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  Newsletter Issue 8, 28 October 2015




"Opportunities & Challenges in Stem Cell Based Medicine"

17 -18 November 2015

Matrix Building
30 Biopolis Street, Singapore 138671







Media Partner

The Symposium is getting closer!!!




Dear Members, Delegates, Friends, and Supporters,


in Newsletter Issue 8 we introduce 3 of the symposiums' plenary speakers as well as the 2 Industry Themed Talk speakers:

Masayo Takahashi, RIKEN Centre for Developmental Biology, Japan

Jun Takahashi, Kyoto University, Japan

Mohan Vemuri, Thermofisher, USA

Xiangxu Kong, Fluidigm Corporation, USA

Thorsten Decker, Miltenyi Biotec


Symposium Announcements


Deadline Extension:


1) Online registration has been extended to: 6 November


Take this last opportunity to make sure you are part of this exciting symposium before online registration closes in only 9 days.


A tentative programme can be accessed HERE.

To learn more about the symposium, follow this LINK.

To register, click HERE.

Contact us HERE.


Featured Speakers  


RIKEN Centre for Developmental Biology, Japan

Retinal Cell Therapy Using iPS Cells


The first in man application of iPS-derived cells started in September 2014 targeted the retinal disease called age-related macular degeneration (AMD).  The grafted iPS-derived retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cell sheet is survived well and good in color, that means no immune rejection occurred without immune suppression. Her visual acuity is stable, compare to the past history of deterioration even with multiple anti-VEGF injections. Primary endpoint, the safety was achieved at one year point. We evaluated plasmid remnant & gene alteration using WGS, epigenetic characteristics and purity using single cell RT-PCR other than our original quality control (QC). From these experiences, we think we should do both but should distinguish between basic research and regulatory science in order to promote regenerative medicine promptly.

Since autologous transplantation is time consuming and the cost is high, it is necessary for making standard treatment to prepare allogeneic transplantation using HLA three loci homozygous iPS cell lines (iPS cell stocks) as well as autologous transplantation. It is known that RPE cells suppress the activation of T-cells, so that RPE cells appeared most suitable for such kind of allogeneic transplantation. We confirmed in vitro and in vivo that human iPS-derived RPE cells also have such function. It is possible that the rejection is considerably small by using the iPS-RPE cell with matched three loci of HLA.



Biography Webpage PubMed


Masayo Takahashi is Project Leader of the Laboratory for Retinal Regeneration Research at RIKEN. She received her M.D. from Kyoto University in 1986, and her Ph.D. in Medicine at the same institution in 1992. After serving as an assistant professor in the Department of Ophthalmology, Kyoto University Hospital, she moved to the Salk Institute in 1995, where she first learned of the potential of stem cells as a tool for retinal therapy. She returned to the same hospital in 1997, and since 2001 has served as an associate professor at the Translational Research Center. She joined RIKEN as a team leader of the retinal regeneration research team in 2006.

Her team started Pilot clinical study of autologous iPS cell-derived RPE cell sheets for exudative aged-related macular degeneration (AMD) in 2013. The first RPE cell sheet graft transplanted in Sep. 2014. Her clinical specialty is retinal disease—macular diseases and retinal hereditary diseases in particular. Her aim is to gain a better understanding of these diseases at a fundamental level and develop retinal regeneration therapies.





Kyoto University, Japan


Challenges Towards Stem Cell Therapy for Parkinson’s Disease  

Human embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) can provide a promising source of midbrain dopaminergic (DA) neurons for cell replacement therapy for Parkinson’s disease (PD). We have developed a method for 1) scalable DA neuron induction on human laminin fragment and 2) sorting DA progenitor cells using a floor plate marker.

The sorting of DA progenitor cells is favorable in terms of both safety and efficacy of the transplantation, and we have now established a protocol for the clinical application of human iPSCs to treat Parkinson’s disease.

Biography Lab webpage PubMed  

Jun Takahashi is a professor of Center for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA) at Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan. He graduated from Kyoto University Faculty of Medicine in 1986, and started his carrier as a neurosurgeon at Kyoto University Hospital. After he earned his Ph.D. from Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine in 1993, he did a postdoctoral fellowship at the Salk Institute (Dr. Fred Gage’s laboratory, 1995 & 1996), CA, U.S.A., where he started a research work on neural stem cells. After getting back to Kyoto University Hospital, he was engaging functional neurosurgery including deep brain stimulation, and also research works on stem cell therapy using ES/iPS cells for Parkinson’s disease.

He became an associate professor at Institute for Frontier Medical Sciences, Kyoto University in 2007, and in 2012, he moved to CiRA as a full professor pursuing clinical application of a stem cell therapy for Parkinson’s disease patients. As a PI and a physician-scientist, he laid the groundwork for the clinical application of ES/iPS cells by developing effective differentiation of dopaminergic neurons, selective sorting of dopaminergic progenitor cells, and optimization of host brain environment that will make it possible to human ES/iPS cell-derived dopaminergic neurons survive and function in rodent and monkey brains.


What attracted you to a career in Science?

Mystery of the brain.

Which scientist/clinician has made the biggest impact in your field and why?

Dr. Fred Gage at the Salk Institute, CA, U.S.A., who gave me an opportunity to start stem cell research.

What publication(s) had the most influence on you and why?

The first iPS cell paper by Prof. Shinya Yamanaka, which brought me to the field of iPS cells.

Do you believe stem cells will ever be successful commercially?

Yes, but it depends on diseases.

What's the best advice you ever had?

Be brave, hopeful and patient.

What in your opinion will potentially be the next major breakthrough in stem cell research?

Building 3D organ structures in vitro or in vivo; cell sorting technology.

Which scientist/clinician has made the biggest impact in your field and why?

Dr. Fred Gage at the Salk Institute, CA, U.S.A., who gave me an opportunity to start stem cell research.

What publication(s) had the most influence on you and why?

The first iPS cell paper by Prof. Shinya Yamanaka, which brought me to the field of iPS cells.



Thermo Fisher Scientific, USA




GMP Culture Media Development for Therapeutical Stem Cells

Successful cell based therapies are critically dependent on high quality cell culture reagents that are manufactured following Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) and ISO 13485 guidelines.   Stem cell culture reagents are an integral part of the bioprocess technology for production of clinical-grade stem cells to ensure optimal defined quality and safety in cell therapy studies. Large numbers of stem cells with adequate bioprocess control such as safety, sterility, and traceability are required as start-up material to produce fully or partially differentiated cell types for different diseases. The culture of such cells in sufficient numbers required by industry or clinicians is challenging:  stem cells are sensitive to culture conditions, and maintaining them in an undifferentiated state is laborious and tedious.  In addition, options to use different substrates, culture media, and dissociating enzymes must be carefully considered to maintain the reproducibility, quality, and scalability of the culture process.  Cell culture strategies to expand stem cells in particular human MSC, HSC, NSC and T Cells for immunotherapy are presented, with a particular focus on serum free, xeno free and animal origin free GMP systems that are well suited for translational medicine applications.
BiographyLinkedIn PubMed  
Mohan Vemuri is the Director of Research and Development for Cell Biology in Thermo Fisher Scientific. He currently leads R&D in the development of GMP-manufactured stem cell products for research use and cell therapy applications in the areas of human iPSC, adult stem cells and downstream differentiation to cell specific lineages. Prior to this role, Dr .Vemuri was faculty at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and focused on novel ways of fetal transplantation of gene engineered hematopoietic stem cells for blood and bone marrow transplantation (BMT), for enhanced self-renewal, engraftment and immune reconstitution. He worked as faculty at Thomas Jefferson Medical School, and developed cell screening assay systems for Parkinson’s disease drug discovery. Dr .Vemuri collaborates with researchers in academia and industry, striving towards the successful utilization of stem cells in regenerative cell therapies. He holds a Ph.D in Cell Biology and performed his postdoctoral work at the National Institutes for Health.
Industry themed talks  

Xiangxu KONG

Fluidigm Corporation, USA

Understanding Your Biology from Every Single Stem Cell  
Biology is driven by cellular heterogeneity. The complexity of cell types, and the many factors involved in affecting cell fates and functions, require a comprehensive set of tools to fully understand the many processes and pathways, especially in stem cell research. The Callisto system from Fluidigm is an integrated microfluidic platform for automated cell culture and combinatorial dosing of cells. Using this system, in combination with the single cell sample preparation and analysis platforms from Fluidigm, researchers can now conduct highly multiplexed studies on cell differentiation and reprogramming, by accessing the transcript and protein expression dynamics with single cell resolution.
Xiangyu Kong manages Fluidigm’s single-cell biology applications, working closely with customers in Pacific Asia and Latin America, to help build customers’ success in all single-cell research and investigations. Prior to this role, Dr. Kong served as North America and Asia Pacific FAS with GenoLogics Life Sciences Software, where he helped 30+ genomics & proteomics customers successfully implement their LIMS systems. Prior to that, he held Scientific Liaison and Senior Scientist positions at Pacific Biosciences, where he helped developing and bringing single-molecule sequencing technology to the market, and introducing the platform to leading scientists in Asia. He previously held a post-doctoral scientist position at the Institute for Genomics and Proteomics at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Dr. Kong has authored numerous peer-reviewed publications and been issued several US patents. He received his Ph.D. degree in Chemistry and Biophysics from UCLA, and his B.S. degree in Chemistry from Peking University.

Thorsten DECKER

Milteny Biotec, Germany

Towards Clinical Workflows for Generating iPSCs and Functional Derivatives  
Successful translation of research findings into cellular therapies requires standardized processes and timely consideration of clinical requirements. We have developed workflow solutions that enable the standardized preparation of primary fibroblasts, integration-free reprogramming and modulation of PSCs using modified mRNAs. When realizing a cellular therapy, regulatory requirements call for the highest quality reagents such as GMP media, cytokines, and antibodies. In addition, cell product optimization through cell sorting and automated processing plays a pivotal role. Therefore, we explore solutions for an automated, closed-system workflow for iPSC-derived cellular therapy candidates, such as dopaminergic progenitors.
Thorsten Decker studied Biochemistry at the Universities of Tübingen, Germany, and Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He received his PhD from the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP) in Vienna, Austria, working on the transcriptional regulation of early B lymphopoiesis and lineage commitment. Subsequently, he moved to the University of Cologne, Germany, for his postdoctoral training and focused on the role of mitochondrial proteases in neurodegenerative diseases. In 2010, he joined Miltenyi Biotec as a Global Product Manager and has since then been responsible for the company’s reagent portfolio for hematopoietic, mesenchymal and pluripotent stem cells, which encompasses solutions for reprogramming, stem cell culture and differentiation, as well as flow cytometry and molecular analysis.
© 2015 Stem Cell Society Singapore