Tuesday, July 14, 2009

World Stem Cell Summit Coming to Baltimore

World Stem Cell Summit to be held in Baltimore
Baltimore Convention Center September 21-23, 2009

This summit will attract more than 1,200 experts from more than 25 countries and across the United States. It will feature more than 100 speakers, including governors, federal officials, and top researchers and scientists and will discuss new federal stem cell policies, scientific breakthroughs, and human-interest stories. This is your chance to meet and talk to all the experts at one location and time with on-the-record sessions, press briefings and interviews.

The World Stem Cell Summit is the only conference that combines this mix of researchers, policy makers, business leaders, ethicists, legal experts and patient-advocates to share, explore, and discuss the latest breakthroughs and advancements in the emerging field of stem cells.

Demonstrations and discussions will range from tracking how reprogrammed stem cells (iPSCs) compare to embryonic stem cells, the prospects for the emerging regenerative medicine industry, the impact of new Federal guidelines, regenerative medicine for wounded soldiers and civilians, medical tourism issues and how new devices such as a stem cell integrated fluidic circuits might soon automate and simplify the entire process.

Follow the latest on the conference arrangements on the web site and Twitter site. Story possibilities will be posted by participating universities and agencies on the conference news blog.

Conference web site: http://www.worldstemcellsummit.com
Conference Twitter site: http://twitter.com/wscs2009
Conference news blog: http://worldstemcellsummit.blogspot.com

Conference media contacts:
Alan Fernandez - alan@genpol.org
Howard High - howard.high@fluidigm.com
650-266-6081 (office)
510-786-7378 (mobile)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Federal stem cell policies to be discussed

Federal stem cell policies will be extensively discussed at the World Stem Cell Summit in Baltimore in September. This is the report from AP reporter Lauran Neergaard on the President Obama's policy change July 6:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The government issued final rules Monday expanding taxpayer-funded research using embryonic stem cells, easing scientists' fears that some of the oldest batches might not qualify and promising a master list of all that do.
President Barack Obama lifted previous restrictions on the field in March, but left it to the National Institutes of Health to decide just what stem cell research was ethically appropriate: Only science that uses cells culled from leftover fertility clinic embryos — ones that otherwise would be thrown away — the agency made clear in draft guidelines.
But the final rules issued Monday settle a big question: Would new ethics requirements disqualify many of the stem cells created over the past decade, even the few funded under the Bush administration's tight limits?
The NIH came up with a compromise, saying it deems those old stem cell lines eligible for government research dollars if scientists can prove they met the spirit of the new ethics standards. Further, NIH will create a registry of qualified stem cells so scientists don't have to second-guess if they're applying to use the right ones.
"We think this is a reasonable compromise to achieve the president's goal of both advancing science while maintaining rigorous ethical standards," acting NIH Director Raynard Kington said Monday. "We believe that judgment is necessary."
He wouldn't speculate on how many old stem cells ultimately would qualify, but scientists welcomed the change.
"I expect that most existing lines will be found to have been ethically derived," said Dr. Sean Morrison, director of the University of Michigan Center for Stem Cell Biology. "This will eventually make hundreds of new stem cell lines available for use."
The issue: Trying to harness embryonic stem cells — master cells that can morph into any cell of the body — to one day create better treatments, maybe even cures, for ailments ranging from diabetes to Parkinson's to spinal cord injury.
Culling those stem cells destroys a days-old embryo, something many strongly oppose on moral grounds. Once created, those cells can propagate indefinitely in lab dishes.
The Bush administration had limited taxpayer-funded research to a small number of stem cell batches, or lines, already in existence as of August 2001. This spring, Obama lifted that restriction, potentially widening the field — there now may be as many as 700 stem cell lines around the world — but letting NIH set its boundaries.
Federal law forbids using taxpayer money to create or destroy an embryo. At issue here are rules for working with cells that initially were created using private money.
NIH sifted through 49,000 comments from the public in finalizing the rules, which take effect Tuesday. The draft changed little: Stem cells created solely for research in whatever manner, including cloning, won't qualify.
Any newly made stem cells must come with documentation that the woman or couple who donated the original embryo gave full informed consent. For example, they must have been told of other options for leftover embryos, such as donating to another infertile woman, and the donation must have been voluntary.
That kind of documentation may not exist for stem cell lines created years ago, Kington said, but "some and perhaps many of those lines might be eligible" on a case-by-case evaluation.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Josh Basile's story: Determined2Heal

One of the human interest stories at the World Stem Cell Summit will be Josh Basile, a student at the University of Maryland, College Park campus. This story is from his web site: www.determined2heal.org:

Josh Basile grew up in Potomac, Maryland and graduated from the Bullis School in 2003. He loved all sports, especially tennis. Josh played number one singles for the Bullis Varsity team and was recruited to play tennis at Skidmore College. After his freshman year at Skidmore he went on his annual summer family vacation to Bethany Beach in August 2004.

Josh was standing in waist high water when he turned his back to the ocean. A single wave picked him up and slammed him head first against the ocean floor, shattering his fifth cervical vertebrae, leaving him paralyzed from the shoulders down. He was told that he would never get off the ventilator that was keeping him alive.

After a month at the Baltimore Shock Trauma unit, Josh’s health improved enough for him to be transferred to the National Rehabilitation Hospital. He continued to improve and was released from the NRH in November. Josh went to outpatient therapy at NRH and enrolled in a college poetry course. Being home gave Josh the opportunity to look back on his experiences and helped him realize that his life would be “different, but not ruined.”

There were a number of lessons that Josh learned during the difficult first months of his recovery. He realized that things could always be worse, that hope was keeping him alive, and that nothing is impossible. He also learned that there is much that he can do to help others.
Josh has been giving speeches around the country and at local schools educating beachgoers about beach safety.

He formed a foundation called Determined2Heal which helps newly injured patients make the transition from normal life into paralysis. Determined2Heal also supports research and rehabilitation for Spinal Cord Injury. Josh is developing another foundation called Adventurers on Wheels. He is planning to take paralyzed children on adventures to get them out of the house and show them that there is still a lot of life to be lived.

Josh participated in intensive restorative therapy at the Kennedy Krieger International Center for Spinal Cord Injury under the care of Dr. McDonald and Dr. Sadowsky and a whole team of remarkable therapists. Josh dedicates four to five hours a day to his therapy program that was developed at Kennedy Krieger. Almost a year after his accident, Josh was able to transition from a complete to an incomplete spinal cord injury.

Since Josh’s August 1, 2004 spinal cord injury, he has been a man with a plan. He has been able to battle through adversity and has been able to come out on top.

Media specialists who are helping (so far)

This is a group effort. Many media specialists are helping already:
  • Shaun Adamec, Gov. O'Malley press secy - 410-260-3833
  • Dan Gincel, Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund 410-715-4172
  • Mike Lurie, University System of Maryland 301-445-2719
  • Audrey M. Huang, Johns Hopkins University Medicine 410-614-5105
  • Karen Buckelew, UM School of Medicine 410-706-7590
  • Karen Shaffer (MGH), Maryland Stem Cell Commission 410-902-5053
  • Karen Glenn Hood, Md DBED, 410-767-6318
  • Jeff Raymond, University of Maryland, Baltimore 410-706-3803
  • Steve Berberich, University of Maryland, Baltimore 410-706-0023

2009 World Stem Cell Summit - News Media

This is a simple blog for media specialists and news reporters who are interested in the 2009 World Stem Cell Summit to exchange information and discuss media requests. The Summit will be held September 21-23 at the Baltimore Convention Center and will provide stories about:
  • New research findings
  • New government stem cell policy
  • Human interest stories
  • Public education at the Maryland Science Center
  • Economic impact on the city, state, and country