Skip to main content
Sign In

In the News

Brand-new Gates Biomanufacturing Facility promises to be a ‘game changer’ on the Anschutz Medical Campus

Researchers find method to expand blood stem cells 
AURORA, Colo. (Sept. 2, 2014) – A team of scientists from the University of Colorado School of Medicine has reported the breakthrough discovery of a process to expand production of stem cells used to treat cancer patients. These findings could have implications that extend beyond cancer, including treatments for inborn immunodeficiency and metabolic conditions and autoimmune diseases.
In an article published Aug. 29 in PLOS ONE, researchers from the Charles C. Gates Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Biology and Taiga Biotechnologies, Inc. said they have uncovered the keys to the molecular code that appear to regulate the ability of blood stem cells to reproduce and retain their stem-like characteristics.
The team developed protein products that can be directly administered to blood stem cells to encourage them to multiply without permanent genetic modifications.
“Use of stem cells to treat cancer patients who face bone marrow transplants has been a common practice for four decades,” said Yosef Refaeli, Ph.D., an associate dermatology professor and one of the study’s lead scientists. “The biggest challenge, however, has been finding adequate supplies of stem cells that help patients fight infection after the procedure.”
Gates Stem Cell Center Director Dennis Roop, Ph.D., recognized the magnitude of the team’s work.  
“Researchers have long attempted to increase the number of blood stem cells in a lab,” Roop said. “Most of those approaches have been limited by the nature of the resulting cells or the inadequate number of cells produced.”
The technology described in the PLOS ONE article has worked with blood stem cells obtained from cord blood, adult bone marrow or peripheral blood from adults.
“The ability to multiply blood stem cells from any source in a dish will be critical for adoption of this new technology in clinics,” said Brian Turner, Ph.D., MHS, Taiga Biotechnologies’ chief scientific officer. Dr. Turner is also one of the paper’s lead authors.
The goal now is to move the technology from the lab into clinical trials. Taiga Biotechnologies is in the process of setting up first-in-human clinical trials with the blood stem cell expansion approaches described in the article. The clinical applications for expanded human blood stem cells vary from inborn immunodeficiency conditions, like SCID and sickle cell anemia, to metabolic conditions, like Hurler’s disease or Gaucher syndrome. Autoimmune diseases that could be affected include severe multiple sclerosis and lupus. And the types of cancer that could be treated as a result of this research include leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma and other types of solid tumors.
About the Charles C. Gates Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Biology
The Charles C. Gates Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Center was established in 2006 with a gift in  memory of Denver industrialist and philanthropist, Charles C. Gates, who was captivated by the hope and benefit stem cell research promised for so many people in the world.  The Gates Center aspires to honor what he envisioned—by doing everything possible to support the collaboration between basic scientific researchers and clinical faculty to transition scientific breakthroughs into clinical practice as quickly as possible. 
Led by Founding Director Dennis Roop, PhD, the Gates Center is located at the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus, the largest new biomedical and clinical campus in the United States. Operating as the only comprehensive Stem Cell Center within a 500-mile radius, the Gates Center shares its services and resources with an ever-enlarging membership of researchers and clinicians at the Anschutz Medical Campus, which includes University of Colorado Hospital, Children’s Hospital Colorado and the future Veterans Administration Medical Center, as well as the Boulder campus, Colorado State University, the Colorado School of Mines, and business startups.  This collaboration is designed to draw on the widest possible array of scientific exploration relevant to stem cell technology focused on the delivery of innovative therapies in Colorado and beyond.
About Taiga Biotechnologies, Inc.
Taiga Biotechnologies, Inc. is a biotechnology company based in Aurora, CO. Taiga Biotechnologies’ mission is to develop novel approaches to treat complex diseases, including cancers, immunodeficiencies and infectious agents such as Influenza and HIV.  The company is currently developing six core programs, all enabled by the company’s proprietary stem cell technologies: the development of  laboratory expanded donor blood stem cells for indications that include congenic or acquired immunodeficiency and cancer; a novel immunotherapeutic for improvement of outcomes following vaccination for infectious diseases or cancer; a novel biological that may expedite recovery from bone marrow stem cell transplantation; a novel approach for the expansion of human T-cells in a dish without genetic modification, to be used for passive immunotherapy for cancer or infectious disease; red blood cell pharming from blood stem cell lines for clinical use in civilian and military applications; therapeutic antibodies based on a novel approach for development of antibody specificities for difficult protein targets.
About the University of Colorado School of Medicine
Faculty at the University of Colorado School of Medicine work to advance science and improve care. These faculty members include physicians, educators and scientists at University of Colorado Hospital, Children’s Hospital Colorado, Denver Health, National Jewish Health, and the Denver Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The school is located on the Anschutz Medical Campus, one of four campuses in the University of Colorado system. To learn more about the medical school’s care, education, research and community engagement, visit its web site.


The Skin Disease Research Center sponsored an International Symposium on the Advancement of Basic and Clinical Skin Research on March 21st, 2014 at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.  There were presentations by six international specialists in skin research.

The Gates Stem Cell Center held an iPSC Culture Course at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus on March 10-17, 2014. 
If you would like to inquire into participating in this course in the future, please contact

Colorado Representative Mike Coffman Draws Attention to Cutting Edge Research at the Gates Center.
Link to Article >>

University of Colorado Cancer Center Opens Phase I Clinical Trial with Investigational Anti-Cancer Stem Cell Agent OMP-54F28

The University of Colorado Cancer Center, together with other participating academic medical centers, recently opened a phase I human clinical trial of the drug OMP-54F28 in patients with advanced solid tumor cancers. OMP-54F28, a candidate investigational drug discovered by OncoMed Pharmaceuticals, targets cancer stem cells (CSCs), also known as tumor-initiating cells, which many researchers believe are at the root of tumor occurrence and growth. These CSCs are notoriously resistant to existing chemotherapies and so may survive current treatments to repopulate a tumor, leading to relapse and metastasis. 

"It's a terrific opportunity to put a drug targeting cancer stem cells in the clinic, especially a drug with as much promise in preclinical studies as this one," says Antonio Jimeno, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine/Oncology, director of the university's Cancer Stem Cell-Directed Clinical Trials Program, and principal investigator of the clinical trial at the CU Cancer Center site. “It is a privilege to work with such a science-focused partner, whose vision totally aligns with ours: bringing to the clinic cutting-edge drugs and ideas that are supported by robust scientific data. In the context of the collaboration between the Gates Center for Stem Cell Biology and the CU Cancer Center this will be the second clinical trial we will be offering to our patients with the specific intent to target the CSCs in their tumors."

Specifically, OMP-54F28 is an antagonist of the Wnt pathway, a key CSC signaling pathway that regulates the fate of these cells. The Wnt pathway has been intensively studied and is now known to be inappropriately activated in many major tumor types, including colon, breast, liver, lung and pancreatic cancers, and is thought to be critical for the function of CSCs. Because of this extensive preclinical validation, the Wnt pathway has been a major focus of anti-cancer drug discovery efforts. OMP-54F28 and a sister compound also developed by OncoMed, OMP-18R5, are believed to be two of the first therapeutic agents targeting this key pathway to enter clinical testing. Both OMP-54F28 and OMP-18R5 are part of OncoMed’s Wnt pathway strategic alliance with Bayer Pharma AG.

In multiple preclinical models, OMP-54F28 has shown its effectiveness in reducing CSC populations, leading to associated anti-tumor activity, either as a single agent or when combined with chemotherapy. 

The Phase I clinical trial of OMP-54F28 is an open-label dose escalation study in patients with advanced solid tumors for which there is no remaining standard curative therapy. These patients are assessed for safety, immunogenicity, pharmacokinetics, biomarkers, and initial signals of efficacy. The trial is being conducted at Pinnacle Oncology Hematology in Scottsdale, Arizona, the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan, and the CU Cancer Center under the direction of Principal Investigators Dr. Michael S. Gordon, Dr. David Smith and Dr. Antonio Jimeno, respectively. 

"We all hope and expect this drug to live up to its preclinical potential," Jimeno says. "And if it does, we will have a powerful new therapy, exploiting a novel pathway to target this most dangerous subpopulation of cancer cells." 

About OncoMed Pharmaceuticals 

OncoMed Pharmaceuticals is a clinical-stage company that discovers and develops novel therapeutics targeting cancer stem cells, the cells shown to be capable of driving tumor growth, recurrence and metastasis. OncoMed has advanced four anti-cancer therapeutics into the clinic, anti-DLL4 (demcizumab, OMP-21M18), anti-Notch2/3 (OMP-59R5), anti-Fzd7 (OMP-18R5) and Fzd8-Fc (OMP-54F28), which target key cancer stem cell signaling pathways Notch and Wnt. In addition, OncoMed’s pipeline includes several novel preclinical product candidates targeting multiple validated cancer stem cell pathways, including the RSPO-LGR pathway. OncoMed has formed strategic alliances with Bayer Pharma AG and GlaxoSmithKline. Privately held, OncoMed’s investors include: US Venture Partners, Latterell Venture Partners, The Vertical Group, Morgenthaler Ventures, Phase4Ventures, Delphi Ventures, Adams Street Partners, De Novo Ventures, Bay Partners and GlaxoSmithKline. Additional information can be found at the company’s website:

About the University of Colorado Cancer Center: 

Headquartered on the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, the CU Cancer Center is a consortium of three state universities and six institutions. Together, our more than 440 members are working to ease the cancer burden through cancer care, research, education and prevention and control. 

Additionally, nearly all researchers who participate in cancer-related basic, translational, clinical, population and behavioral research in Colorado are CU Cancer Center members. This statewide inclusiveness of cancer researchers and academic institutions provides great scientific breadth and depth strengthening the CU Cancer Center's research. 

We are committed to transforming cancer research and practice in the state of Colorado by creating an integrated interdisciplinary nexus of clinicians and scientists across our statewide consortium that can leverage, synergize, marshal and focus resources and expertise to discover new ways to prevent and treat cancer.

​Dr. Karin A. Payne to Direct the Regenerative Orthopaedics Laboratory

AURORA, Colorado – July 13, 2012 - The University of Colorado School of Medicine Department of Orthopaedics is pleased to announce the arrival of Karin A. Payne, PhD to its research faculty as of July 1, 2012. Dr. Payne graduated from the University of Montreal with a MS in Bioengineering, received her PhD in Bioengineering from the University of Pittsburgh, and completed her postdoctoral training in articular cartilage tissue engineering in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Payne has over 10 years of multidisciplinary research experience in the areas of stem cell biology, gene therapy and biomaterials for bone and articular cartilage regenerative medicine. She brings to the department exceptional recognized leadership and knowledge, and a history of scientific publications and presentations throughout the United States and abroad.

The addition of Dr. Payne to the Department of Orthopaedics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine will provide additional research and grant opportunities. Dr. Payne will direct the Regenerative Orthopaedics Laboratory (ROL) within the Department of Orthopaedics, whose goal will be to discover new technology for the preparation of regenerative cell-based products for clinical orthopaedic use to improve musculoskeletal health. The initial research taking place in the ROL focuses on optimizing the musculoskeletal regenerative potential of bone marrow stem cells, and also investigates alternative and novel cell sources, such as induced pluripotent stem cells. Dr. Payne will also foster and facilitate basic and translational stem cell-related research projects within the Department of Orthopaedics and with inter-department collaborations by working with members of the Charles C. Gates Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Biology, the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, and Children’s Hospital Colorado.

Nature Medicine Podcast features interview highlighting Gates Center Investigator Xiao-Jing Wang's paper on oral mucositis. Link to Podcast >>

Gates Center Director Dennis R. Roop, PhD honored at FIRST 2012 Testimonial Dinner. 
View Full Article >>

Dennis Roop's Stem Cell Research Gives Hope to EHK Patient

View Full Article >

Stem Cell Blood Research Underway

Watch FOX 31 News Exerpt >>

Anschutz Medical Campus researchers discover new process to cultivate adult blood cells.

Researchers on the Anschutz Medical Campus have discovered a scientific process that could make blood drives a thing of the past.

Yosef Refaeli and Brian Turner, co-founders of Taiga Biotechnologies Inc., have developed a new method in which they use their proprietary blood stem-cell lines from cord blood to generate mature, adult red blood cells in the lab in 14 days.

The blood stem-cell lines are cultured in tissue-culture dishes with a special mixture that supports stem-cell growth and placed in an incubator that aims to mimic conditions in the human body. Typically, the mixture has salts and nutrients that enable cells to grow in a dish. View Denver Post Article >>

Aastrom Announces Collaboration with CPC Clinical Research for the Phase 3 REVIVE Study in Critical Limb Ischemia

ANN ARBOR, Mich., [May 25, 2011] - Aastrom Biosciences, Inc. (Nasdaq: ASTM), a leading developer of patient-specific, expanded multicellular therapies for the treatment of severe, chronic cardiovascular diseases, today announced a collaborative agreement with CPC Clinical Research (CPC), a non-profit, Academic Research Organization led by William Hiatt, M.D. CPC will provide services related to the execution of Aastrom’s Phase 3 REVIVE clinical studies for ixmyelocel-T, the company’s expanded multicellular therapy. View full press release >>

Don Elliman Joins Gates Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Biology

The former chief operating officer for the state of Colorado has joined the Charles C. Gates Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Biology. Don Elliman will serve as the center’s executive director. The center is a world-class research organization focused on adult stem cell biology and regenerative medicine located at the University of Colorado Medical School on the Anschutz Medical Campus. View full Campus News article >>

Don Elliman brings business background to hub of science research in Aurora

Colorado's former economic development chief has landed at the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, where he's bringing his business acumen to the region's scientific mecca. View full Denver Post article >>

Rats' mobility restored in CU spinal-cord study

Support cells strained from human stem cells and transplanted into paralyzed lab rats repair damaged nerve systems remarkably quickly and help the rats walk again, according to CU researchers, who say the experiments could extend to injured humans within two years. View Denver Post article >>

Colorado researcher Li discovers key mechanism for transforming adult cells into stem-like cells

In 2006, Dr. Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University in Japan set the stem cell and regenerative medicine research world on fire when he successfully transformed differentiated mouse skin cells into cells that looked and behave like embryonic stem cells. Embryonic stem cells, the subject of much controversy when used in research, have the ability to differentiate into any type of tissue. Please read the full PDF or follow the Colorado Cancer Blogs post >>

Stem-cell research pushed to top of Congress' agenda

Despite a packed legislative calendar, quashing a recent court ruling that bans federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research has suddenly risen to the top of Congress' pre-election to-do list.

Rep. Diana DeGette of Denver said Democratic leaders in the House are looking favorably on the idea of moving a bill quickly to the floor in time for a vote before Congress recesses Oct. 8. Denver Post >>

CPC Move Creates Partnership with Stem Cell Center at University of Colorado School of Medicine to Help Drive Critical Research

CPC Announcement: Pictured, from left to right, are Dr. Dennis Roop, Dr. William Hiatt and State Senator Morgan Carroll from Aurora

The fight against disease through stem-cell research in Colorado is about to get a big boost Friday (July 23, 2010) at the Anschutz Medical Campus with the arrival of an academic research organization that will be able to manage future clinical trials in this cutting edge area of science. Full Article >> (Also covered in the Denver Business Journal.)

Mile-High Dreams: The Denver area is trying to overcome the isolation factor and meager funding to excel as a bioscience hub.

The recently opened and still-expanding Anschutz campus is one of several attempts to invigorate Denvers life-science enterprise.

On a clear day, researcher Yosef Refaeli can see the distant, white- capped Rocky Mountains from his office window in Aurora, Colorado. Those scenic peaks, he says, were one of the main reasons he came to the Denver area, and to the new Anschutz Medical Campus at the University of Colorado Denver. Another was the adjacent fledgling biotech park. Full Article >>

First-in-nation program focuses on anti-cancer stem cell therapies

Cancer and stem cell biology researchers at the University of Colorado are launching the nations first program focused on identifying and testing drugs that target and destroy cells thought to be at the root of cancercancer stem cells (CSCs). Full Article >> (Also covered in the Denver Post.)

The 2010 Rothman Awardee is Dennis Roop, PhD, Professor of Dermatology and Director of the Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Biology Program

The 2010 Rothman Awardee

The Stephen Rothman Memorial Award is presented annually for distinguished service to investigative cutaneous medicine. The recipient of this award has made major scientific achievements and excelled as a teacher and recruiter of outstanding dermatologists. The recipient is an individual who has distinctly altered the course and image of dermatology or its allied fields. It is the Society's highest award. Full Article >>

The New Health Technology: The face of the bioscience industry is changing rapidly and nowhere more so than in Colorado

Denver Magazine - Jan 2010

CU-AMC boasts specialized centers such as the Charles C. Gates Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Biology Program. Dr. Dennis Roop was recruited to direct the program with the goal of transforming CU into one of the country's premier stem cell research centers. Full Article >>

Regional stem-cell center launched by University of Colorado School of Medicine

A new center at the University of Colorado School of Medicine promises to expand one of the frontiers of medicine stem cell research and treatment. Full Article >> (Also covered in the Denver Business Journal.)

C3: Collaborating to Conquer Cancer - The Root of the Matter

UCCC C3 Newsletter

Do cancer stem cells drive cancer recurrence? And how do you kill them? UCCC scientists are collaborating on crucial studies to find out.   ...full PDF >

Plan to establish a Core facility that will generate mouse and human "induced pluripotent stem" (iPS) cells

The purpose of this message is to find out whether there is sufficient interest within the faculty to support this Core. If you are interested in using Core-provided iPS cells (human or mouse) , please fill out the short survey.

Researchers find safer way to transform skin cells into stem cells

The Denver Post

In a paper released this week in the online version of Stem Cells, University of Colorado Denver?s School of Medicine researchers Wenbo Zhou, PhD, and Curt Freed, MD, have created ?human induced pluripotent stem cells? (iPS cells)?reprogrammed to look and act like embryonic stem cells?from human skin fibroblasts using a common cold virus.   ...more >

Scientists celebrate reversal of policy

The Denver Post

Stem-cell researcher Dr. Dennis Roop was teaching a class on bioethics Monday morning when he glanced at his watch ? the next 15 minutes, he told his medical students, would revitalize science.   ...more >

Stem Cell Research ? KWGN News


KWGN2 News interviewed Stem-cell researcher Dr. Dennis Roop after the announcement of the reversal of the stem cell research policy.
-March 10, 2009   ...more >

Rep. DeGette Pursues New Stem-Cell Legislation


Colorado Democratic congresswoman Diana DeGette plans to meet with party leaders in the House to discuss her bill that would put into law a new executive order allowing federal funding for stem cell research.   ...more >

Great potential forecast ? Hopes are alive that policy leads to cures.

The Pueblo Chieftain

Dr. Curt Freed, professor and director of clinical pharmacology in the medical school at the University of Colorado Denver, said his research continued throughout the Bush ban because the project, started in 2002, isn't federally funded and didn't involve any of the stem cell lines listed in former President George W. Bush's ban.   ...more >