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URMC Opens Stem Cell Facility

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Rochester: URMC Opens Stem Cell Facility
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It's a first in the medical field in Upstate New York; the University of Rochester's new stem cell facility.

In a basement lab at the University of Rochester, the work is truly groundbreaking.

"The speed at which stem cell medicine is moving now is astonishing," said Mark Noble, director of the University of Rochester Stem Cell Institute.

It's called the Upstate Stem Cell cGMP Facility. It's a lab located at the U of R which serves stem cell research across Upstate New York.

"Stem cell medicine offers us the greatest chance we have right now significantly bend the health care curves in a very serious manner," Noble said.

Work done here lays the groundwork for experimental stem cell therapies involving everything from spinal cord injuries and MS, to Parkinson's disease and even cancer.

"In order to do that, you have to be able to grow human cells in a way so that they are pathogen free, very safe to use," Noble said.

The lab setting is a controlled environment.

"We have procedures in place that define virtually our every move in this facility," said Mike Fiske, executive director of the cGMP Facility.

Everything is clean.

"It's very rigorous. A very rigorous environment to work in."

And everyone, and everything, that goes into the lab must be sterile, due to the critical work done here.

"What sets this facility apart from a normal research laboratory is that we actually manufacture cell products here that will actually go into humans in clinical trial settings," Fiske said.

Stem cell research is currently going on in 40 labs at the URMC. The work is well funded, to the tune of about $80 million in research spending.

U of R scientists have played a major role over the past three decades in unlocking the potential of stem cells to treat injuries and disease.

"We're talking about opportunities that change outcomes for individuals with afflictions that are not only very serious for them and their families but are economically very costly," said Noble.

In a field that's already grown enormously in a short period of time, the lab's work could take stem cell research to a new level.

"This is wonderful, it's amazing and it's going faster all the time," Noble said.

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