue in both the scientific and political spheres for quite some years. Despite the ongoing battle between those who support and those who oppose the research and treatments, new discoveries and advances in the field are being made all the time. Whether you’re pursuing a career in medicine or science, if you’d like to keep up with these advances, then blogs on the issue are one of the best tools out there. Here, you’ll find a collection of blogs that provide all the information you’ll need to stay on top of the latest in stem cell discoveries.

News-These blogs will let you stay on the cutting edge of new developments in the stem cell research community.

  1. The Stem Cell Blog: Through this blog, you’ll be able to get updates on the latest and greatest in stem cell research.
  2. Stem Cell News Blog: This blog collects a wide range of articles related to stem cell treatments, research and policy.
  3. Ben’s Stem Cell News: Ben Kaplan is a stem cell activist, blogger and a biotech professional who shares his thoughts and the latest information on stem cells here.
  4. Stem Cell Directory: No matter what kind of stem cell information you’re looking for, you’ll find it here through articles, news and videos.
  5. All Things Stem Cell: From treating baldness to cancer, learn about the myriad of ways stem cells may be able to help patients on this blog.
  6. Cell News: This blog will make it simple to be in-the-know when it comes to everything related to stem cells.
  7. The Stem Cell Trekker: Use this blog to learn more about stem cell innovations around the globe.
  8. StemSave: You might not think dental care when you think of stem cells, but this blog will show you that stem cells may be able to be taken from the teeth, giving you a whole new appreciation for those chompers.
  9. Joescamp’s Stem Cell Blog: This blog offers up news, information and insights into adult stem cell research.

Businesses and Organizations-Check out these blogs to see what research corporations and organizations
invested in stem cells are doing.

  1. International Stem Cell Corporation: Visit this blog to learn more about stem cell research that’s being done overseas, as many countries don’t have the same restrictions on research as the U.S.
  2. ViaCord Blog: This company, invested in cord blood baking and research, shares advances in the field of stem cells and cord blood treatments through this blog.
  3. Stem Cell Network Blog: Based out of Canada, this organization’s blog will help readers stay on top of new studies being done in the field, as well as some political issues that will affect researchers in Canada and around the world.
  4. Stem Cell Aware: Here you’ll find articles and information that can help you learn more about individuals who are receiving treatment with adult stem cells around the world.
  5. Umbilical Cord Blood Blog: Learn more about donating umbilical blood and the stem cell research being done with it through this organization’s blog.

Commentary Here, you’ll get not only news, but commentary on stem cell issues as well.

  1. David Granovsky’s Stem Cell Blog: Ranked as one of the top health bloggers by Wellsphere, David Granovsky’s blog on stem cells is sure to provide you more  information on the subject than you’ll have time to read.
  2. California Stem Cell Report: See how stem cell politics are affecting research and development in California through this blog written by journalist David Jensen.
  3. Advance Stem Cell Research: Follow the latest news and commentary on stem cells with this blog.

Research-These blogs, many from labs and experts in the field, focus on providing news and information on the best research being done with stem cells in the world.

  1. Knoepfler Lab Stem Cell Blog: The UC Davis School of Medicine maintains this blog, providing readers with information on everything stem cell as well as other science-related issues.
  2. CIRM Research Results: The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine shares their latest discoveries and political battles here.
  3. Robert Lanza, MD: Dr. Robert Lanza is a scientist and professor working on issues related to cell technology and engineering; his blog will provide readers with some insights into the field and his research.
  4. Stem Cell Gateway: Whether you live in the U.S. or abroad, this blog is the place to visit for information geared towards the stem cell research community.
  5. Tissue and Cellular Innovation Center Blog: Focused on tissue engineering and stem cell biology, this center is at the forefront of much of the research they share via this blog.
  6. Stem Cell Breaking Research: Need to know the absolute latest on stem cell research? This blog may be one of your best bets, with updates posted every day.
  7. Stem Cell Digest.net: On this blog, you’ll find information about stem cell research, progress, new applications and companies who are doing the work.
  8. Stem Cell Methods: Researchers, scientists and medical professionals can learn more about the protocols and methods being used in stem cell research and treatment through this blog.

Author’s not (6/1/2011). This excellent site was brought to my attention by Dr. Anthony G. Payne- www.stemcelltherapies.org: This site is run by Steenblock Research Institute (San Clemente, California) which is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization devoted to stem cell related education and research (SRI has a massive library facility and  stem cell R & D laboratory).

Dr. Steve Stice to Present the Power of StemEZ Neural Cells

STEMEZ hN2 Primary Human Neurons

STEMEZ hN2 Primary Human Neurons

I have profiled Steve Stice’s research here. The focus has been the excellent research results he and his team at ArunA Biomedical have generated with STEMEZ(TM) hN2 Human Neurons and hNP1 Human Neural Progenitors.

The story continues. He will be presenting the latest at the 9th Annual World Pharmaceutical Congress in Philadelphia, June 14. Topics include: using these neural cell lines to study neurotoxicity in cell-based assays and disease modeling.  Recent work conducted in outside laboratories demonstrates that these lines are more sensitive to environmental toxicants than traditional cellular models.

Sample high throughput assay applications:

  • Cell morphology and neurite outgrowth
  • Cell signaling and transcription factor expression
  • Receptor and ion channel function
  • Cytotoxicity
  • Apoptosis, genotoxicity and DNA damage

These capabilities has been confirmed by our customers. I look for the use of the STEMEZ cell lines to continue to grow as researchers discover their value in Drug Discovery and Basic Neuroscience capabilities.

Coming Soon-Dr. Steve Hall

Dr. Steve Hall

Dr. Steve Hall

Dr Steve Hall has been a friend, collaborator and mentor since I purchased Neuromics. This includes being a Neuromics’ Premier supplier of Stem Cells and Related Markers, Media and Methods. Steve is currently President at AlphaGenix, Inc.

His expertise includes developing novel products and technologies for basic and clinical research with a particular emphasis on stem cell markers, biomaterials and regenerative medicine. The biomaterials product focus involves the design and application of 3-dimensional biomaterials comprised of extracellular matrix components and peptide nanofibers that have cell culture and tissue engineering applications. In addition, the company conducts regenerative medicine research that involves basic science and translational preclinical research using stem cell regulatory network discoveries and novel preclinical studies utilizing animal models with a focus on neurological disease.

He is a contributor to: Stem Cell Therapy for Neurological Diseases Stem cell therapy for the treatment of acute and chronic neurological diseases

Harting, Matthew T., Cox, Charles S. and Hall, Stephen G.  Adult Stem Cell Therapy for Neurological Disease: Preclinical evidence for cellular therapy as a treatment for neurological disease. In Vemore and Vinoglo (eds): Regulatory Networks in Stem Cells. Humana Press, pp 561-573, (2009). More information.

Stay tuned for Steve’s backstory in June!

Isolating and Maintaining Embryonic Stem Cells

I have featured Steve Stice and his team at ArunA Biomedical and UGA. They are pioneers in developing Embryonic Stem Cell Based Cultures and Assays for Drug Discovery and Basic Research. Given the importance of their work, I am commited to keeping my finger on the pulse of their advances and discoveries.

Here they isolate, and maintain in culture, neural progenitors demonstrating properties of these neural epithelial cells from WA09 human embryonic stem cells (hESCs):

D.W. Machacek, S. K. Dhara, C. Sturkie, K. Hasneen, D. Carter, L. Murrah Hanson, P.R. MacLeish, M. Benveniste, S.L. Stice. DIFFERENTIATION OF HUMAN EMBRYONIC STEM CELL DERIVED NEURAL PROGENITORS INTO FUNCTIONALLY RESPONSIVE POPULATIONS IN THE ABSENCE OF EXOGENOUS EGF.

Stem Cell News Update

Dr. Steve Stice is in the on deck circle. We will be featuring his work in developing neural stem cell based assays for use in drug discovery. These platforms have the potential to help more efficiently and accuratelyidentify targets for pain, neurodegeneration and other CNS and PNS related diseases.

As a back drop, we wanted to feature several updates. First is a brief summary of the current positions of the Presidential Candidates.

Sen. John McCain

.- John McCain has set his sights on Florida as the state’s primary draws closer. In a conversation with Catholics in Florida and CNA this afternoon, McCain maintained his support for embryonic stem cell research while emphasizing his hope that it will become an academic issue given the latest scientific advances.

When he was asked how he reconciled his otherwise solid pro-life voting record with his support for experimentation on “surplus” embryos, Sen. McCain called his decision to back the research “a very agonizing and tough decision”. He continued, saying, “All I can say to you is that I went back and forth, back and forth on it and I came in on one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever had, in favor of that research. And one reason being very frankly is those embryos will be either discarded or kept in permanent frozen status.” The senator, while standing firm on his decision added, “I understand how divisive this is among the pro-life community.”

Referring to the recent break through in stem cell research which allows scientists to use skin cells to create stem cells, McCain said that, “I believe that skin stem cell research has every potential very soon of making that discussion academic…. Sam Brownback and others are very encouraged at this latest advance….”’

Sen. Barack Obama
Advocates increased stem cell research. Campaign Web site states: “We owe it to the American public to explore the potential of stem cells to treat the millions of people suffering from debilitating and life-threatening diseases.” Supported legislation during his tenure in the Illinois Senate that allowed embryonic stem cell research in that state.Opposes human cloning.

Voted in support of these congressional stem-cell bills:

– The Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, which amends the Public Health Service Act to provide for human embryonic stem cell research.

– The Alternative Pluripotent Stem Cell Therapies Enhancement Act, which promotes research into deriving stem cell lines by methods “that do not knowingly harm embryos.”

– The Fetal Farming Bill of 2006, which prohibits the “solicitation or acceptance of tissue from embryos gestated for research purposes.”

He was one of the co-sponsors of the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007 (S. 5), which expands the number of human embryonic stem cells eligible for federally funded research.

Regardless…research using cells derived from government approved cell lines and aborted/miscarried fetuses marches into the face of uncertain funding and a raging moral debate. Both candidates are taking risks and demonstrating leadership…in the season of hope and new beginnings, I look foward to cogent policy and funding levels that enable the development of therapies that treat the millions of people suffering from debiliatating diseases.

An alternative, though in its infancy, could be induced pluripotency (iPS).

Here’s a recent interview with Dr. James Thompson who published the first two papers on making human iPS cells.

Nature Reports Stem Cells
Published online: 14 August 2008 | doi:10.1038/stemcells.2008.118

James Thomson: shifts from embryonic stem cells to induced pluripotency