IN THE NEWS - VOLUME 1 - ISSUE 10 - May 20, 2015

May 14 - PennNews - Giving HOPE: U.S. Has Nearly 400 HIV-Positive Potential Organ Donors, Penn Study Find
In the first-of-its-kind study since the passage of the HIV Organ Policy Equity Act (the HOPE Act), which lifted the ban on organ donations from one HIV-positive person to another, Penn Medicine researchers report on the quality of these organs and how their use might impact the country’s organ shortage.  The study, published online ahead of print May 14 in the American Journal of Transplantation, revealed that there are nearly 400 HIV-positive potential organ donors who could be sources of donated organs annually for HIV-positive patients waiting for organ donations. More

May 06 - San Diego Union-Tribune - New stem cell may be key to human organs in animals
A team led by the Salk’s Juan Carlos Izpisúa Belmonte says it has combined a newly identified type of human stem cell with a mouse embryo allowed to partially develop. This resulted in growth that, at least in theory, could have produced distinct human tissues if the process had been allowed to proceed further. More

May 20 - University of Hong Kong - HKU leads the Asia's first genetically modified hematopoietic stem cell transplantation for late juvenile metachromatic leukodystrophy patient (MLD)
A stem cell research team at the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong (HKU) has led the first genetically modified hematopoietic stem cell transplantation in Asia for a Taiwanese juvenile with the fatal inherited disorder metachromatic leukodystrophy (MLD), through close collaboration with researchers from The Second People’s Hospital of Shenzhen (The First Affiliated Hospital of Shenzhen University), Mainland China, and the National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH), Taiwan. MLD is a devastating lysosomal storage disease caused by a deficiency of arylsulfatase A (ARSA). Without this enzyme, sulfatides are not broken down and accumulate in the white matter of the brain and nervous system, causing destruction of the myelin sheath, or demyelination. Early results of transplantation are very encouraging and the team has successfully saved the life of the patient with advanced-stage MLD. More

May 19 - Healio - Competitiveness increases number of yearly liver transplants
Transplantation centers in competitive areas have an increased number of liver transplantation operations annually, according to newly published data in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons. More

May 19 - Newsweek - It’s Easier to Donate Your Blood Than Stool
They say one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. This is certainly true when it comes to the growing body of favorable research on fecal microbiota transplantation. In this experimental medical procedure, stool from a healthy person is transplanted to the gut of an ailing patient. This icky concept has proven to be highly effective for treating recurrent clostridium difficile (c.difficile) infections, which involves a type of bacteria that’s often unresponsive to antibiotics. A study published in 2013 in the New England Journal of Medicine found 81 percent of patients with c.difficile who underwent transplantation made a full recovery from their illness. More

May 10 - The Guardian - Kidneys for sale: Iran’s trade in organs
Iran is the only country in the world where it is legal to sell a kidney. Donors get money from the buyer and from the state, a system which eradicated waiting lists but, detractors say, exploits the poor and vulnerable. Here, we follow one terrible story. More

May 08 - The Japan Times - Japan - Transplant group drafting guidelines for recipients who want to conceive
The Japan Society for Transplantation is understood to be drafting guidelines on how to treat women who want to conceive and give birth while taking medication after transplant surgery — the first move of its kind worldwide. More

May 20 - MD Magazine - FDA Okays Hep-C Investigational Combo for Post-Transplant Patients
Based on favorable results from the ALLY-1 trial, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has amended its breakthrough therapy designation for a hepatitis-C drug combo. The change means that daclatasvir (Daklinza/ Bristol-Myers Squibb) and sofosbuvir (Sovaldi/Gilead ) may now be given to patients who have hepatitis C infections with either advanced cirrhosis or infections that have come back after patients received a liver transplant. More

May 19 - UNOS-Transplant Network Reaches Milestone of 500,000 Deceased Donor Organ Transplants - The US national transplant allocation system developed by United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) has coordinated 500,000 organ transplants from deceased donors in the United States since its beginning in October 1987. More than 250,000 recipients of these transplants are estimated to be surviving. More

May 14 - University of Toronto - 'Hydrogels' boost ability of stem cells to restore eyesight and heal brains
Scientists and engineers have made a breakthrough in cell transplantation using a gel-like biomaterial that keeps cells alive and helps them integrate better into tissue. In two early lab trials, this has already shown to partially reverse blindness and help the brain recover from stroke. More

May 14 - South China Morning Post - The young no longer willing to make sacrifices, says liver transplant pioneer Lo Chung-mau
The trend among young doctors to choose more lucrative and profitable medical subjects rather than those that require them to stomach more hardship. People now seem to care more about what they can take from society rather than what they can give, says liver surgeon Professor Lo Chung-mau. More

May 12 - EurekaAlert - Scientists regenerate bone tissue using only proteins secreted by stem cells
Scientists have discovered a way to regrow bone tissue using the protein signals produced by stem cells. This technology could help treat victims who have experienced major trauma to a limb, like soldiers wounded in combat or casualties of a natural disaster. The new method improves on older therapies by providing a sustainable source for fresh tissue and reducing the risk of tumor formation that can arise with stem cell transplants. More

May 07 - UC-Berkeley - Nancy Scheper-Hughes - Ten days in the Vatican: anti-human-trafficking work, a Golden Bear pin and a kiss
At the Vatican, she joined some 20 other scholars, human rights activists, government and civic leaders and U.N. officials for a plenary meeting on human trafficking, called by Pope Francis as part of his ongoing initiative on the global problem, which the pope calls a “crime against humanity.”The group hammered out a four-page list of draft recommendations that, among other things, would make forced labor a penal offense, and called for the creation of a world anti-trafficking organization. Scheper-Hughes gave two presentations and says her primary contributions came in proposals relating to organ trafficking. One would prohibit “the buying, selling, brokering and implanting of organs and tissues from trafficking persons in all countries.” Another would ask the world’s religions to encourage voluntary and altruistic organ sharing. The recommendations were intended to inform the pope as he plans an address to the U.N. General Assembly in September. More

May 19 - RT-UK - Regrowing the heart: Scars from heart attacks cured with stem cells in pioneering study
UK scientists injected mice with stem cells for 12 weeks and saw damage from heart attacks reversed – preventing heart failure. They believe a similar procedure is possible for humans. “This research is an early, but important, step towards understanding how we might be able to encourage stem cells in failing hearts to repair the damage caused by a heart attack,” said Professor Jeremy Pearson. More

May 14 - Techcrunch - The Genome Engineering Revolution
Over the years, the debate surrounding the ethics of genome engineering research and applications has cultivated a sense of fear that societies depicted in movies like Gattaca, or the book Brave New World, could come to fruition. Although these scenarios seem socially impossible to execute, they were ultimately deemed scientifically far-fetched because the complexity of such tasks requires robust genome engineering skills and tools. These discussions presented the notion that similar situations would begin to be confronted in the “distant” future, but that future is now. On April 22, 2015, the first-ever attempt to genome engineer a living human embryo was published in Protein & Cell, and this attempt was made possible by the newly embraced CRISPR-cas9 system. More

May 19 - RTE - Ireland-Irish-based scientists are to lead a new €8.9m international study aimed at developing natural materials and new surgical devices for the treatment of diabetes.
Researchers at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and the Science Foundation Ireland-funded AMBER materials science centre have come up with a new method. It involves the creation of a new substance containing a combination of pancreatic cells inside a gel that mimics the structure of the pancreas. More