Advanced Cell Technology (OTCBB:ACTC) stated this morning that it sees potential for transdifferentiation in the field of regenerative medicine. Transdifferentiation involves reprogramming one type of adult cell, such as skin, into an altogether different type of cell, such as muscle or insulin-producing cells, without having to generate stem cells.
For over a decade, Advanced Cell Technology has developed a proprietary technology and has made “significant progress” discovering protocols and factors for inducing reprogramming of somatic cells with defined factors.
“One of the fruits of ACT’s early research efforts,” said William Caldwell, Chairman and CEO of ACTC “comes in the form of a robust intellectual property estate generated by the company. We have patent filings with priority dates going back a decade or more, and are positioned to control central factors involved in inducing heart cell formation, including factors described in recent publications.”
This month scientists successfully turned ordinary fibroblasts into beating heart cells providing evidence that transdifferentiation could play an important part in regenerative medicine.
“Our field has evolved from considering cell differentiation as an irreversible event to slowly accepting that cell fate is responsive to manipulation even late in differentiation,” said Robert Lanza, Chief Scientific Officer at ACT. “Only now is the regenerative medicine industry realizing its therapeutic appeal, and that some of the same techniques used for generating iPS cells can be used to directly reprogram one cell type into another. “
Advanced Cell Technology has also been progressively protecting its intellectual property relating to novel protocols and agents for predisposing differentiated cells to transdifferentiation. “We have a very strong IP position in place through pending and issued patent filings, including a recently-issued broad patent for enhancing the generation of nerve cells from fibroblasts through transdifferentiation,” Caldwell added.
The small cap Biotechnology and regenerative medicine company announced last week that it another of its proprietary technologies, a Blastomere technique for deriving human embryonic stem (ES) cells would unlikely to be affected by a federal court ruling which temporarily blocked federal funding for embryonic stem cell research involving the destruction of embryos, as ACT`s technology is "embryo-safe".
The company’s novel technique generates embryonic stem cell lines without destroying embryos, a breakthrough in the ethical debate surrounding the industry. Since then, the company has announced on multiple occasions the successful creation of human embryonic stem cell lines without the destruction or disruption of the developmental potential of the embryos.
In addition, ACT`s Phase I/II trial using embryonic stem cells to treat Stargardt`s disease is already fully-funded.
In late July, ACT filed documentation with the FDA to proceed with these trials and initiate a multi-centre study. In November last year, the company also filed an Investigational New Drug (IND) Application to commence treating patients, as it believes its product is “ideal” to gain early experience and knowledge about ES cell safety.
The company’s unique technology has attracted a considerable amount of mainstream press coverage recently, including The Washington Post this morning.