Scientists conducting stem cell research are convening at symposia in mid-September in Connecticut and New Jersey to share best practices, drive standardization to advance science, and enable greater collaboration. By teaming with Connecticut United for Research Excellence (CURE), Rutgers Stem Cell Research Center and the New Jersey Commission on Science and Technology, Applied Biosystems (NYSE:ABI) today announced that it will hold the first Connecticut Stem Cell Technology Symposium, and second annual New Jersey Stem Cell Research Symposium later this month.
Stem cells offer great potential to develop new therapies for complex disorders, such as cancer, diabetes, spinal cord injury, and neurodegenerative diseases, such as ParkinsonÂ™s disease. However, the underlying cellular mechanisms which govern the self renewal or differentiation of stem cells are quite complex and require precise and direct measurement of specific molecular targets. These research challenges are driving a convergence of classical cellular techniques and molecular tools to better monitor embryonic and tissue-specific stem cells by developmental stages or disease states. Because it is a relatively new field, many of the researchers studying stem cells, such as cell biologists and embryologists, may be new to the molecular biology methods required to help them most effectively study complex biological processes in stem cells.
The symposia were created to expose a diverse set of scientists to the application of molecular methods, such as gene expression analysis, gene knockdown, and genotyping using technologies such as real-time PCR and genomic analysis sequencing. Researchers will share recent discoveries from the application of these methods and discuss means to establish guidelines for deriving, maintaining and characterizing embryonic and tissue specific stem cells to achieve more reproducible results and greater study replication.
The importance of stem cell research cannot be overstated: it is a powerful and new means to understand and treat disease, said Paul R. Pescatello, JD and PhD, president and chief executive officer, CURE. In the field of stem cell research and development, only a few regions – Connecticut is one of them – have brought together cutting edge academic research and industry development expertise. Providing researchers, policy makers and the public a forum to learn how stem cell research is progressing is critical to the translation of this research into clinical therapies.
Topics that will be addressed at the symposia include the derivation and characterization of embryonic stem cells with genomic techniques, monitoring stem cell differentiation by gene expression analysis, exploring gene regulation by microRNAs and pathogen detection for safety and efficacy of stem cell lines.
Ron Hart, PhD, associate director and member of both the Rutgers Stem Cell Research Center and the W.M. Keck Center for Collaborative Neuroscience, is a leading expert in functional genomics technologies in the central nervous system and stem cells. Dr. Hart is currently using the SOLiDÂ„ System, Applied BiosystemsÂ™ ultra-high-throughput genomic analysis platform, to sequence small RNA libraries to identify potential novel microRNAs in human embryonic stem cells and their neural stem cell derivatives.
Since microRNAs are known to be required for both stem cell pluripotency and differentiation, researchers at Rutgers believe that unique populations of microRNAs that have not been observed in adult cells participate in the control of stem cell differentiation. By using the SOLiD System to obtain more than 50 million reads per sample, which is deeper sequence data than has been previously available, researchers are finding hundreds of candidate microRNAs. These will be validated biochemically and by comparison with chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) sequencing datasets. The overall goal is to screen both known and novel microRNAs to find practical reagents for promoting specific differentiation pathways in human stem cells.
As stem cells have begun to fulfill their promise as therapies, the application of molecular and genomic techniques accelerates results, said Dr. Hart. In many cases, researchers studying stem cells were unaware of the powerful next-generation genomic analysis technologies available. IÂ™m very excited about how quickly stem cells can be validated, tested for genomic stability, and assayed for differentiation status using easily-adapted methods, and IÂ™m hopeful that because of this synergy, human stem cells will quickly transition from laboratories to clinical trials to people.
As a global leader in life science technologies, Applied Biosystems has been working with the scientific community to develop new applications and technologies to enable stem cell identification and characterization, pathogen screening, expression profiling, single cell analysis, and functional analysis.
By collaborating with thought leaders in stem cell research, weÂ™ve been able to design strategic venues for scientists conducting important stem cell research that may revolutionize the practice of medicine, said Peter Dansky, president for Applied BiosystemsÂ™ functional analysis division. Our continuing innovation in molecular biology technologies should enable our customers to advance and accelerate their stem cell research.
The Connecticut Stem Cell Symposium will take place on Wednesday, September 17, 2008 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Farmington Marriott in Farmington, Connecticut. The agenda will include scientific presentations and poster session from leading stem cell researchers at the University of Connecticut, Yale University, Wesleyan University and local pharmaceutical/biotechnology companies.
The New Jersey Stem Cell Symposium will take place from Thursday, September 18 through Friday, September 19, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day at the Bridgewater Marriott in Bridgewater, NJ. The agenda includes scientific presentations and poster sessions from leading stem cell researchers at the Rutgers University, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), Princeton University, and pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.
More information about the Connecticut and New Jersey Stem Cell symposia can be found at the following web sites: http://info.appliedbiosystems.com/cscts2008 and http://info.appliedbiosystems.com/njcsts2008
About Applied Biosystems Inc.
Applied Biosystems Inc. (formerly known as Applera Corporation) is a global leader in the development and marketing of instrument-based systems, consumables, software, and services for academic research, the life science industry and commercial markets. Driven by its employees’ belief in the power of science to improve the human condition, the company commercializes innovative technology solutions for DNA, RNA, protein and small molecule analysis. Customers across the disciplines of academic and clinical research, pharmaceutical research and manufacturing, forensic DNA analysis, and agricultural biotechnology use the companyÂ™s tools and services to accelerate scientific discovery, improve processes related to drug discovery and development, detect potentially pathogenic microorganisms, and identify individuals based on DNA sources. Applied Biosystems has a comprehensive service and field applications support team for a global installed base of high-performance genetic and protein analysis solutions. Applied Biosystems Inc. is headquartered in Norwalk, CT. On June 12, 2008, Applera Corporation and Invitrogen Corporation (NASDAQ:IVGN) announced that their Boards of Directors had approved a definitive merger agreement under which Invitrogen will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Applied Biosystems stock. The merger is subject to customary closing conditions and is targeted to close in the fall of 2008. Further information regarding the merger will be provided in a joint proxy statement/prospectus to be mailed to stockholders of the company and Invitrogen. Investors and security holders are urged to read this document when it becomes available because it will contain important information. Information about Applied Biosystems, including reports and other information filed by the company with the Securities and Exchange Commission, is available at http://www.appliedbiosystems.com. All information in this news release is as of the date of the release, and Applied Biosystems does not undertake any duty to update this information unless required by law.
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