Adult & Umbilical Cord Stem Cell Research (Ethical)

Human Umbilical Cord Blood Stem Cells Form Bone, Nerve, Heart Cells (ViaCell, 7/04)

Novel Unrestricted Somatic Stem Cells (USSCs) offer potential medical breakthrough — ViaCell, Inc., a cellular therapy company dedicated to enabling the widespread application of human cells as medicine, and the Int’l NETCORD Fdn, the leading international network of public umbilical cord blood banks, announced the publication of a peer-reviewed article in The Journal of Experimental Medicine (JEM). 

For the first time, using novel cells found in human umbilical cord blood, researchers have shown the ability to grow bone, cartilage, hematopoietic (blood), neural, liver and heart tissue in in vivo studies

The article is entitled, “A new human somatic stem cell from placental cord blood with intrinsic pluripotent differentiation potential”, 19July 2004 issue, vol. 200, no. 2, of JEM.

Dr. Peter Wernet, the President of NETCORD, commented, “To our knowledge, we are the first group to demonstrate that neonatal somatic stem cells [i.e., stem cells from newborn babies] can be robustly expanded in vitro under pharmaceutical conditions to very large numbers and can differentiate, in vivo, into a number of tissue types and take on the properties and specific functions of the cells in those tissues.”  This discovery was made by Dr. Wernet, Dr. G. Koegler and scientists at ViaCell.

This article describes the isolation and expansion of ViaCell’s proprietary USSC from human umbilical cord blood.  This cell type can be expanded in number under culture conditions published in the article.  The USSC has demonstrated a capacity to turn into several different cell types in vivo, including brain, bone, cartilage, liver, heart, and blood cells. 

Previous experimental and clinical work has demonstrated the presence of blood-forming (hematopoietic) stem cells in cord blood. 

While USSC therapies in humans have not been demonstrated, ViaCell believes that USSCs found in cord blood are capable of reconstituting multiple other organ systems, including brain, bone, cartilage, liver, and heart.  This scientific work was performed by the University of Duesseldorf in a collaborative relationship with ViaCell’s German subsidiary and was supported financially by the state of North Rhine, Westfalia.

Dr. Brent Davidson, division head of obstetrics and gynecology at the Henry Ford Health System, commented that “thousands of families have banked stem cells from umbilical cord blood in the United States. While considerably more work is required, I believe that the demonstration that these cells using the non-controversial umbilical cord blood stem cell are able to differentiate into a broad range of tissues could prove to be a significant scientific advance.  I am particularly encouraged that the results provide a proof of principle for use in many common illnesses possibly affecting a large portion of the population. “

The executive director of the Fertility Research Foundation and clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at New York University’s School of Medicine commented “The data demonstrating that umbilical cord blood contains stem cells capable of reconstituting multiple organ systems like the brain, bone, cartilage, liver and heart validate the importance of recommending the option of cord blood preservation to all of our patients. This data makes it clear that cord blood stem cells have the potential to treat diseases that impact nearly every family.”

About NETCORD
The NETCORD Foundation is a network of non-profit public cord blood banks in the U.S.A., Europe, Israel, Japan, and Australia, which have already provided thousands of cord blood stem cell grafts for patients worldwide.  NETCORD has established specific quality standards in collaboration with the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT) in North America on the collection, cryopreservation, storage, and release of cord blood units.

To assist transplant centers in direct searches of compatible cord blood units, NETCORD has established an on-line search and allocation program, the Virtual Office (VO).  This program allows real-time searches of compatible and available units, facilitating the rapid identification of the best possible cord blood transplant for any given patient worldwide.  More Information on NETCORD can be accessed at http://www.NETCORD.org

About ViaCell
ViaCell, Inc. http://www.viacellinc.com is a clinical-stage biotechnology company dedicated to enabling the widespread application of human cells as medicine. 

The Company is developing a pipeline of proprietary product candidates intended to address cancer, certain genetic and cardiac diseases and infertility. 

ViaCell’s portfolio of proprietary technologies include Selective Amplification technology and the USSC. The Company’s lead stem cell therapy product candidate, a cord blood-derived stem cell therapeutic, CB001, is currently in a Phase I clinical trial.  ViaCell offers expecting families the option of preserving their baby’s cord blood stem cells through its Viacord business http://www.viacord.com.

This press release contains statements that have forward-looking implications, including statements regarding: the potential for medical developments that will ultimately permit the expanded therapeutic uses of stored cord blood, such as the potential of USSCs to reconstitute organ systems in humans and to have an impact on a variety of human diseases. 

These statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected in these forward-looking statements.  These risks and uncertainties include, among others, the risk that ViaCell is unable to obtain the regulatory approvals necessary to conduct clinical trials with USSCs or other technologies or to continue current clinical trials of CB001; that human clinical studies in USSCs, if they occur, will not validate these projections; and that ViaCell is unable to obtain required regulatory approvals to commercialize these product candidates.  We caution you not to place undue reliance on the forward-looking statements contained in this press release. 

The results from the study are promising, but preliminary.  The risk of failure in, and the cost of, developing human therapeutic products are extremely high. These statements speak only as of the date of this release, and we undertake no obligation to update or revise the statements.[Boston, July 19, 2004, Corporate Contact: Marc Beer, ViaCell, Inc. 800-766-0966]