Researchers at Italy’s lstituto di Ricerche Biotechnologiche, S.p.A. (IRB) presented the potential of meristemic cells. These actives present a wealth of benefits—both from an activity standpoint as well as from a sustainability standpoint—and the sources for these cells should be able to be grown indefinitely under highly controlled conditions. IRB co-founder and R&D manager Roberto Dal Toso, who holds a doctorate in biology and has done postdoctoral training in pharmacology, presented the company’s work both from the angle of sustainability and that of the quality of the actives its meristemic cells yield.
Professor Dominique Le Guellec of the Institut de Biologie et Chimie des Protéines (IBCP) in Lyon, France, demonstrated the importance of ligands in stem cell maintenance by describing their role in stem cells exiting from and homing to the niche (stem cells indeed leave their niche to perform repair work and get back to it afterward), their retention in the niche, and the regulation of the proliferation of stem cells.
Le Guellec also pointed out the role of ligands in the orientation of the division of stem cells—when a stem cell divides, it gives rise to a new differentiated cell that then migrates to the proper tissue and to a new stem cell, thus keeping its renewal power. During this process, the genetic material held by the mother cell is not divided equally between both daughter cells, which makes sense since they will go on, undertaking very different roles. That dissymmetry in the dispatching of genes is modulated partially by adherence molecules such as integrins. This work is especially important, as new studies suggest that the aging process is not linked to the reduction in the number of stem cells but rather in the degradation of the niche. Many other teams work on improving the niche where stem cells nest, but Le Guellec’s work brings interesting new elements to the table.
Further, L’Oréal research scientist Maryline Paris, PhD, in collaboration with the Freda Miller Lab in Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, presented interesting work on the role of a protein called Tap63 in the adult dermal stem cell maintenance and skin and hair aging (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ pubmed/19570515).
Sandy Dumont from Seppic, a designer and suppler of specialty chemical products, presented on epidermal skin cell (ESC)-enriched keratinocyte cultures and their use to study the protective effects of cocoyl alanine against UVB and oxidative stress.
Ali Mojallal, MD, a plastic surgeon and assistant professor of plastic surgery at the University of Lyon, presented the results of injecting fat tissue, naturally rich in stem cells, that had been enriched and used for, among other things, autologous grafts in the face and the hands for rejuvenation, and in the lower limbs in the case of atrophies when skin is too tight and cannot be stretched. The results were simply stunning. The enriched fat tissue allows for the skin to regenerate along with the added benefit of filling the hollow parts.
The event made it obvious that stem cell research is incredibly vivid and productive, and the presentations allowed attendees to really grasp the breadth of the challenges inherent in the use of stem cells.