Human Tissue Sample Blog

Your source for information about acquiring human biospecimens for your research.

5 Benefits to Using Adult Stem Cells in Cancer Research

Posted by Luke Doiron on Oct 21, 2014 6:00:00 AM

While much of the popular media attention over the last 10 years has focused on embryonic stem cells, in fact, the adult stem cell has been shown to be a viable and valuable source in the long fight to better understand cancer's origins and treatment possibilities. Adult stem cells, in brief, are also known as progenitor cells or somatic stem cells. They are found in minute quantities in nearly every human body organ and tissue. Their key function is maintenance and repair of their specific tissues.

There are several important reasons why cancer researchers are increasingly turning to adult stem cells:

1. Adult stem cells carry no ethical concerns.

We've all followed the loud controversy over the use of embryonic stem cell lines for research, and the ethical questions that surround their harvesting from a days-old human embryo. Adult stem cells avoid this ethical dilemma entirely. They can be isolated from a variety of tissue sources, including adult bone marrow, bone marrow mononuclear cells (BMMCs), peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), umbilical cord blood, fresh tissue, and tumor-derived tissue cells.

2. Adult stem cells are unspecialized.

The adult stem cell is an unspecialized cell that is capable of long-term renewal, via cell division over long time periods. These stem cells can also give rise to different cell types, making their utility high for researchers studying the many types of human cancers.

3. Adult stem cells can regenerate malignant cells.

Important cancer research often focuses on the stem cells that can be isolated from a malignant cancerous tumor. Cancer researchers are pursuing the idea that the reason for the failure of current cancer treatments may be due to the fact that such treatments don't destroy the cancer stem cells.  While cancer stem cells total just one to three percent of all tumor cells, these cells are the only ones that can cause regeneration of malignant cells, thus inducing cancer cells to grow.

Researchers at the University of Michigan are actively pursuing this theory for developing better treatments for breast cancer. One key finding utilizing adult stem cells, say UM scientists,  is the fact that, "mutations in genes called HER2 and PTEN triggered rapid cell division and self-renewal in breast cancer stem cells. This caused the stem cells to develop abnormally and invade surrounding breast tissue. When the scientists treated the cells with drugs known to inhibit activity of these genes, the number of cancer stem cells dropped dramatically."

4. Lower rejection rates.

Researchers have long observed that adult stem cells used in noted that adult stem cells don’t present with the same level of immunological rejection challenges as do embryonic stem cells because they are harvested from the same patient, leading to a lower rejection rate. For example, adult stem cells have been used for many years to treat certain cancers via a  bone marrow transplant.

5. Comparing adult and pediatric cancers.

Wilms' Tumor is a common pediatric renal cancer. Cancer researchers in this study set out to compare and contrast the differences in tumor biology that are known to exist between adult and pediatric cancers. They found that there are cancer stem cells in pediatric WTs and believe that these could help in developing targeted cancer therapies for pediatric solid tumors.

May we source high-quality adult stem cells for your cancer research program?

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Topics: adult stem cells, cancer research

6 Things to Know About Seropositive Rheumatoid Arthritis Research

Posted by Luke Doiron on Oct 14, 2014 6:00:00 AM

A chronic autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), is theorized to be caused by some combination of genetics and environmental factors. What the precise molecular trigger is for RA is still under investigation so that better treatments can be developed and diagnosis made earlier, when the disease is more manageable. Early symptoms of RA include joint pain, swelling, and stiffness. As the disease progresses, it can lead to loss of mobility and joint deformity.

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Topics: seropositive rheumatoid arthritis

How are Extracted Nucleic Acids Used for Drug Development?

Posted by Luke Doiron on Oct 9, 2014 6:00:00 AM

Before powerful modern microscopes enabled medical researchers to clearly see and define microscopic organisms such as bacteria and viruses, the earliest microbe hunters used a rudimentary magnifying glass to gain superficial knowledge about the tiny world of microbes. Today, we can plausibly compare advancements in molecular medicine to that journey from a simple magnifying lens to a modern microscope.

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Topics: drug development

5 Frequently Asked Questions About Adult Stem Cell Research

Posted by Luke Doiron on Oct 7, 2014 6:00:00 AM

Stem cells are often referred to in the sociopolitical realm with some level of controversy and beyond that, some level of confusion. Many researchers are unaware of the basic scientific definitions of various types of stem cells and their medical therapeutic potential applications. In order to have a better understanding of the adult stem cell, here are five frequently asked questions (FAQs) about adult stem cell research:

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Topics: adult stem cells

What Lab Tests Are Used for Lupus Research?

Posted by Luke Doiron on Oct 2, 2014 6:00:00 AM

A definitive diagnosis of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) can be a lengthy and difficult process. One reason is that SLE symptoms can vary significantly from patient to patient; additionally, SLE sufferers experience periods of flare ups and remissions and so lab tests may not provide a clear diagnosis for those who are in a remission stage during testing. Making matters more complicated, in its early stages, lupus can look like a number of other diseases.

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Topics: Lupus Research

What New Biomarkers Have Been Found for Lupus Research?

Posted by Luke Doiron on Sep 30, 2014 6:00:00 AM

Like clues at a crime scene, biomarkers help researchers find molecular evidence to explain why and how diseases originate and progress. As early disease predictors, biomarkers are increasingly important in understanding lupus. As William Paul, MD, chair of the Lupus Research Institute Scientific Board explains,  "Biomarkers can take the guesswork out of treating lupus and help in creating a meaningful plan of action tailored to each person. They can also speed the development and approval of more effective and less toxic drugs."

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Topics: Lupus Research

The Importance of FFPE Tissue in Oncology Research

Posted by Luke Doiron on Sep 25, 2014 6:00:00 AM

The goal of most cancer research is centered upon identifying and understanding the molecular and cellular makeup of cancer cells as well as unlocking the reasons why and how these cells behave differently from normal human cells. High-quality human biospecimens are an irreplaceable and integral part of this effort, which means that to advance knowledge in cancer medicine, there is a great need for highly-annotated, well-sourced biospecimens. This can be a challenge, however. Sometimes it's hard to find enough fresh tissue specimens for extensive research protocols. This is why more researchers have turned to the vast libraries of archival Formalin-Fixed Paraffin-Embedded (FFPE) tissues for their oncology research.

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Topics: Oncology Research, FFPE tissue

4 Methods for Extracting DNA from FFPE Tissue Samples

Posted by Luke Doiron on Sep 23, 2014 6:00:00 AM

Tissues stored for long time periods are typically fixed with formalin to preserve the tissue’s protein structure and then embedded in paraffin wax so that the tissue can be readily prepared in thin slices. This technique, known as formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE), has been invaluable for providing well-annotated biospecimens for large-scale drug discovery and biotech research.  This is because, for many research protocols, there is often a lack of adequate numbers of fresh tissue samples for projects such as cancer biomarker research.

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Topics: FFPE tissue samples

How to Extract Nucleic Acids from FFPE Tissue Samples

Posted by Luke Doiron on Sep 18, 2014 6:00:00 AM

About a century ago, an excellent method of preserving tissue samples was developed. That technique, known as Formalin-Fixed, Paraffin-Embedded (FFPE) tissue, was a step forward for biospecimen research. However, FFPE was developed primarily for histological applications. Today, there is great interest in using FFPE biospecimens for molecular biological research.

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Topics: FFPE tissue

Can You Isolate RNA from Your FFPE Tissue Samples?

Posted by Luke Doiron on Sep 12, 2014 6:00:00 AM

Today, millions of formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissue specimens are archived worldwide, along with valuable annotation data that aids current researchers seeking better understanding and treatments for serious diseases that still resist a permanent cure. In fact, high-quality FFPE tissues are critical to successful biomedical research.  However, while FFPE biospecimens are good sources for certain analyses, they do have limitations. The process of fixing the biospecimen, then embedding it in paraffin causes a cross-linkage between nucleic acids and proteins, which makes it difficult to use for research requiring tissue RNA. Happily, there are a variety of methods today that can extract viable RNA for a number of important in vitro studies.

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Topics: FFPE tissue