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Looking to the Future of Stem Cell Eye Research

Last updated:
9 February 2017
A Note from Majlinda Lako, Associate Editor of STEM CELLS



Sight is the most precious of all human senses and blindness is one of the most feared health threats. Worldwide, intensive research is being carried out to better understand the causes that lead to eye disease, to identify stem and progenitor cells with regenerative potential in various parts of the eye, and to conduct gene therapies for restoring vision. Many of the disorders that cause blindness are currently difficult to treat and Holoclar® is the only approved stem cell treatment for the eye. This treatment involves taking corneal stem cells from the patients, expanding these in the laboratory and transplanting them into the injured eye. This treatment is only applicable for patients that have some corneal stem cells left in their eyes for laboratory expansion. 


Two ground -breaking clinical trials, led by Dr. Takahashi (Japan) and Astellas Institute of Regenerative Medicine, have transplanted retinal pigment epithelial cells (RPE) derived from human pluripotent stem cells into patients with Age Related Macular Degeneration and Stargardt’s Macular dystrophy. The long term outcomes of both trials are eagerly waited, however the initial results published by Astellas Institute of Regenerative Medicine phase I/II trial suggests that pluripotent stem cell-derived RPE do not cause any adverse effects upon transplantation, opening the path for promising phase III multi center trials. 


STEM CELLS has had a long interest in stem cell therapies for eye disease. The 11 well-cited articles for this virtual issue encompass the breadth of research performed by stem cell scientists in the eye field, starting with lineage tracing of corneal epithelial stem cells, better understanding of their niche, and application of other epithelial stem cells for treatment of patients with bilateral corneal disease. A number of articles describe the application of cutting-edge genome editing technologies for purification of various eye cells and generation of disease models in a dish from pluripotent stem cells. Last but not least, these articles provide novel insights into how best to differentiate pluripotent stem cells into desired eye lineages and how to make these protocols robust and amenable to good manufacturing practice regulations. 


This fast-paced stem and regenerative medicine field calls for more pioneering progress. We invite authors to submit their original research papers on transplantation of cells into various parts of the eye that may lead us closer to clinical application. Articles are subject to peer review and, if accepted, will appear in a new special Eye Series. 


On behalf of the Editors, I hope that you enjoy reading this excellent collection of recent manuscripts. We thank all of the authors for their commitment to their research and the Journal, and look forward to publishing new research on furthering this progress. 

The Best Papers From Our 2016 Young Investigators

Last updated:
6 January 2017
The STEM CELLS Young Investigator Award honors a young scientist who is principal author of a significant research paper published in STEM CELLS. The 11th annual award recipient is Gunes Uzer, PhD. Here, we feature Dr. Uzer’s paper, chosen by a panel of judges composed of our Senior Editors. “STEM CELLS is delighted to honor Dr. Uzer for his important research into molecular mechanisms by which stem and progenitor cells respond to their environments,” said Jan Nolta, PhD, editor-in-chief of SC and director of the University of California Davis Institute for Regenerative Cures. “This paper from Dr. Uzer and team deciphers the signals by which the nucleus and cytoskeleton are coupled in response to mechanotransduction. This type of research is critical to formulating methods to use stem cells in therapy, as well as to deepen our comprehension of basic cell biology."
Dr. Uzer’s paper, “Cell Mechanosensitivity to Extremely Low-Magnitude Signals Is Enabled by a LINCed Nucleus,” is featured below, along with the top finalists for the 2016 award. The STEM CELLS Editors support the efforts of emerging researchers and encourage the development of these young investigators who are making significant impacts in this field, thus fostering the future of their clinical applications.

Most Influential Articles from the Stem Cell Sister Journals

Last updated:
5 January 2017
A Note from Terry R.J. Lappin, Concise Review Editor for the Sister Journals
The major challenge confronting regenerative medicine is to find safe practical procedures to harness the potential of stem cells for long term clinical benefit. Two key objectives of the escalating efforts in stem cell research are to develop a deep understanding of stem cell biology, and to apply this knowledge to exploit novel therapeutic options.
STEM CELLS and STEM CELLS Translational Medicine focus on these areas, covering a diverse array of preclinical and clinical research.
The 14 well-cited articles selected for this special issue attest to the depth and breadth of recent publications in the Sister Journals. They report studies on exosomes, mesenchymal stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells which were designed to clarify mechanisms of differentiation, mechanosensitivity and immunosuppression, using cutting-edge techniques such as lineage tracing and CRISPR/Cas9. These approaches have provided valuable insights into neuroregeneration, angiogenesis, hematopoiesis, cancer progression, aging and wound healing. Practical issues such as the source, stage of development and purity of donor cells and the use of xeno-free media are also discussed.
The Editors hope that you will enjoy browsing this eclectic collection of recent manuscripts from STEM CELLS and STEM CELLS Translational Medicine, and that their continuing commitment to the Sister Journals will make a useful contribution to the ongoing progress of regenerative medicine.

Special Neural Stem Cells Virtual Issue

Last updated:
4 January 2017
This special virtual issue highlights a number of exciting papers published in the Sister Journals over the past two years. By way of introduction, Professor Noel Buckley provides an insightful commentary on the burgeoning field of neural stem cells, focusing on their potential to improve our understanding of neurological disease and to reveal novel therapeutic targets. He goes on to discuss the huge challenges that remain in the design of relevant experimental systems.
The manuscripts selected from STEM CELLS and STEM CELLS Translational Medicine for this collection illustrate the novelty and diversity of experimental approaches to neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders currently underway globally.
We hope that you will be both informed and inspired by browsing this Virtual Issue!

The Best Papers From Our 2015 Young Investigators

Last updated:
3 January 2017
The STEM CELLS Young Investigator Award honors a young scientist who is principal author of a significant research paper published in STEM CELLS. The 10th annual award went to Kamil R. Kranc, M.D., Ph.D. Here, we feature Professor Kranc’s paper, chosen by a panel of judges composed of our Senior Editors. Also included below are the finalists for the 2015 award. The STEM CELLS Editors support the efforts of these emerging researchers and encourage the development of these young investigators who are making significant impacts in this field, thus fostering the future of their clinical applications. Click here to read the interview with the STEM CELLS 2015 Young Investigator Award winner.

Stem Cell Awareness Day 2015

Last updated:
2 January 2017
A Note From the Editor-in-Chief, Jan A. Nolta, PhD:
The manuscripts selected for this special issue represent highly cited, cutting-edge stem cell science and solutions to problems currently faced in the field of translating stem cell therapies into clinical products. Induced pluripotent stem cells have unlimited potential and the nature of induction needs to be better understood to ensure safe and stable products. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have shown a strong safety profile in numerous clinical trials, and efficacy has been demonstrated in some trials, but not others. It is thus critical to understand the best methods for expanding mesenchymal stem cells in culture, for conditioning them prior to transplantation, and for understanding more about the biology of expanded cells, in order to make the most effective products.
STEM CELLS, brought to you by Alphamed Press and Wiley, is proud to be a leader in advancing the field of stem cell biology through fostering an improved understanding of the mechanisms that drive stem cell self-renewal and differentiation. Through a better understanding of Stem Cell Biology, we assist in promoting translation into the clinic.
We hope that you enjoy this very informative virtual issue, and we wish you a Happy Stem Cell Awareness Day 2015!

Top Ten Articles on the Biology of Embryonic and Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells

Last updated:
30 December 2016
Protocols to differentiate and examine embryonic stem cells have improved steadily over the past years, and have given biologists incredible insight into lineage commitment and development. Then the Nobel-prize winning development of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from adult cell sources completely changed the field of stem cell biology. With the ability to create and study iPSC lines and their lineage-specific derivatives from patients with known diseases and genotypes, the use of this technology has exploded. In the current issue we present our ten top downloaded manuscripts from Stem Cells in 2014-2015, that focus on the biology of embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells.

The Best Papers from our 2014 Young Investigators

Last updated:
29 December 2016
The STEM CELLS Young Investigator Award honors a young scientist who is principal author of a significant research paper published in STEM CELLS. The STEM CELLS Editors support the efforts of these emerging researchers and encourage the development of these young investigators who are making significant impacts in this field, thus fostering the future of their clinical applications.

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Video abstract from Dr. Dunaway et al. on his recently published STEM CELLS paper entitled, "Dental Pulp Stem Cells Model Early Life and Imprinted DNA Methylation Patterns." Read the paper here.

Video abstract from Dr. Hochane et al. on his recently published STEM CELLS paper entitled, "Low-Dose Pesticide Mixture Induces Senescence in Normal Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSC) and Promotes Tumorigenic Phenotype in Premalignant MSC." Read the paper here.

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