Researchers and the translational reality. Interview with Karen Aboody

Regenerative Medicine (Impact Factor: 2.79). 11/2012; 7(6s):64-66. DOI: 10.2217/rme.12.85


Karen Aboody has first-hand experience of taking a potential therapy from the laboratory into clinical trials. Here, she shares with us the challenges and rewards of going from bench to bedside, and why all biomedical researchers need to know what it takes to make the transition if they want the best chance of seeing their discoveries used to help patients. Karen Aboody received her MD at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and completed her post-doctoral training in Molecular Neurogenetics at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School. After gaining experience in pathology, gene therapy and biotechnology, she joined City of Hope (COH) in 2003 to head a translational research laboratory focused on therapeutic stem cell applications for invasive and metastatic solid tumors. In 2010, she received US FDA approval for a first-in-human clinical trial for neural stem cell-mediated therapy for high-grade glioma patients. This Phase I study is ongoing at COH, supported by NCI/NIH funding. In 2010, she received an US$18 million California Institute of Regenerative Medicine Disease Team Award to develop a second-generation enzyme/prodrug stem cell-mediated brain tumor therapy for clinical trials that may also have applications for other metastatic cancers. Honors include the 2000 AANS Young Investigator Award, and 2008 ASGCT Outstanding New Investigator Award. She recently founded a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, TheraBiologics Inc., to support clinical development of neural stem cell-mediated cancer therapies.

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    ABSTRACT: Many central nervous system (CNS) diseases including stroke, spinal cord injury (SCI), and brain tumors are a significant cause of worldwide morbidity/mortality and yet do not have satisfying treatments. Cell-based therapy to restore lost function or to carry new therapeutic genes is a promising new therapeutic approach, particularly after human iPSCs became available. However, efficient generation of footprint-free and xeno-free human iPSC is a prerequisite for their clinical use. In this paper, we will first summarize the current methodology to obtain footprint- and xeno-free human iPSC. We will then review the current iPSC applications in therapeutic approaches for CNS regeneration and their use as vectors to carry proapoptotic genes for brain tumors and review their applications for modelling of neurological diseases and formulating new therapeutic approaches. Available results will be summarized and compared. Finally, we will discuss current limitations precluding iPSC from being used on large scale for clinical applications and provide an overview of future areas of improvement. In conclusion, significant progress has occurred in deriving iPSC suitable for clinical use in the field of neurological diseases. Current efforts to overcome technical challenges, including reducing labour and cost, will hopefully expedite the integration of this technology in the clinical setting.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2016 · Stem cell International