Submitted by Bedford Research Foundation
Senator Mike Barrett, Representative Ken Gordon and BRF Director Dr. Ann Kiessling cut the ribbon for the official opening of stem cell research in Bedford.
“I’m proud and excited to have such ground breaking research in our town,” declared Senator Barrett. “Bedford Research scientists are developing stem cells from eggs, not from embryos, thus bypassing many of the ethical dilemmas associated with stem cell research.”
“Dr. Kiessling and her staff have shown their determination to tackle some of the most difficult health problems of our day and it is exciting that their work will now continue in Bedford,” said Representative Ken Gordon, “Welcome!”
Each of the research projects were represented by demonstrations and posters.
BRF scientists are currently deriving new lines of stem cells from mouse eggs as a model system. One poster by Maureen Kearnan explained it takes about 19 days for an egg activated artificially, without sperm (parthenogenesis), to turn into a million stem cells.
Dr. Joel Lawitts, lab director at Beth Isreal Deaconess Medical Center, demonstrated microinjection of mouse eggs, part of the project to develop stem cells resistant to infection by HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Approximately 1% of the human population is naturally resistant to HIV infection because their cells lack a protein receptor necessary for the virus to gain entry. A new method to “knock out” that protein in eggs at the time they are activated could lead to new stem cells resistant to HIV.
BRF scientists discovered a few years ago that circadian rhythms may be important to stem cell development. Dr. Fred Davis, Professor of Biology, Northeastern University, described circadian rhythms and assisted open house attendees in determining their “chromo-type” — morning person? or night person?
A few years ago, BRF scientists discovered a new approach for screening semen specimens for diseases of the prostate, including infection (“prostatitis”) and cancer. Two posters described these on-going studies, and a sign-up sheet were provided for men interested in more information about the studies. Inquiries may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org
Twenty years ago, BRF scientists developed testing methods for HIV in semen that have been used to assist HIV-infected men safely have children without passing the virus on to mothers or babies. Known as the Special Program of Assisted Reproduction (SPAR), more than 200 babies have been born world-wide, all negative for infection, as described by BRF SPAR coordinator, Alexis Agnew.
An independent, not-for-profit research facility, Bedford Research projects are entirely dependent on philanthropy because the Wicker amendment to the budget of the National Institutes of Health prevents federal funding for research on human parthenote stem cells. Fee-for-service testing helps cover costs of rent and overhead, which allows all research donations to be applied directly to the research projects. A list of current research funding needs can be found at www.bedfordresearch.org