UNMC researcher begins work on new embryonic stem cell line

A University of Nebraska Medical Center researcher, Angie Rizzino, Ph.D., has obtained one of the first new human embryonic stem cell lines approved for use by the National Institutes of Health since President Obama ordered an update of the federal stem cell research guidelines in March 2009.

The cell line, which was developed from embryos not viable for implantation, was obtained from the laboratory of George Daley, M.D., Ph.D., who is an associate professor of biological chemistry and molecular pharmacology at Harvard Medical School and an oncologist for Children’s Hospital and Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.
Dr. Rizzino, who is a professor in the Eppley Institute for Research in Cancer and Allied Diseases, plans to start working with the new human embryonic stem cell line in the near future.
The research in his laboratory has several major goals. These include:
·         Understanding key molecular mechanisms that control the dual properties of human pluripotent stem cells – their ability to replicate without limit and their ability to develop into virtually any cell type of the human body. 
·         Understanding the molecular mechanisms that control the formation of human and mouse induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), which are similar to embryonic stem cells and which can be generated from a wide range of adult human cells. 
·         Developing an understanding of the molecular mechanisms that control the growth of difficult-to-treat human cancers.
“The science, technology and regulation of the use of human embryonic stem cells have advanced dramatically in recent years,” said Tom Rosenquist, Ph.D., vice chancellor for research. “The expanded NIH-funded stem cell research initiative will result in an explosion of data that will hasten the therapeutic and life-saving application of stem cells.
“Lives will be improved, extended and saved. It is exciting and important that one of our most well-respected senior scientists, Dr. Rizzino, is going to be part of this process.”
Before Dr. Rizzino could obtain the new cell line, he had to receive approval from UNMC’s Institutional Review Board and its Embryonic Stem Cell Research Oversight (ESCRO) Committee. 
The 10-member ESCRO Committee, which was formed by UNMC to specifically deal with embryonic stem cell research, includes eight UNMC scientists as well as two community members, one of whom is a non-scientist.
A second UNMC scientist, Surinder Batra, Ph.D., professor and chairman of the biochemistry and molecular biology department, also has received permission from the IRB and the ESCRO Committee to use human embryonic stem cells. He has a research project in the planning phase. His research deals with Type I diabetes.
For more information on all of UNMC's regenerative medicine research, please go to http://www.unmc.edu/regenerativemed/.
As the state’s only academic health science center, UNMC is on the leading edge of health care. Breakthroughs are possible because hard-working researchers, educators and clinicians are resolved to work together to fuel discovery. In 2009, UNMC’s extramural research support topped $100 million for the first time, resulting in the creation of 3,600 jobs in Nebraska. UNMC’s academic excellence is shown through its award-winning programs, and its educational programs are responsible for training more health professionals practicing in Nebraska than any other institution. Through its commitment to education, research, patient care and outreach, UNMC and its hospital partner, The Nebraska Medical Center, have established themselves as one of the country's leading health care centers. UNMC's physician practice group, UNMC Physicians, includes 550 physicians in 50 specialties and subspecialties who practice primarily in The Nebraska Medical Center. For more information, go to UNMC’s Web site at www.unmc.edu.



Tom O'Connor
UNMC Public Relations
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