The Indiana university system consists of eight regional campuses offering undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs in a variety of academic disciplines including medicine, biology, engineering, math, and physical sciences. Although the flagship undergraduate university campus is located in Bloomington, the medical school and medical research is located in Indianapolis. In agreement with Indiana’s law regarding stem cell research, Indiana University’s stem cell research focuses on adult-source stem cells.
In 2007 the Indiana legislature approved the establishment of, and appropriated $50,000 for, an Adult Stem Cell Research Center at Indiana University. The legislature gave the Indiana University School of Medicine approval to administer the center, including appointing a director and accepting income from donations, gifts, and so on, to be used to support the center’s activities. The center will be tasked with providing an assessment of the status and future of adult stem cell research and with devising a strategy for Indiana University to attract and retain adult stem cell research scientists.
INDIANA UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE
The Indiana University School of Medicine was established in 1903 and has established itself as a research center for both basic and clinical research. A highlight in its adult stem cell research includes an early clinical trial using stem cell injections for treating peripheral artery disease (clogging atherosclerosis and hardening of arteries) to demonstrate the safety of using stem cells for blood vessel growth and wound healing, as the stem cells/progenitor cells targeted the lining of the blood vessel. With additional research, the team hopes to find a therapy to restore adequate stem cells in patients with heart disease or at risk for heart disease so that the body will be able to repair or replace damaged blood vessels and prevent the progression of heart disease.
Using a patient’s own stem cells from bone marrow could reduce the complications associated with such a transplant. Research is currently focused on the regeneration of limbs/digits, cardiovascular system, musculoskeletal system, neural/endocrine system, biomaterials and chemical biology, bioinfor-matics and systems biology, and cancer.
The Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center, founded in 1992 and renamed in 2006, part of the School of Medicine. The center provides patient care, education, and research opportunities. Research is focused on improving cancer care with gene therapy trials for testicular cancer, brain tumors, genetic diseases, and other disorders.
The Center for Regenerative Biology and Medicine was established in 2001 through a grant from the state of Indiana’s 21st Century Research and Technology Fund. It is a multidisciplinary collaboration between the university’s School of Science and the School of Medicine. The center’s research is coordinated through multiple academic disciplines, including the basic science behind the development of cells/tissue/organs and the regeneration capabilities of plants and animals for translation into human clinical therapies to repair damaged or diseased tissue.
The center has nine organized research programs: regeneration of appendages, blood, heart, musculoskeletal, neural, endocrine, plant, and cancer, as well as the basic science of biomaterials and chemical biology and of bioinformatics and systems biology, and a focus on bioethical issues associated with the field of regenerative science and medicine.
In addition to research, the center offers graduate-level education leading to master’s and doctoral degrees in regenerative biology and medicine with a cross-discipline approach.
CELL THERAPY PRODUCTS
The Emerging Technology Center helps researchers translate basic science innovations into clinical/commercial applications by assisting with new business development, including developing business plans and arranging financing.
One example of the center’s success is EndGeni-tor Technologies, founded by two physicians at the Indiana University School of Medicine, who discovered endothelial stem cells/progenitor cells by comparing adult blood cells with infant umbilical cords to create cell therapy products for treating extremities circulation problems/heart disease and problems with blood vessels and circulation, as well as for treating chronic problems associated with aging. The physicians are owners in the company and continued to teach at the university after hiring a chief executive officer and support staff.
In the short term, the company will produce test kits for researchers to use for detecting the presence of endothelial stem and progenitor cells or as a research tool for testing a compound’s ability to block the growth of blood vessels and tumor growth, or for compounds that promote growth or repair of blood vessels.
The Indiana University Center for Bioethics was established in 2001 to research and educate the university and the public about the social, ethical, and legal issues associated with science, health, and research. The stem cell study group focuses on the social, ethical, legal, and policy issues relating to human embryonic stem cells.
The Biomechanics and Biomaterials Research Center fosters interdisciplinary research across several medical and engineering disciplines. The center promotes research in biological mechanics, biomaterials design and synthesis, transplants/ implants, and tissue engineering.
STEM CELL BANK
Indiana’s General Biotechnology is an umbilical stem cell bank founded in 2007 after a postdoctoral student from Indiana University studied how to improve cord blood processing. The company accepts, cryopreserves, and stores these cells to meet the growing demand for stem cells used in blood and bone marrow transplants, as well as other procedures, with hope for expansion to include adipose cells for use in bone/cartilage repair and stem cells for veterinary use.