Skip to Content

San Diego Company Formed Around Breakthrough in Stem Cell Reprogramming in Primates

SAN DIEGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov 27, 2007 - Cascade LifeSciences Incorporated today announced that its collaborator, Dr. Shoukhrat Mitalipov, Ph.D., and Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), have made a major breakthrough in the reprogramming of primate skin cells into stem cells. The breakthrough may advance health care research/discovery and help lead to therapeutic stem cell products to combat numerous human diseases. As published in the journal Nature on November 22, 2007, Dr. Mitalipov and his team at OHSU's Oregon National Primate Research Center are the first to successfully create monkey embryonic stem cells using a technique known as somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT). For more detail see:

Cascade LifeSciences is the exclusive worldwide licensee of Dr. Mitalipov's technology related to SCNT reprogramming as well as a second method of generating embryonic stem cells using an approach known as parthenogenesis. Notably, both approaches are capable of generating pluripotent embryonic stem cells without the use or need for fertilized embryos as a starting material. Moreover, both of Dr. Mitalipov's approaches have the additional attribute of producing embryonic stem cells genetically matched to the patient, thus, avoiding immune rejection issues in the human therapeutic setting. Dr. Mitalipov and Cascade LifeSciences are collaborating on further refinement and development of this technology.

Dr. Donald Wolf, Ph.D., a retired OHSU primate center scientist who helped author the Nature paper, and currently chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board of Cascade LifeSciences, commented, "Dr. Mitalipov's new technology provides a solid basis for the development of human SCNT-ESC lines that may ultimately save thousands of human lives."

Howard Birndorf, President and Founder of Cascade LifeSciences, commented, "We are pleased to be associated with Dr. Mitalipov, his team at OHSU and, in particular, this breakthrough in primate stem cell creation. We are working with Dr. Mitalipov to refine his primate work, begin the next phase in producing human embryonic stem cells via SCNT, and expand our proprietary position in this powerful area of regenerative medicine."

"OHSU is proud of Dr. Mitalipov's success. More importantly we are encouraged by the hope it holds for patients suffering from several diseases that may be treated through stem cell therapies," said Arundeep S. Pradhan, Director of OHSU's Office of Technology & Research Collaboration. "We are pleased to partner with Cascade LifeSciences in efforts to further advance these findings and further move these promising developments from lab bench to bedside."

Ken Woolcott, Chief Business Officer of Cascade LifeSciences, commented, "Dr. Mitalipov's work represents a scientific foundation from which we will pursue numerous commercial opportunities including research reagents/kits, drug discovery models/systems and, ultimately, human therapeutic products. While stem cell research is moving forward rapidly, we believe that the OHSU advances offer key long-term technical/commercial differentiators. Not only do we no longer need embryos as a starting material, the technology appears to address the issue of transplant rejection in the therapeutic setting and, moreover, does not require the use of retroviral transvection of additional DNA, such as transgenes, oncogenes, etc., to create pluripotent stem cells."


A major challenge in cell-based regenerative therapy is a limited supply of immunologically matched cells for transplantation. Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) represent a potential source of transplantable cells and it is possible to generate patient-specific ESCs that should be immunologically compatible using an approach called Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT). In this technique nuclear material from the patient's somatic cell is transferred into an enucleated donor oocyte. The oocyte is chemically activated and development begins. While this technology has been established in other mammals, Dr. Mitalipov and his scientific team are the first to successfully perform SCNT in a primate. This accomplishment is based on a thorough investigation of the molecular mechanisms regulating nuclear remodeling following SCNT in primates. By isolation and culture of the Inner Cell Mass (ICM) from blastocysts, a panel of SCNT-ESC lines were established that are pluripotent and can be differentiated into tissue-specific multipotent stem cells or potentially into any of the 206 mature cell types in the body. Dr. Mitalipov's work is a major breakthrough in stem cell science.

About Cascade LifeSciences Incorporated

Cascade LifeSciences is a private San Diego-based company with a platform of stem cell related technologies that are being advanced to serve the research community and the commercial development of stem cell-based therapeutics.


Cascade LifeSciences Inc.
Kenneth J. Woolcott
Chief Business Officer

Posted: November 2007