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UC Davis Stem Cell Program

UC Davis Stem Cell Program

Current Collaborations and Activities

The number of stem cell-related efforts at UC Davis continues to grow. This is a sampling of the work currently underway:

  • Ophthalmology/Dermatology – Studying human cells migrating from the bloodstream into retinal pigment epithelial layer in the retina after damage, and to identify stem cells to replace corneas in the human eye.
  • Biomedical Engineering – Engineering “replacement tissues” created from stem cells seeded onto a scaffold or matrix. Development and application of new imaging technologies that can aid in the study of cell trafficking of transplanted stem cells.
  • Oncology – Research efforts in combinatorial chemistry are proving extremely useful in the field of stem cell biology and to identify novel molecules that cause self renewal of human adult or embryonic stem cells, and enhanced homing. This technology is also used to identify novel markers on tumor stem cells, the cause of relapse after chemotherapy. This will allow targeting of the "heart" of the tumor to prevent regrowth.
  • Pediatric Stem/Progenitor Cell Translational Research – Studying the use of embryonic, fetal, and infant stem and progenitor cells for transplantation and tissue repair.
  • Internal Medicine/Urology – Research in bladder reconstruction with newly grown bladder cells.
  • Pediatric Regenerative Medicine – Research focused on spinal cord dysfunction, orthopedic disorders and burn injuries.
  • Internal Medicine – Studies of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation for metastatic renal cell carcinoma and peripheral blood stem cell transplantation for Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and other malignancies.
  • Cell Biology – Comparisons of adult vs. embryonic stem cell transplantation as a novel therapy for post-infarct left ventricular remodeling and revascularization.
  • Biophotonics – Collaborations between stem cell researchers and the Center for Biophotonics Science and Technology to characterize novel markers on stem cells for tissue repair using Raman and CARS spectroscopy. Biophotonics is the study of intrinsic properties of the cells by examining the light and vibrational frequency that each cell emits, using highly specialized lasers.
  • Internal Medicine/Bone Marrow Transplantation – Adult and pediatric transplantation to restore the blood-forming system. A trial is pending to give life-saving booster transplants of allogeneic CD34+ cells for marginally engrafted patients after bone marrow transplantation.
  • Pathology and Internal Medicine/Bone Marrow Transplantation – A cord blood bank is in the process of being developed, to preserve stem cells from cord blood throughout Northern and Central California. These stem cells can be used in transplantation and in tissue repair applications in the future.
  • Veterinary Medicine – Equine cord blood and mesenchymal stem cells to repair soft tissue and tendon injuries in horses, and anti-tumor immunotherapeutic strategies to treat dogs with cancer.
  • Otolaryngology – Research into the use of stem cells as a therapy for deafness and the regeneration of hair cells in the inner ear.
  • UC Davis is also collaborating with UC Merced and the Buck Institute to perform translational research and to share regulatory committees.

Industry Partners

Formal Collaborative Agreement

  • The California company Thermogenesis, which is interested in separation and cryopreservation of different types of stem cells, signed a collaborative research agreement with UC Davis in 2007 to work with on therapies that can heal and revascularize skin ulcers.

Tentative agreements

  • UC Davis has developed a plan with a company working toward novel therapies for peripheral vascular disease using purified stem cells.
  • UC Davis has an agreement with a manufacturing firm that has developed a clinical cell separation device used for that purification of stem cells that could be used to treat a wide array of diseases, including heart attacks.

Recent Program Activities

Since returning to UC Davis as director of the Stem Cell Program, Nolta and her team have been busy expanding the program, enhancing ongoing research and preparing for additional stem cell investigations. That work has included the following activities:

  • Purchased a high-speed cell sorter (influx sorter) to be shared as a core resource on the Sacramento campus.
  • Purchased and installed vivarium equipment for immune deficient mouse models.
  • Established an immune deficient mouse core to allow investigators to study human stem cells in a small animal model.
  • Assisted with developing "IND-enabling studies" and translational research models required by the FDA for cellular therapy trials.
  • Assembled disease and tissue specific focus groups to foster interactions between basic and translational researchers and clinical faculty.
  • Initiated additional campus collaborations with industry partners, with assistance through the CTSC and the Office of Research's Innovation Access program.