[Source: Deborah Daun, BIO5] – A European consortium promoting non-embryonic stem cell research has chosen a UA professor’s work on preventing vision loss as one of the first projects they will fund.
NovusSanguis (literally “new blood”) launched this May and seeks to support research that uses both stem cells from umbilical cord blood and adult stem cells. UA College of Medicine professor and BIO5 member David Harris received a grant from the consortium to fund his research into using cord stem cells to regenerate damaged cornea cells. Harris’ research is one of about 15 projects that NovusSanguis has initially committed to funding.
Harris has been studying umbilical cord stem cells since the 1990s, and was the first person in the world to “bank” cord blood for later use by families. He is currently scientific director of the Cord Blood Registry.
Stem cells are valuable because they are undifferentiated and can be induced to develop into many different types of specialized cells — such as muscle cells, red blood cells, or brain cells. That flexibility makes them valuable in treating and developing treatments for a wide range of diseases, from heart disease and diabetes to leukemia and Parkinson’s disease. Currently more than 75 diseases are treated with umbilical cord stem cells.
NovusSanguis was created by researchers at England’s Newcastle University and France’s Fondation J