Posts (11)

Thu, Jan 16 11:44am · Collaboration brings innovative regenerative therapies to babies with rare heart defect

A collaboration bringing together
regional centers and advocacy groups to accelerate innovation and discovery is
expanding, bringing clinical trials and expertise to more patients with
Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) across the country. Led by Mayo
Clinic’s Todd and Karen Wanek Family Program for HLHS
, the collaboration
began in 2017 and now has 10 members. Nine are hospitals and one is an advocacy
group for patients and families.

HLHS is a rare and complex form
of congenital heart disease in which the left side of a child’s heart is
severely underdeveloped. Today, standard treatment for people with HLHS
includes three staged surgeries that enable the right ventricle to pump blood
to the entire body. While
many patients are able to live relatively normal lives as a result, there’s often
a need for treatment later in life. Approximately half of all patients will
still need a heart transplant by age 10. 

“The consortium allows for a
decrease in the amount of time from research and discovery to the clinical
application of innovative cell-based therapies,” says Tim
Nelson, M.D., Ph.D.
, director of the Todd and Karen Wanek Family
Program for Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome.

The program works with hospitals
across the U.S. to develop innovative cell-based research opportunities to
transform the lives of people living with HLHS.

Regenerative medicine strategies
have the potential to be an additional treatment for the management of critical
congenital heart disease. Using stem cells of different types and from various
sources — including autologous cells (from the patient’s own body) —
regenerative therapies may stimulate cardiac tissue to grow stronger and heal
faster after surgery. 

Consortium members include Children’s of Alabama, Children’s Hospital Colorado, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Children’s Minnesota, The
Children’s Hospital at OU Medicine
, Children’s
Hospital of Philadelphia
, Cincinnati
, Mayo Clinic, and Ochsner
Hospital for Children
, as well as the advocacy group Sisters by Heart.

To date, 71 patients have been
treated on four regenerative therapy clinical trials sponsored by the program.
A Phase IIb study is currently open at six hospitals across the U.S.  During the second of three surgeries to
repair the heart, stem cells from the baby’s own umbilical cord blood are
injected into the heart muscle to help it grow stronger. New studies are in
development to include other single ventricle-dependent heart defects, as well
as to use stem cells during other planned surgeries. 

“By entering into this
collaboration, we are making it possible for all children with HLHS to be able
to participate in groundbreaking cell-based treatments, no matter their
location,” says Dr. Nelson.

To learn more, visit the Mayo
Clinic’s Todd and Karen Wanek Family Program for Hypoplastic Left Heart


The HLHS Program is a highly
comprehensive program advancing causes and cures for congenital heart disease,
in particular hypoplastic left heart syndrome. The program takes a multifaceted
research approach that includes imaging and outcomes, human genetics, and
regenerative medicine. The Center
for Regenerative Medicine
is a champion of regenerative approaches to
medical conditions such as those within the HLHS Consortium.

Sun, Jan 5 10:18pm · Stem cells in space: A new frontier in regenerative medicine training

Rawan Al-Kharboosh

A Mayo Clinic graduate student is looking to the stars as a new way to advance regenerative therapies for cancer. Rawan Al-Kharboosh, a Ph.D. candidate at Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus, is investigating how stromal vascular fraction stem (SVF) cells react in microgravity and if that may be applied to fight the most deadly type of brain cancer — glioblastoma. SVF cells are a type of cells with the potential to regenerate tissue.

Treatment of the glioblastoma has seen little improvement in
outcome in the past decades, with a dismal prognosis and a devastating median
survival of 14.6 months. Despite vigorous treatment combinations of surgery,
chemotherapy and radiation, there is nearly a 100% recurrence rate. The
microscopic cells left behind after surgery – the ones that are not seen on an
MRI – are responsible for its resistance and ultimate relapse.

Al-Kharboosh is enrolled in the neuroscience track of Mayo’s Ph.D. program and is a scholar in the Regenerative Sciences Training Program (RSTP), supported by the Mayo Clinic Center for Regenerative Medicine. The program, led by Jennifer Westendorf, Ph.D., and administered through the Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, is designed to prepare the next generation of researchers and advance regenerative sciences into clinical practice. 

In January, Al-Kharboosh’s research cells are scheduled to
rocket on a suborbital flight, in which it reaches the point of weightlessness
but remains below the altitude where it can orbit Earth. She will examine how microgravity affects SVF cells derived from
human fat (adipose tissue), and if stem cells can be engineered in a way to
allow for same-day engineering. The results of her experiment may shed light on
whether SVF can be engineered in microgravity and if these cells could be reintroduced
to the brain during cancer surgery to promote healing.

“We isolate stromal vascular fraction derived from human fat
(adipose) tissue directly from patients in the operating room,” says
Al-Kharboosh. “We are exploring the possibility of engineering these cells with
nanoparticles to target and combat brain cancer by releasing a therapeutic

When returned to the patient, engineered adipose-derived
cells act as vehicles to target and combat the cancer cells. Right now, this is
done in a laboratory setting with the cells adhering to and growing on a
plastic plate. It takes a few hours for the cells to adhere to the plastic and
even longer for their growth. Al-Kharboosh was curious to find ways in which
the modified cells could be engineered in suspension rather than on a plate.

Engineering cells in suspension avoids laboratory
processing, is less expensive, more accessible and explores a platform where
“same-day” engineering is possible and could be done by a physician in the
operating room while patient is at the bedside.  

Al Rawan Al-Kharboosh and her mentor, Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa, M.D., the William J. and Charles H. Mayo Professor

“Rawan’s work is extraordinary. In some ways revolutionary,” says Al-Kharboosh’s mentor, Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa, M.D., a neurosurgeon on Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus. “She is helping to find potential therapies — and maybe one day cures — for patients with cancer and other neurological diseases. It is highly risky, but it also could be highly rewarding.”

Rawan says the students in the Regenerative Sciences
Training Program meet during class seminars and journal clubs to discuss their
research. They provide input on each other’s work and discuss ways to navigate
the discovery, translation and application of regenerative research and
therapeutics, and the more difficult topics of regulatory, political and
ethical considerations of regenerative medicine and stem cells.

Mayo Clinic Center for Regenerative Medicine supports 17 students
in the RSTP program, including Al-Kharboosh. The center selects student who
will go on to careers that advance the regenerative sciences field and bring
new regenerative therapies to patients. Al-Kharboosh says her dream is to be
the CEO of a large biotech company that discovers and develops regenerative
products for patients.

Read more about Rawan Al-Kharboosh and her research in Discovery’s

Dec 19, 2019 · Off the Shelf Vessels: A Regenerative Approach for Coronary Artery Bypass

Growing blood vessels in a lab for human use may sound like a futuristic dream. However, Mayo Clinic researchers are seeking to do just that to advance a regenerative approach to coronary bypass graft surgery. Through a Regenerative Medicine Minnesota grant, a Mayo research team is developing tissue that could grow into a blood vessel to be used in place of a patient’s own blood vessels to complete the heart bypass.

Coronary artery disease, also known as ischemic heart disease or coronary heart disease, is caused by narrowing or blocking of the coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle. Standard of care surgery relies on harvesting a vessel from the patient to create a bridge around the obstructed coronary vessel and restore normal blood flow. This approach, however, increases a patient’s surgical time and can result in increased pain and potential complications.

“Ischemic heart disease affects over 130,000 Minnesotans,” says Leigh Griffiths, Ph.D., MRCVS. “Through our research, we are developing and exploring a safe and effective vessel replacement for use in coronary artery bypass graft procedures to overcome limitations associated with current approaches.”

Using a tissue engineered vessel grown in a lab eliminates
the need to take a vessel from the patient’s own leg, arm or chest — that’s one,
instead of two surgeries, for the patient.

“Our previous research has developed animal-derived biomaterials
that are manipulated to allow patients bodies to accept them as their own.” says
Dr. Griffiths. “Importantly, such biomaterials are highly regenerative as they
contain coding information that helps body heal. These coding signals guide
pro-regenerative responses, which ultimately result in the biomaterial being
replaced by the patient’s own tissue.”

As principal investigator of the Cardiovascular Engineering Research Laboratory at Mayo Clinic, Dr. Griffiths leads a team dedicated to improving treatment of cardiovascular disease through discoveries in transplant immunology, regenerative medicine and tissue engineering. Their ongoing research may have diagnostic and therapeutic implications for patients with congenital cardiovascular defects, heart valve disease, aortic aneurysm, aortic dissection, heart transplant, peripheral artery disease and coronary artery disease.

More information:

Lab Website: Vascular Tissue Engineering Research Laboratory

Dec 18, 2019 · Stem Cells and Chronic Kidney Disease

Thank you for your interest. We would be happy to connect with you regarding regenerative medicine research, stem cell treatments and/or research at Mayo Clinic. Please call our Regenerative Medicine Consult Service at 844-276-2003 to schedule an appointment to speak with us. There is no charge for the appointment. We look forward to hearing from you.

Dec 12, 2019 · Regenerative Product Could Provide New Option for Women with Mesh Exposure Following Pelvic Reconstructive Surgery

Cassandra Kisby, M.D., and John Occhino, M.D.

Research is advancing a regenerative solution for a quality of life-limiting complication of mesh-based surgical repairs for stress urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse in women. While mesh-based surgical treatments are durable and provide symptom relief for a great number of patients, there is a risk of mesh complications following surgery, such as mesh exposure. In this situation, many patients require an additional surgery to revise their implant. Mayo Clinic research, supported by the Center for Regenerative Medicine, is testing a regenerative approach to restoring form and function without additional corrective surgery in the setting of vaginal mesh exposure.

Vaginal prolapse is a medical term for a condition that
leads to bulging of the pelvic organs, such as the bladder, uterus or rectum.
It happens when ligaments and muscles on the pelvic floor stretch and weaken,
no longer providing adequate support. Those internal organs slip down, bulging
through the vagina wall, causing prolapse. Alternatively, women can also
experience accidental leakage of urine with activity or cough, laugh and
sneeze. This is termed stress urinary incontinence. Often linked to child
birth, obesity or aging, incontinence and prolapse affect many women.  

Women with vaginal prolapse or urinary incontinence may
choose to undergo placement of mesh if they have failed conservative therapies.
Mesh is used in gynecology surgery to lift and support the pelvic organs,
typically the bladder or uterus, relieving the pressure that caused the pelvic
floor defect. However, like all surgery, there are potential risks. The mesh
sometimes wears through the vaginal walls, causing vaginal discharge and
possibly discomfort for women and their partners. Therein lies the dilemma: should
there be another surgery to remove the mesh or would the patient prefer to live
with the symptoms?

Mayo Clinic researchers are studying a new regenerative
option, called purified exosome product (PEP) to treat a complication of the
use of mesh in gynecologic surgery. Research, currently in animal models, is looking
at whether PEP could promote regeneration of tissue that would grow over the
mesh and restore the vaginal wall.

“While gynecological mesh is a viable option for many women, we wanted to create a non-surgical reparative option for our patients,” says John Occhino, M.D., clinician-scientist in gynecologic surgery with specialty training in urogynecology and pelvic reconstructive surgery. “We are studying the use of PEP to correct one of the most common side effects of mesh placement, the exposure of mesh through the vaginal wall after surgery.”

Exosomes are small membrane-bound vesicles secreted into the
body’s cellular environment. Imagine bubbles carrying a signal that tell the
body to regenerate and renew. For example, when the skin is scratched, exosomes
are sent to repair the skin. By delivering a high dose of purified exomes, researchers
can recruit numerous cells and pathways to help heal the tissue back to its original

“Our research injects an exosome gel into the vaginal
tissues of a preclinical model of mesh exposure,” says Cassandra Kisby, M.D., female
pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery fellow. “Four weeks after treatment we saw the vaginal
tissues had repaired and covered the prior mesh exposure.”

The regenerated tissues were physiologic, adds Dr. Kisby, meaning
there were new blood vessels, the tissues had normal amounts of collagen, and
there was minimal scaring.

Microscopic immunohistochemistry images showing areas of implanted mesh. The first image, treated with purified exosome product (PEP), has robust tissue regrowth (green) over the mesh and growth of the epithelium (red). The second did not receive PEP and has thin, broken tissue with little growth.

While this research is currently only being done in animal
models, Drs. Occhino, Kisby and team are working to develop a phase 1 clinical
trial to test the safety of PEP in humans within the next year.

“This technology opens the door for numerous applications in gynecology, including birth injury and repair, urinary incontinence, and fistulas.” says Dr. Kisby. “Our goal is to create a women’s health regenerative medicine program to help expedite the research and translation of this technology into clinical  practice.”

The Center for Regenerative Medicine recognizes Michael S. and Mary Sue Shannon for their generosity and support in advancing regenerative women’s health research.

Dec 5, 2019 · Mayo Clinic research is a step toward hope for spinal cord injuries

Thanks for your interest. Although enrollment for Phase I of the stem cell study for spinal cord injury is closed, Part II of this research study will begin in the near future. If you would like to learn more on the upcoming Phase II study, please email

If you are interested in other spinal cord injury research, please consider searching online at

Dec 3, 2019 · Mayo Clinic research is a step toward hope for spinal cord injuries

Thanks for your interest. Although enrollment for Phase I of the stem cell study for spinal cord injury is closed, Part II of this research study will begin in the near future. If you would like to learn more on the upcoming Phase II study, please email

If you are interested in other spinal cord injury research, please consider searching online at

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