Scientific Program

Day 1

Session 1: Cell Biology | Cellular and Gene Therapy | Regenerative Medicine | Cancer Cell Biology
  • Targeting QKI-7 in vivo Restores Endothelial Cell Function in Diabetes
    Dr Andriana Margariti
    Queen's University Belfast
    United Kingdom

    Dr Margariti has developed significant expertise in stem cell biology, with particular emphasis on cell reprogramming, chromatin remodelling, cell signalling and endothelial cell biology. She had received her postdoctoral training in the Cardiovascular Division of the BHF Centre of Excellence at King’s College London (KCL). Dr Margariti’s laboratory has invested on their robust expertise on cell reprogramming and induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell technologies and they have developed patient- specific cells lines from diabetic donors (patient specific iPS cell lines in a petri dish) based on fast and highly efficient approaches. Dr Margariti has been promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2017 and she is leading the iPS cells facilities in QUB, where iPS cells are generated and differentiated towards vascular cells (including ECs, Smooth Muscle Cells and Pericytes) and human blood vessel organoids, Cardiomyocyes, Neurons, Retina pigment epithelial cells and many other cell types.


    Diabetes has become a major health problem worldwide. Vascular endothelial cell (EC) dysfunction plays a key role in the occurrence of diabetic complications. The current study discovered significant upregulation of Quaking 7 (QKI-7), in induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell-derived ECs (iPS-ECs) when exposed to hyperglycemia, and in human iPS-ECs from diabetic patients. QKI-7 was also found to be highly expressed in human coronary arterial ECs isolated from diabetic donors, while immunohistochemical staining on blood vessels obtained from diabetic critical limb ischemia patients undergoing a lower limb amputation, QKI-7 expression was detected. QKI-7 expression was found to be tightly controlled by RNA splicing factors CUG-BP and hnRNPM under diabetic conditions. QKI-7 upregulation was correlated with disrupted cell barrier, compromised angiogenesis and enhanced monocyte adhesion in diabetic iPS-ECs. RNA immunoprecipitation (RIP) and mRNA decay assays revealed that QKI-7 bound and promoted mRNA degradation of downstream targets CD144, Neuroligin 1 (NLGN1) and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-?–stimulated gene/protein 6 (TSG-6). Remarkably, when hindlimb ischemia was induced in diabetic mice and QKI-7 was knockdown in vivo in ECs, reperfusion and blood flow recovery were markedly promoted. Manipulation of QKI-7 represents a novel strategy for the treatment of diabetic vascular complications.

  • Injectable Amniotic Membrane/Umbilical Cord Particulate for Knee Osteoarthritis: A Prospective, Single-Center Pilot Study
    Dr. Ramon Castellanos
    USA StemCell Clinic

    Dr. Castellanos set of medical credentials include Board Certified by the American Academy of Medical Specialties in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. Interventional Pain Management. Assistant Professor of Neurological Science at Florida International University. Dr. Castellanos" extensive training and education were attained from top-ranking universities including University of South Florida College of Medicine - 2002 State University of New York -Health Science Center at Stony Brook - 2001 Cornell University Medical College NY Hospital - 1998 Institute of Superior Medical Science of Havana - 1987 In addition, Dr. Castellanos has developed several highly specialized products, tools and even patented technique (called Prometheus ®) to help him be at the forefront in his medical practice


    To evaluate the short-term safety and effectiveness of amniotic membrane/umbilical cord particulate (AMUC) in managing pain in patients with various severities of knee osteoarthritis (OA). Design. Single-center, prospective, investigator-initiated pilot study. Setting. Private practice. Subjects. A total of 20 knee OA patients aged 18 years were enrolled with pain >40 mm, as determined by the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC)–A. Methods. Patients received an ultrasound-guided, intra-articular injection of 50 mg of AMUC particulate reconstituted in 2 mL of preservative-free saline. All patients were then monitored at six weeks, 12 weeks, and 24 weeks postinjection. Patients who did not show >30% reduction in pain received a second injection of AMUC at six weeks. WOMAC, Patient Global Assessment, medication usage, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) were assessed. Results. Knee OA pain significantly decreased from 74.3 6 17.2 at baseline to 45.0 6 25.4 at six weeks (P < 0.01), 35.4 6 26.6 at 12 weeks (P < 0.001), and 37.4 6 26.7 at 24 weeks (P < 0.001). This pain reduction was associated with a significant improvement in physical function (WOMAC-C) at all time points (P < 0.05) and stiffness (WOMAC-B) at 12 weeks (P ¼ 0.01). Eleven patients received a second injection, which was significantly correlated with body mass index >30 kg/m2 (P ¼ 0.025). MRI evaluation of the overall population revealed an improvement in the severity of bone marrow lesions in seven patients. No adverse events were observed. Conclusions. AMUC particulate injection relieved pain and improved physical function in patients with symptomatic knee OA.

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