Boost for stem cell research at GOSH

21 Nov 2017, 11:30 a.m.

Researcher Elisa Cuevas in the iPSC facility at GOSH/ICH

A state-of-the-art stem cell research facility is now open at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), increasing our capacity for cutting edge research into regenerative medicine.

Stem cells have the potential to develop into any type of cell in the human body and therefore hold great promise for regenerative medicine. They are increasingly used to help understand diseases, and to develop new personalised therapies.

GOSH’s new stem cell research facility, which is located in the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health (ICH), specialises in induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) - a type of stem cell that can be created from other tissues, including blood and skin samples donated by patients. The advantage of iPSCs is that there is a lower risk of rejection when the cells are transferred into the patient.

The facility was funded by Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity, and its running is supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) GOSH Biomedical Research Centre (BRC). The cutting-edge laboratory consists of sterile facilities and specialised equipment to grow and investigate stem cells. Projects already underway range from studies of childhood conditions affecting the muscle and liver, to the brain and the eyes. To celebrate the opening of the facility, the first iPSC Symposium was held in November where more than 140 researchers came to share their pioneering work on stem cells. Professor Jane Sowden, who set up the facility, said:

“The new laboratory will allow us to expand our research into stem cells for regenerative medicine, grow new tissues for transplantation and help us better understand how childhood diseases progress, paving the way for the development of new treatments to slow or stop complex childhood conditions.”

Using stem cells to restore vision

Dr Elisa Cuevas and Professor Jane Sowden are using the new facility to grow stem cells which differentiate into retinal tissue – a layer of cells at the back of the eye essential for vision. Their goal is to develop light-sensitive photoreceptor cells so they can be transplanted into eyes of children with degenerative conditions such as Usher syndrome, to help improve their vision.

More information

Find out more about regenerative medicine research taking place as part of the NIHR GOSH BRC’s Advanced Treatments for Structural Malformations and Tissue Damage research theme.

To learn more about stem cells watch this film created by GOSH Charity.

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