Latest News and Highlights from Mayo Clinic's Center for Regenerative Medicine

Fri, Feb 17

The Countdown is on: Stem Cells Heading to Space

By Center for Regenerative Medicine centerforregmedmc

Previously published on the Mayo Clinic News Network.

Stem cell research is about to get a boost that’s out of this world. If all goes as planned, the SpaceX CRS-10 mission will blast off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Titusville, Florida this weekend to resupply the International Space Station. There will also be something extra in the payload: human adult stem cells.

After more than three years of planning and preparation, and with technical assistance provided by the Center for Applied Space Technology, Dr. Abba Zubair, a Mayo Clinic stem cell biologist is finally taking his quest for answers into orbit.

Dr. Zubair says, "We know stem cells grow differently using simulated microgravity. Primarily, our focus is to see if microgravity actually can help stem cells to expand faster, so that we can grow more of them to bring back to use for human application.” Here’s Dennis Douda for the Mayo Clinic News Network:

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Tags: Abba Zubair, mayo clinic, Mayo Clinic in Florida, mayo clinic medical research, regenerative medicine, stem cells

Thu, Feb 9

The Case for Stem Cell Treatments for ALS

By Center for Regenerative Medicine centerforregmedmc

When nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord stop working normally there is a noticeable change in muscle movement and activity. Motor neurons work with the brain to control muscle movement such as gripping and walking. These activities become increasingly difficult with the onset of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease or motor neuron disease.

There is no effective treatment for ALS. According to the ALS Association, an estimated 20,000 Americans between the ages of 40 and 70 are living with the progressively paralytic disorder. It is still unknown why the symptoms begin to manifest out of the blue. The time frame from the onset of symptoms to the end of life can be as short as three years. For most, the disease is not inherited; only a small percentage of patients carry the genes that are associated with ALS.

One medical approach is to try to keep the nerve cells alive as long as possible. Researchers and clinicians at Mayo Clinic are looking at the potential of cell-based therapies to promote the healing response.

“We don’t know why nerve cells die prematurely,” says Anthony Windebank, M.D. “The hope with this therapy is to protect the neurons that are there and to slow the disease course.”

One cell type derived from the patient’s fat cells, mesenchymal stromal cell (MSC), has been suggested as a possible therapy to treat ALS. MSCs are known to secrete proteins that support the growth and survival of developing and mature neurons. MSCs and cytokines (small proteins) also have a controlling influence on the immune system. Research shows that the immune system has an influence on the progression of ALS.

A novel phase I clinical trial at Mayo Clinic set out to study the safety of MSC therapy. Twenty-seven participants with ALS enrolled in the study and were treated in a MSC dose-escalation safety trial over several months. The study was led by Mayo Clinic neurologists Anthony Windebank, M.D. and Nathan P. Staff, M.D., Ph.D.

The results show the safety protocol is positive and the treatment is safe at the tested dosage levels. The most common side effects were temporary low back and radicular leg pain at the highest dosage levels. There was no sign of tumor formation, which is a concern with cell-based therapies. The study, Safety of intrathecal autologous adipose-derived mesenchymal stromal cells in patients with ALS, is published online in Neurology®, the journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The Revised ALS Functional Rating Scale questionnaire was taken throughout the study along with clinical examinations. Some participants reported mild, temporary, and subjective clinical improvement lasting two months or less. These effects cannot be interpreted as a positive response to MSC treatment because the trial was not blinded or placebo controlled. Progression of the disease continued in the treated patients.

The results of the safety profile indicate that the research should go forward with a longer study to determine effectiveness, and whether earlier intervention or additional MSC treatments over a longer period of time will produce meaningful results.

“We saw enough of a signal in a subset of patients to indicate that we should go on with a longer study,” says Windebank.

Phase II

The Phase II study will treat a larger group of patients for a longer period of time with the higher dosage levels. The study will include about 60 patients. All participants will receive the treatment. The study will match patients participating in the Pooled Resource Open Access ALS Clinical Trials, PRO-ACT database. The database contains more than 8,500 ALS patients participating in clinical trials. Mayo Clinic statisticians will use the de-identified and merged data from existing public and private ALS clinical trials in the database. The statisticians will match database participants with Phase II study patients on data points such as age at onset, gender, and other factors.

The Phase II study will start mid-2017 and is planned to run for 12 months. The Phase II study is partially funded by the Judith & Jean Pape Adams Charitable Foundation and a grant from Regenerative Medicine Minnesota. The study will begin incrementally while additional funding is sought through additional research grants.

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Tags: Anthony Windebank, mayo clinic, mayo clinic medical research, Mayo Clinic research, Nathan Staff, regenerative medicine, stem cells

Tue, Jan 31

Mayo’s Symposium on Regenerative Medicine and Surgery to Feature Latest Research

By Center for Regenerative Medicine centerforregmedmc

It is not too late to register for the  Mayo Clinic Symposium on Regenerative Medicine and Surgery, Feb. 15-17, 2017 at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Ariz. Presentations will feature the latest in regenerative medicine and surgery, including general sessions in bioinformatics, ethics, project management, regulatory landscapes, technological capabilities and therapeutic applications. Click here to view the agenda.

Attendees are invited to submit abstracts for poster display at the conference reception on Thursday evening. Awards for excellence will be given to first place ($300), second place ($200) and third place ($100). Please apply on the registration website. The deadline for submitting an abstract for the poster session is Friday, February 10, 2017.

Additional information and registration details are located on the symposium registration website. Registration is $199. Discounted rates are available at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa, the conference location, for $299 until Feb. 1, 2017.

Contact Jacquelyn Gosse, external collaborations manager, Mayo Clinic at for additional information.

Learn more about Mayo Clinic’s Center for Regenerative Medicine.

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Tags: event, mayo clinic, medical research, regenerative medicine, research, stem cells

Wed, Jan 25

Four Mayo Clinic Investigators Receive Research Awards from ‘Regenerative Medicine Minnesota’

By Center for Regenerative Medicine centerforregmedmc

Regenerative Medicine Minnesota recently announced the 2017 Regenerative Medicine Minnesota Research Awards. This year's research grants were aimed at developing and retaining early stage investigators. After review by 15 international reviewers, the top-scoring grants have been awarded funding. Four Mayo Clinic investigators were selected to receive awards.

Mayo Clinic awardees include:


Patricia Devaux, Ph.D.

Dr. Devaux is an assistant professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Mayo Clinic. Her research grant proposes to validate the use of new technology to reprogram human blood cells into pluripotent cells, and studying their re-differentiation into functional insulin producing cells for the treatment of diabetes.




Mi-Hyeon Jang, Ph.D.

Dr. Jang is assistant professor of Neurosurgery and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Mayo Clinic. She is working to define a molecular target that promotes oligodendrocyte development, a major myelin producing cell in the central nervous system, in order to promote remyelination for functional recovery. This understanding will provide insight into novel therapeutic interventions effectively targeting a broad range of myelin-related disorders.



Rodrigo Ruano, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Ruano is the division chair of Maternal and Fetal Medicine at Mayo Clinic. He aims to establish a Fetoscopic Regenerative Program in Minnesota, evaluate the feasibility and safety of prenatal tracheal occlusion to regenerate fetal lung growth, and participate in the multicenter randomized study (Phase II) to investigate the efficacy of FETO in regenerating fetal lung growth (randomized controlled trial) under FDA regulations.



Satsuki Yamada, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Yamada is an assistant professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic. Her study seeks to develop a regenerative therapy to correct disrupted wall motion (“cardiac dyssynchrony”) after a heart attack. Under conditions replicating patient management of this resilient disorder, the safety and efficacy of a new class of patient-derived stem cells delivered into diseased heart regions will be tested by a multidisciplinary team. Successful outcome will provide the foundation for first-in-human studies targeting heart muscle synchronization in refractory heart failure.


Regenerative medicine focuses on the body’s natural ability to repair, replace, and regenerate damaged or aging tissues, and to restore functionality. Physicians and scientists are using native and bioengineered cells, assistive devices, and engineering platforms to develop new treatments with the potential to fully heal the underlying causes of diseases, rather than only manage disease symptoms.

Regenerative Medicine Minnesota is a joint venture between the University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic, and funded by the Minnesota Legislature, with the goal of distributing millions of dollars to advance regenerative medicine in the state through research, education, healthcare, and business. The program, which was funded during the 2014 legislative session for ten years, is  in its third year of operation.


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Tags: mayo clinic, medical research, Mi-Hyeon Jang, Patricia Devaux, regenerative medicine, Regenerative Medicine Minnesota, research, research grants, Rodrigo Ruano, Satsuki Yamada, stem cells

Tue, Jan 17

Regenerative Medicine Minnesota Grant Applications are Now Open

By Center for Regenerative Medicine centerforregmedmc

Regenerative Medicine Minnesota recently announced the release of the 2017-2018 grant applications for Education Programs, Biotechnology/Biobusiness, and Clinical Care.

Grant proposals are due Tuesday, February 14, 2017, by 5:00 PM CST. The Requests for Proposals (RFPs) and the application links can be found here.

Questions regarding the application process can be directed to the Regenerative Medicine Minnesota contact form.

Grant awards will be announced on April 30, 2017.

Regenerative Medicine Minnesota aims to improve the health of Minnesotans by advancing regenerative medicine research, education, industry and care delivery to patients. This state-wide initiative will open new economic opportunities through commercialization of technologies. Regenerative Medicine Minnesota leverages the strengths of Minnesota institutions to position the state at the forefront of regenerative medicine.

 In May of 2014, the Minnesota State Legislature allocated 10 years of support, $4.5 million (the first year) and $4.35 million per year thereafter, to fund research, education, patient care, and business development initiatives that improve or increase access to regenerative medicine throughout the state.

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Tags: Clinical Research, funding, grant, mayo clinic, regenerative medicine, Regenerative Medicine Minnesota, research, stem cells

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