International Stem Cell Corp. (ISCO) Targets a Range of Diseases
International Stem Cell has developed a way to derive high quality stem cells without the need for fertilized embryos. Called parthenogenesis, the new process is seen as a source for stem cells that could treat a number of degenerative diseases, including diabetes, liver disease, retinal degeneration, spinal traumas, and other central nervous system injuries.
• Age related macular degeneration is one of the leading causes of blindness. Fully one third of all Americans over the age of 50 are considered at risk of developing the disease. Retinal cell transplantation has been shown to benefit patients and may become a key medical application of stem cells. Current retinal cell transplantation faces a lack of sufficient cells as well as immune rejection by the patient. The use of parthenogenetic stem cells (hpSC) represents a potential solution to both of these problems, and ISCO is working with leading research companies, scientists, and physicians to further increase production levels of the cells suitable for therapeutic use.
• Diabetes has become a major health care problem worldwide, with approximately 15% of healthcare dollars spent in the U.S. going toward the treatment of diabetes and related complications. Nearly 17 million Americans, over 6% of the population, currently have diabetes. Islets are a type of cell found in the pancreas which include beta cells that make insulin. Islet transplantation has been shown to be effective in helping diabetics, but is hampered by a lack of sufficient islets and by immune rejection. ISCO is working with Novocell, the world leader in the technology of deriving islet cells from stem cells, to produce islet cells from ISCO’s parthenogenetic stem cells.
• Chronic liver disease, including hepatitis C, is a common cause of death for people in the 34 to 64 age group, with annual health care costs approaching $100 billion in the U.S. The transplantation of hepatocytes, cells of the main tissue of the liver, can help treat those with the disease, but cell demand far exceeds supply. Derivation of hepatocyte cells from hpSC can be conducted concurrently with the derivation islet cells, and ISCO’s scientists are developing their own differentiation protocol based on existing technologies.
• ISCO scientists are also focused on deriving neural stem cells (NSC). These cells should be a pure population of the same cell type in order to avoid transformation into other cellular types. The use of NSC in regenerative therapy may provide a potential treatment for such neurodegenerative diseases as Alzheimer disease, Parkinsonism, and ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis).
For additional information, visit the company’s website at www.InternationalStemCell.com