Stem Cell Biology & Regenerative Medicine
Gladstone uses game-changing stem cell biology to advance our mission to better understand, prevent, treat and ultimately cure some of the world’s most relentless diseases. Building on current stem cell research, our scientists envision a world in which:
- a heart attack patient gets an injection of genetic or chemical factors that reprogram cardiac scar tissue directly into beating heart cells—avoiding the need for a heart transplant or some other form of open-heart surgery;
- a patient with Alzheimer’s disease takes a pill that instructs the patient’s brain to repair or replace injured neurons, thus avoiding the cognitive decline that comes with the condition; and
- stem cells are used to create a human immune system in the laboratory, where it is used to test a vaccine that prevents HIV/AIDS.
Gladstone investigators are leading the charge in many of these areas. Shinya Yamanaka, MD, PhD is the scientist who in 2006 discovered how to reprogram skin cells into stem cells that, like embryonic stem cells, can develop into other cell types in the body. This discovery of induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells, has since fundamentally transformed the fields of developmental biology and stem cell research—opening promising new prospects for both personalized and regenerative medicine.
Stem cell biomedicine has advanced rapidly since that time. Thanks to iPS cell technology and ensuing cell-reprogramming discoveries, scientists can now create human stem cells from the skin cells of patients with a specific disease—for research and drug discovery purposes. Such iPS cells contain a complete set of the genes that resulted in that disease and may turn out to be superior to conventional models made in yeast, flies or mice. The use of iPS cells may also eventually reduce the need for controversial embryonic stem cell research.