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By David Holley, Xconomy Texas
San Antonio - StemBioSys, the life sciences company with a system for growing stem cells, has licensed an experimental technology from University of Texas Health San Antonio that may help identify healthy young adult stem cells among large pools of other cells.
There's plenty of research examining how to possibly use adult stem cells as treatments for medical conditions, ranging from cardiac disease to metabolic disorders, but current uses are rather limited to therapies like bone-marrow transplants for blood disorders, especially in children. Treatments that use patients' own stem cells may be safer than using stem cells from someone else because they might reduce the potential for an immune response, according to StemBioSys CEO Bob Hutchens. That's still theoretical, he says.
Finding large quantities of usable adult stem cells is difficult, though. StemBioSys believes its new technology can potentially identify a few thousand high-quality, young stem cells from a sample of tens of thousands of cells taken from a patient, Hutchens says-potentially being a key word.
The research is quite early-the technology has only been studied in animal models and in vitro, and StemBioSys is in the process of applying for federal grants to take the research into animal trials. If StemBioSys' new intellectual property can successfully isolate the stem cells, Hutchens says they could grow more of them with StemBioSys' core product.
StemBioSys sells a so-called extracellular matrix product made of proteins that provide a hospitable environment for stem cells, helping them divide and produce more stem cells.
"What's intriguing to us is that it's a really interesting application of our technology," Hutchens says. "You take this combination of identifying this very small population of young healthy cells in elderly people, and use our technology to expand it."
If the company can indeed find the young stem cells of a single patient and replicate them, it would give researchers and physician an accessible pool of the cells that they'd want for potential stem cell transplants and other treatments, Hutchens says.
Terms of the deal weren't disclosed. StemBioSys, which was founded based on other University of Texas System research, acquired a portfolio of issued and pending patents. Famed MIT researcher and Xconomist Robert Langer is on the company's board of directors.
Again, there's plenty to prove out with this early stage research, so it will take time before any potential commercialization comes to fruition. Travis Block, the researcher who helped develop the technology while earning his PhD. last year at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, will help shepherd the project along and other regenerative medicine work as StemBioSys's senior scientist.