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Home > Press > Minerva Biotechnologies Announces Major Stem Cell Breakthrough

Abstract:
Minerva Biotechnologies, a leading nanotechnology, cancer and stem cell development company today announced a major breakthrough in stem cell research. Minerva and collaborators at the University of California at Santa Barbara discovered that a single, new growth factor can not only support massive growth of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) in vitro, but also maintains them in a nearly 100% undifferentiated state without the need for fibroblast "feeder cells". This represents a major step forward for potential stem cell therapies as well as in the basic understanding of the mechanisms that regulate stem cell growth and differentiation.

Minerva Biotechnologies Announces Major Stem Cell Breakthrough

Boston, MA | Posted on October 4th, 2008

Their study, "MUC1* Mediates the Growth of Human Pluripotent Stem Cells"
(dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0003312), will be published tomorrow, October 3, 2008, in the journal PLoS ONE. The bi-coastal research team, led by Minerva's Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Cynthia Bamdad, discovered that a cell surface protein, MUC1, is in an altered form, MUC1*, on pluripotent embryonic stem cells but returns to its normal form when the stem cells begin to differentiate. This suggests that this receptor may be a pivotal switch in the process of differentiation. The investigators showed that by adding the growth factor that binds to MUC1* they could expand the hESCs and maintain pluripotency essentially indefinitely, yet commence differentiation upon removal of the factor. Kenneth S. Kosik, M.D., the Harriman Professor of Neuroscience and Co-Director of the UC Santa Barbara Neuroscience Research Institute, as well as a co-author on the paper said, "Given the extreme difficulty of isolating pure primitive human stem cells and amplifying them, these studies represent a big step forward for human stem cell research and the future of stem cell transplantation."

Remarkably, in a research article that published earlier this year, "A Minimal Fragment of MUC1 Mediates Growth of Cancer Cells", PLoS ONE 3(4): e2054 doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0002054), Minerva reported that MUC1 exists in the same altered form, MUC1*, on over 75% of human cancers. An emerging theory in cancer research is that cancer may be caused by a stem cell mechanism that has gone awry. Until now, parallels between stem cell growth and cancer growth have largely been speculative. The present study provides evidence of a fundamental growth mechanism that mediates the growth of both cancer cells and embryonic stem cells. The hunt for a stem cell mechanism that is "hijacked by cancer cells" was a challenge because it involved a molecular change that was only apparent when "viewed" using Minerva's proprietary nanoparticles.

####

About Minerva Biotechnologies
Minerva is a US-headquartered company focused on a next generation novel nanoparticle platform. Minerva enjoys a broad and dominant intellectual property position in the field of nanotechnology with over 100 patents or patent applications filed with US and worldwide rights reserved. Minerva’s intellectual property covers a wide range of uses for its nanoparticle systems in fields as diverse as drug discovery, proteomics, opto-electronics and nano-scale biosensors. Minerva has focused squarely on drug discovery and diagnostics for cancer and stem cell treatments and has used its nanotechnology in-house to expedite novel target identification and new drug development.

Copyright © 2008, Minerva Biotechnologies. All rights reserved.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Minerva Biotechnologies
Cynthia Bamdad
617-821-8773

Copyright © Minerva Biotechnologies

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