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August 21st, 2014 · Leave a Comment

“HLHS Feel the Beat” – Nov. 8, 2014

By Center for Regenerative Medicine


The second anHLHSnual “HLHS Feel the Beat” will be held Saturday, November 8 at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MInn. “HLHS Feel the Beat” is a fun-filled family event built around science, advocacy, families and patients. The Todd and Karen Wanek Family Program for HLHS will share the research being conducted that is changing the future for those affected by HLHS.


More information on the event is available on the HLHS Cause to Cure blog.


To learn more about HLHS research, visit the Center for Regenerative Medicine website.


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July 30th, 2014 · Leave a Comment

Bacardi’s Gift to Significantly Advance Mayo Clinic’s Regenerative Medicine Research

By Center for Regenerative Medicine

Imagine a future in which a new lung is grown for a patient in need, using the patient’s own cellular material, or a day when an injection of replacement cells will enable a patient to self-heal damage in the brain, nerves or other tissues.

Regenerative medicine is no longer science fiction, and a substantial gift from Jorge and Leslie Bacardi of the Bahamas will significantly accelerate the research of Mayo Clinic’s Center for Regenerative Medicine on the Florida campus.

Jorge and Leslie Bacardi

Jorge Bacardi, whose family has manufactured rum and other spirits for 150 years, suffered since childhood with primary ciliary dyskinesia, a debilitating lung disease that nearly ended his life. A double lung transplant at Mayo’s Florida campus in 2008 enabled him to take his first full breath of air at age 64.

“Regenerative medicine is an extraordinary step in the evolution of mankind,” says Jorge Bacardi. “It is for Leslie and I a great honor to be able to join Mayo Clinic in the development of such an advancement in the medical field."

Mayo’s regenerative medicine researchers are targeting conditions throughout the body, including heart diseasestrokeAlzheimer’s disease and traumatic injuries that affect combat veterans. Some studies are in the earliest stages. Others are in clinical trials with patients.

Researchers now can differentiate stem cells into skin, brain, lung and many other types of cells. For example, a patient's own skin cells may be collected, reprogrammed in a laboratory to give them certain characteristics, and then delivered back to the patient to treat diseases at various places within the body.

Leslie Bacardi says the couple was amazed by a segment on ABC’s “Nightline,” a late-night television news program, which showed beating heart tissue that Mayo Clinic researchers had developed from the skin tissue of one of the program’s reporters.

“That, to us, was just mind-boggling,” Leslie Bacardi says. “We really sincerely think that’s the future, and Mayo Clinic will make it happen. Think about a patient with Lou Gehrig’s disease, or diabetes. Are we going to get rid of that disease for them? I hope so."

“Regenerative medicine is for us an investment in our future and the future of medicine.  It may take a while to reap any benefits but when those benefits do come, it will make the investment seem small. The excitement with which we look forward to the advancement of regenerative medicine will keep us hopeful for solutions to many medical mysteries.”

The Bacardis’ gift will establish the Jorge and Leslie Bacardi Fund in Regenerative Medicine honoring Cesar A. Keller, M.D., the physician who provided care to Jorge Bacardi before and after his double lung transplant and who is currently involved in regenerative medicine lung research.

Their gift also will be used to accelerate regenerative medicine work on the Mayo Clinic Florida campus, and will establish the Jorge and Leslie Bacardi Associate Director for the Center of Regenerative Medicine in Florida, a position currently held by Thomas A. Gonwa, M.D.

We are very grateful for the Bacardis’ gift, which will greatly accelerate our ability to provide regenerative medicine solutions to patients,” says Dr. Gonwa, who is also chair of the Department of Transplantation atMayo Clinic in Florida. “The Bacardis’ generosity will help us transform medical care for people with some of the most difficult-to-treat conditions.”

The Bacardis’ latest gift builds upon their generosity. They, with other family members, made the lead gift to build the Gabriel House of Care on Mayo Clinic's campus in Jacksonville, Florida, to provide affordable, long-term housing and a supportive environment for visiting transplant and radiation oncology patients.The name honors Christopher Mark Gregory, who lost his life at age 19, and whose gift of organ donation enabled Jorge Bacardi to receive his transplant. Before Jorge Bacardi knew his organ donor by name, he wrote a heartfelt letter of gratitude to the donor family in which he referred to Christopher Gregory as "Gabriel," his saving angel.

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July 18th, 2014 · Leave a Comment

Lung Regeneration in the Center for Regenerative Medicine

By Center for Regenerative Medicine

Regenerative medicine has the potential to provide innovative new therapies for people with lung diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)pulmonary fibrosiscystic fibrosispulmonary arterial hypertension and bronchiolitis obliterans.

In their end stages, these diseases are today treated with medications or lung transplants, though there is an ongoing shortage of donor lungs that are acceptable for transplantation.

Research into lung preservation, lung recellularization and stem cell biology in the Center for Regenerative Medicine is leading to the development of new regenerative therapies for people with a wide range of lung diseases. Research in this areas is focused on recellularization of decellularized lungs and stem cell engimeering.

Mayo Clinic researchers are studying lung decellularization and recellularization toward a goal of on-demand production of patient-specific, transplant-ready lungs.

Lung decellularization involves removing all the cells from a donor lung, leaving behind just a tissue scaffold that can be recellularized (repopulated) with induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells derived from a patient's own cells. Mayo researchers are working toward generating a functioning lung suitable for transplantation by recellularizing a decellularized porcine lung.

Given these promising results in animal models, Mayo investigators are now working to recellularize human lungs. They're also populating decellularized matrix fragments with iPS cells to determine how iPS cells can optimally be made to differentiate into various types of lung cells.

Stem cell engineering. To better understand how to effectively and consistently produce patient-specific iPS cells for lung-related clinical applications, Mayo Clinic researchers are conducting a clinical trial in which they generate iPS cells from skin fibroblasts of people with various end-stage lung diseases.

With further research, investigators believe these iPS cells could be differentiated into patient-specific pulmonary epithelial cells and delivered back to the patient by way of cell therapy.

Learn more:

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Tags: dennis wigle, lung regeneration, stem cells

June 18th, 2014 · Leave a Comment

State of Minnesota Invests in Regenerative Medicine

By Center for Regenerative Medicine

AT-testifyingRegenerative medicine recently got a boost in Minnesota, and Mayo Clinic is among the institutions that will benefit.

During the 2014 Minnesota legislative session the legislature passed, and Governor Mark Dayton signed, legislation including funding for a regenerative medicine collaboration with the University of Minnesota.

The new initiative will receive $4.5 million in funding from the State of Minnesota this year and $4.35 million in subsequent years to support regenerative medicine research, clinical translation and commercialization efforts. Additionally, the regenerative medicine initiative will include representatives from private industry and others with expertise in in these areas that are not affiliated with the University or Mayo Clinic.

“Through this event, the state of Minnesota is essentially embracing regenerative medicine and surgery as the future of health care,” says Andre Terzic, M.D., Ph.D., director of Mayo Clinic’s Center for Regenerative Medicine.

Below, Dr. Terzic answers some questions about regenerative medicine and this new initiative:

Q: What is regenerative medicine?

A: Regenerative medicine and surgery uses the body’s ability to restore structure and function. At Mayo Clinic, the Center for Regenerative Medicine is addressing the root causes of diseases, injuries and congenital anomalies by using the body’s natural ability to heal itself (rejuvenation), delivering cells or cell products to diseased tissues or organs to restore function (regeneration), and using healthy cells, tissues or organs from a living or deceased donor to replace damaged ones (replacement).

Q: How will the money be used?

A: While Mayo Clinic will work closely with the University to establish a process going forward, the intent is to support regenerative medicine research, clinical translation, and commercialization efforts in Minnesota. There is great promise in this field of medicine, and we have a unique opportunity to leverage the strengths of institutions like the University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic to position Minnesota more competitively.

Q: What does the investment in regenerative medicine mean for the state of Minnesota?

A: Support for regenerative medicine from the state will not only help advance the science, but will position our state more competitively and demonstrate that this field of medicine is a priority. The new law will place Minnesota among several other states that have backed such research with state funds. Using regenerative medicine, we are creating new therapies that we believe will lead to innovative and definitive solutions for our patients. We also believe that we can open new economic opportunities through commercialization of technologies as the field evolves.

Q: What was it like being part of the legislative process/testifying?

A: It was gratifying to see the legislative interest and commitment to regenerative medicine. I have a strong appreciation for the work and choices that our elected officials make on a daily basis. We are pleased that creating and providing funding for this new initiative between Mayo Clinic and the University was included in the end.

The opportunity to provide testimony enabled me to share the promise of regenerative medicine, answer very good and thoughtful questions, and witness great interest and support for the work we are doing and the work we will do with the University with the passage of this bill.

Learn more about regenerative medicine at Mayo Clinic in the video below:


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Tags: Andre Terzic, regenerative medicine, stem cells, University of Minnesota

June 9th, 2014 · Leave a Comment

New Hope: Stem Cell Trial for ALS Patients

By Center for Regenerative Medicine

From the pages of Mayo Clinic Magazine.

Ted Haakonson

Ted Haakonson

Regenerative medicine at Mayo Clinic harnesses its collective knowledge, resources and skills to teach the body to heal from within. This unprecedented science offers patients definitive solutions for devastating diseases and conditions.


Patient Number Five

“We thought, ‘jeez, this cure has to start somewhere, someone has to be patient zero,’” says Ted Haakonson. He is patient number five in the Center for Regenerative Medicine’s clinical trial testing stem cells to treat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease).

He was shocked when his local doctor told him he had ALS two years ago. The only symptom he had noticed was a weak thumb. But by the time the 49-year-old received the stem cell treatment at Mayo Clinic a year later, both his hands were weak, his legs twitched uncontrollably and he fell asleep several times a day.

Within a couple of weeks, his legs became steadier and his energy levels rose.

“I’m of the belief that it has helped quite a bit,” Ted says.

“The rate of progression seems to have slowed, and I’m still doing whatever I want to do. Some things like baking and woodworking take a lot longer, but I hate to think of where I’d be right now if I hadn’t been accepted into the study or gotten the stem cells. It was like winning the lottery.”


Engineering a Cure

In ALS, nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord progressively degenerate and eventually die, leaving the brain unable to control muscle movement. There is no cure. But Mayo Clinic’s Anthony J. Windebank, M.D., deputy director-Discovery of the Center for Regenerative Medicine, and Nathan P. Staff, M.D., Ph.D., are providing new hope.

The team in the Human Cell Therapy Lab takes cells from fat tissue and re-engineers them into stem cells. They then enhance the ability of these cells — technically known as mesenchymal stem cells — to promote nerve health.

As part of the country’s first phase one stem cell trial for ALS patients, the team placed these cells directly into Ted’s spinal fluid, believing the stem cells would secrete growth factors and protect nerve cells from further degeneration.

The investigators quickly caution that the primary goal of phase one studies is to measure safety, which makes the investigators grateful to participants like Ted who selflessly enter the unknown. The investigators also caution that not all trial participants describe the same improvements as Ted, though they are confident the technology is on the right track to benefit patients with this uniformly fatal disease.

Learn more about how researchers are studying the use of intraspinal deliver of mesenchymal stem cells to the cerebral spinal fluid of patients with ALS using a dose-escalation study below:

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Tags: ALS, clinical trial, Lou Gehrig, regenerative medicine, stem cells

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