Scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have been awarded a $2.6 million grant from the office of the director of the National Institutes of Health to produce specialized stems cells.

Donald Phinney, a TSRI professor, will be the principal investigator for the new four-year project. His work involves mesenchymal stem cells, which are currently being evaluated in more than 180 open clinical trials. 

The mesenchymal stem cells produced by Phinney and his colleagues offer research results that are closer to what is expected from clinical trials. “Current processes make it difficult to produce large numbers of these cells,” Phinney said. “Our methods make it much easier to produce mouse mesenchymal stem cells—with just a few mice we can generate tens of millions of these cells.”

The group expects to take requests for available cell lines and those generated from specific types of mice. Additional goals of the project are to better understand specific properties of mesenchymal stem cells and regulatory pathways that may affect therapeutic potency. This new knowledge will be used to help predict the behavior of human cells through animal models.

“While mesenchymal stem cells are being used in a number of clinical trials, there is a tremendous lack of knowledge about their function and potency,” said Phinney. “These new studies will provide essential pre-clinical knowledge about this type of stem cell that will help in the development of future clinical therapies.”

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