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Orthopedic and Dental Industry News Complete Archive »

UCLA Scientists Receive $5.4M Grant for Stem Cell Research BY LAUREN UZDIENSKI, NOVEMBER 3, 2010

California's state stem cell agency awarded a $5.4 million grant to UCLA orthopedic surgery professors Dr. Bruno Peault and Dr. Chia Soo, who will conduct their research at UCLA's Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research. Drs. Peault and Soo will use the funds to form and regenerate bone from adipose-derived stem cells. The tissue could stand in for autologous or donor bone graft, and potential applications for this technology could include spine fusion, bone fractures, herniated discs and osteoporosis.

Drs. Peault and Soo say they have a novel approach to utilizing antibodies and cell sorting to isolate "more purified" stem cell populations. The researchers are looking specifically at perivascular stem cells (cells found around the blood vessels), which would then be combined with the growth factor NELL-1 to form bone. The adipose tissue would be autologous, avoiding a risk of rejection, and come from a liposuction procedure. Traditionally, adipose-derived stem cells require a lengthy period of culturing, but the researchers intend the study to show that rapidly-isolated perivascular cells can "form bone better than conventional, culture-derived fat stem cells."

Adipose tissue is known as a rich source of stem cells, and Cytori Therapeutics is one company developing fat-derived cells in the commercial space. The company does not yet have a product targeting orthopedic applications; Cytori's Celution system is furthest along in the plastic surgery setting, with the system launched in Europe and Asia Pacific. Like Cytori, the UCLA research targets point-of-care extraction and re-delivery, which would enable a physician to re-implant the cells immediately, without a lengthy culturing process. However, the UCLA scientists appear to be focusing on a slightly narrower cell population: Drs. Peault and Soo are looking only at perivascular cells, which are a subpopulation of the stromal vascular fraction cells that are processed by the Cytori system.

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