Stanford’s Laboratory for Cell and Gene Medicine aims to ‘cure the incurable’

laboratory for cell gene medicine braincancer
Creative Commons
When you read about initiatives like Stanford University’s new Laboratory for Cell and Gene Medicine, it’s difficult to think of too many other places on Earth where more exciting — and potentially life-changing — work is being done.

Opened in September, the 25,000-square-foot facility is currently attacking a number of the world’s most challenging medical problems. As laboratory director Dr. David DiGiusto puts it, it’s all about “curing the incurable.”

“Many diseases cannot be cured with conventional therapies that are palliative only in nature,” laboratory director DiGiusto told Digital Trends. “Other diseases have no effective treatments at all. Our mission is to develop and test cures for incurable diseases using cell and gene therapy. We are currently working on cancer, monogenic disease (i.e., SCID, sickle cell, and other immune deficiencies), and regenerative medicine [like] dermatology, neurosciences, and cardiovascular medicine.”

laboratory for cell gene medicine screen shot 2016 12 28 at 22 01 51

The lab is currently carrying out a range of exciting projects in its “clean rooms.” These include sheets of genetically corrected skin that can be given as skin grafts to patients suffering from the blistering skin disease epidermolysis bullosa, in which layers of skin don’t adhere properly to the body. There are also projects to regenerate corneal cells in the eye, repair mutations in blood cells, genetically engineer immune system T cells to fight cancer, and more.

As DiGiusto points out, these efforts have the possibility to “end great suffering if ultimately successfully commercialized.”

While there are other laboratories around the U.S. working on projects like cell-based approaches to cancer, what is impressive about Stanford’s efforts is the massive scale. A bit like legendary research facilities such as Xerox PARC — where much of the technology behind the personal computer revolution was invented — there are so many interesting projects being carried out at the Laboratory for Cell and Gene Medicine that it’s difficult to name them all.

Suffice it to say that if you hadn’t heard of the lab before now, that will almost certainly change over the coming years.

“There are now quite a few academic manufacturing facilities supporting [similar] efforts but most are working on only two or three products,” DiGiusto said. “Stanford has a broad portfolio of candidate cell and gene therapies that we will likely have eight to 10 products in the queue at all times. Because Stanford has the basic science, translational, and manufacturing capability, and 2 hospitals focused on clinical research — Stanford Health Care and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital — we have a tremendous infrastructure in place to develop and test a wide array of candidate therapies. The magnitude of the effort is quite significant.”

Movies & TV

‘Sopranos’ prequel ‘The Many Saints of Newark’ adds ‘The Punisher’ star

The upcoming movie The Many Saints of Newark, based on HBO's hit series The Sopranos, will serve as a prequel to the show. It will focus on Tony Soprano as a boy, as well as the race riots that rocked Newark in 1967.
Home Theater

Disney’s ‘Vision and Scarlet Witch’ streaming series hires ‘Captain Marvel’ writer

Marvel has hired Captain Marvel screenwriter Jac Schaeffer to serve as head writer and showrunner on its upcoming series The Vision and Scarlet Witch, which is expected to be one of the first shows on the Disney Plus streaming service.

Enjoy Windows on a Chromebook with these great tips and tricks

If you want to push the functionality of your new Chromebook to another level, and Linux isn't really your deal, you can try installing Windows on a Chromebook. Here's how to do so, just in case you're looking to nab some Windows-only…

Here’s everything we know about ‘Yoshi’s Crafted World’ for the Switch

Yoshi's first big adventure on Nintendo Switch, Yoshi's Crafted World, will whisk you off into a cardboard world to stop the treachery of Baby Bowser and Kamek. Here's everything we know about the adorable platformer.
Emerging Tech

Watch China’s moon mission touch down on the planet’s far side

Video has been shared of a lander's-eye view of China's Chang'e 4 mission touching down in the Von Kármán Crater on the far side of the moon. The craft captured footage of the descent with a camera which was attached to the probe.
Emerging Tech

SpaceX nails its first launch and landing of 2019, but job cuts loom

SpaceX has nailed its first launch and landing of 2019 with a mission that deployed more satellites for Virginia-based Iridium Communications. But the success was soured somewhat by reports of upcoming job losses at the company.
Emerging Tech

The enormous ‘Flying Bum’ moves toward a commercial design

A prototype of the world's largest aircraft is being retired as the company behind it prepares to build a production model. The new Airlander 10, also known as the "Flying Bum," could be ready for commercial use by 2025.
Emerging Tech

Sick of walking everywhere? Here are the best electric skateboards you can buy

Thanks for Kickstarter and Indiegogo, electric skateboards are carving a bigger niche than you might think. Whether you're into speed, mileage, or something a bit more stylish, here are the best electric skateboards on the market.
Emerging Tech

The best 3D printers for 2019

On the hunt for a new 3D printer? We've got your back. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned veteran, this list of the best 3D printers has what you're looking for.
Emerging Tech

Wish you could fly? You totally can with these top-of-the-line drones

In just the past few years, drones have transformed from a geeky hobbyist affair to a full-on cultural phenomenon. Here's a no-nonsense rundown of the best drones you can buy right now, no matter what kind of flying you plan to do.
Emerging Tech

Face-scanning A.I. can help doctors spot unusual genetic disorders

Facial recognition can unlock your phone. Could it also be used to identify whether a person has a rare genetic disorder, based on their facial features? New research suggests it can.
Emerging Tech

Lasers and bovine breathalyzer help determine how much methane cows produce

Cow farts and belches don't sound like catastrophic threats, but they contribute to the massive amounts of methane in the atmosphere. Recently, scientists set out to establish the numbers.
Emerging Tech

Researchers discover a way to make 3D printing 100 times faster using light

Researchers at the University of Michigan have invented a new method of 3D printing which is up to 100 times faster than conventional 3D-printing processes. Here's how it works and why it could prove a game-changer for 3D printing.
Emerging Tech

Why wait? Here are some CES 2019 gadgets you can buy right now

Companies come to CES to wow us with their cutting edge technology, but only a few products are slated to hit the market right away. Here is our list of the best CES 2019 tech you can buy right now.