Oregon Stem Cell Center result of OHSU research strides

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Oregon Health & Science University's fast-growing stem cell research program, which already has made significant strides in the hunt for human disease therapies, now has a place to call home.

The multidisciplinary Oregon Stem Cell Center, the first of its kind in the Northwest, is studying cell and gene therapy as an alternative to organ transplantation for pancreatic and liver disorders, diabetes, cancer and a host of other human diseases. Its focus will be on adult stem cells.

Launched in January, the center is housed among several laboratories on the Marquam Hill Campus, but it will occupy a single floor in the 270,000-square-foot Biomedical Research Building now under construction and to be completed in fall 2005.

Its director, Markus Grompe, M.D., professor of molecular and medical genetics, and pediatrics in the OHSU School of Medicine, said the center is a hub for all areas of OHSU's rapidly expanding stem cell biology program. It aims to maximize the potential of various stem cells as therapies for human diseases through a rapid, "bench-to-bedside" approach involving basic research in stem cell biology and preclinical trials of therapies in animal models, followed by human trials.

"This is something we needed but didn't have," said Grompe, who has long studied gene and cell therapy for metabolic genetic diseases, as well as the molecular genetics of a rare, cancer-susceptibility syndrome called Fanconi anemia. "The consensus here at OHSU is that this is an area that is going to be important."

While the center's offerings will widen over time to cover other diseases -- Parkinson's disease and diabetes are considered "hot" areas of stem cell research -- it will concentrate on two areas for now and "build on that."

"My idea is to focus on the liver and the pancreas, and focus on adult stem cells," he said. "Our research already is advanced in liver reconstitution by stem cells and the repair of l

Contact: Jonathan Modie
Oregon Health & Science University

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