Stem cell platform engineered by U of T researchers sheds new light on beginnings of human development

PhD candidate Mukul Tewary is the lead author of a paper detailing the technology that enables human embryonic stem cells to self-organize into a structure with embryo-like features (photo courtesy of Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine)

Researchers at University of Toronto’s Medicine By Design have engineered a new platform to study the earliest stages of human development in the lab, pulling back the curtain on key biological processes that until now have taken place inside the uterus, beyond the gaze of scientists.

Believed to be the first of its kind in Canada, the technology enables human embryonic stem cells to self-organize into a structure with embryo-like features, including the early precursors of organs such as the brain, the heart and the liver.

Continue reading at UofT News.

Opinion: UBC erases boundaries between engineering and health

Peter Zandstra, most recently of the University of Toronto, has joined UBC to become the school’s first director.

A deceptively simple device invented at the University of B.C. is saving lives in the world’s most impoverished places.

Called the Phone Oximeter, it clips onto a person’s fingertip and is connected by wire to a smartphone’s audio port. By measuring blood-oxygen levels and heart and breathing rates with unprecedented simplicity, portability and affordability, it’s enabling easier diagnosis of illness in Mozambique, Pakistan and Uganda.

How it came to be at UBC reveals the magic of universities.

Continue reading at the Vancouver Sun.

U of T Engineering research paves way for an off-the-shelf supply of cells for immunotherapy

Shreya Shukla (third from right) meets stem cell pioneer James Till (second from right), as he tours the laboratory of Peter Zandstra (right) in July 2015. Also pictured are graduate students Jennifer Ma (front) and Nimalan Thavandiran (left). (Photo: James Poremba)

Nafees Rahman and Shreya Shukla‘s research in cell engineering could lead to a readily available supply of cells to boost patients’ immune systems against disease and to fight cancer.

The two PhD students, who worked in the laboratory of Medicine by Design‘s Professor Peter Zandstra, had their research detailed recently in two papers published in Nature Communications and Nature Methods

Continue reading at UofT News.

MBA and PhD students at U of T come together to map regenerative medicine ecosystem

Yonatan Lipsitz (centre), a PhD candidate at U of T’s Institute of Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering, discusses regenerative medicine commercialization at a team meeting as Anna Kobb (left) and Arif Aziz (right) look on (photo courtesy of Rotman)

When Arif Aziz learned last fall about a new independent study project that was bringing together MBA candidates and PhD students in health sciences and engineering to map the global market for stem cell therapies, he jumped at the opportunity. 

“I couldn’t believe it when I saw the posting,” said Aziz, an MBA candidate at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. “I thought to myself, ‘This is what I want to do.’”

Continue reading at UofT News.

New stem cell-based gene test predicts patient risk in acute myeloid leukemia

Stanley Ng (IBBME) holds up a cartridge used to measure the gene expression levels of cancer cells. A team led by Ng has developed a new rapid test that can predict the effectiveness of leukemia treatments for a given patient, providing results in 24 to 48 hours. Photo: Luke Ng

A new, rapid gene expression test could help clinicians determine the best management for patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) by making it possible to accurately predict a patient’s response to chemotherapy within one to two days of diagnosis.

A diagnosis of AML can be devastating for patients and families. The standard treatment is intensive chemotherapy, however patients vary widely in their response. Currently, it is difficult to predict who will do well with chemotherapy, and who will not benefit and might do better with novel therapies offered by clinical trials.

Continue reading at UofT Engineering News.