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International Stem Cell Institute
Since opening its doors last year, Cedars-Sinai's International Stem Cell Institute has begun conducting research involving stem cells in areas such as early human development, inherited diseases, neural repair and regeneration, cardiological and musculoskeletal disorders.

The institute's research studies mainly use adult stem cells, although research using embryonic stem cells is under way. Unlike adult stem cells, which are yet to be isolated for many tissues, embryonic stem cells have the potential to develop into many of the more than 220 cell types that make up the human body.

"Here in our lab in Cedars-Sinai, we are deriving new human embryonic stem cell lines," said research scientist Neta Lavon. "Unused blastocysts are collected after we receive proper informed consent from couples undergoing IVF treatment. Our group uses these embryonic stem cells in order to study human early development and for the analysis of genetic disorders for which no suitable animal or cellular models exist."

To promote worldwide collaboration, the International Stem Cell Institute has welcomed researchers who are interested in working with Cedars-Sinai to bring potential cures and therapies involving stem cells (mainly adult stem cells) into the clinical setting. As a result, pre-clinical animal studies as well as pilot studies involving human subjects (clinical trials) will be conducted here.

"Already, two prominent groups from Israel have set up laboratories and collaborations with our clinicians to investigate bone and cartilage repair as well as neural cell protection and regeneration," said David I. Meyer, Ph.D., vice president of Research and Scientific Affairs. Meyer is co-director of the International Stem Cell Institute along with Nissim Benvenisty, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of genetics at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

"The potential benefits of such collaborations may include therapies for neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS or Parkinson's, spinal cord injury, or regeneration of damaged or lost intervertebral spinal discs," Meyer said. "We are currently considering other partnerships involving research teams from other countries."