Steven L. Stice, Ph.D.
The University of Georgia
Steve Stice looks at the cells in his lab and imagines a hundred possible uses for them: repairing damaged tissue, detecting dangerous substances and creating disease-resistant animals, just to name a few.
The pluripotent stem cells he works with have the potential to become any type of cell in the body. And that’s what makes them so valuable.
Sometimes, their use can be straightforward, as in an invention he calls “fracture putty,” a mix of stem cells and bone marrow that stimulates rapid bone growth, with the promise of healing broken bones in weeks instead of months.
In other cases, the cells are modified to suit a purpose, as in Stice’s current research to breed chickens resistant to Newcastle virus. This highly contagious disease has devastating economic impact in sub-Saharan Africa, where it kills about one-fourth of the chickens each year, sometimes wiping out entire flocks. Stice’s work in Newcastle is backed by a $1.6 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The studies Stice conducts use federally approved embryonic stem cells as well as induced pluripotent stem cells, which taken from adults and reprogrammed to an embryonic-stem-cell-like state.
Stice has founded three Georgia companies that market the stem cell technologies developed in his lab. Among them is ArunA Biomedical, the first company to commercialize a product derived from embryonic stem cells. ArunA has developed stem cells into functioning neural cells, which can be used to test treatments for Alzheimer’s disease. The company also is working with the U.S. Navy to see if the neural cells can be used to detect environmental toxins.
Stice produced the world’s first cloned rabbit and was the first scientist to clone bovine embryos from stem cells. He also was awarded the world’s first patent for therapeutic cloning from adult cells.
- Using stem cells to create new treatments for degenerative diseases such Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Multiple Sclerosis, as well as neural injuries, spinal cord injuries and head trauma
- Treating cardiovascular diseases (heart and blood vessel repair) through stem cell technologies
- Applying animal stem cell and cloning techniques to advance animal agriculture, veterinary medicine and biomedicine
When GRA made a recruiting trip to visit Stice at the University of Massachusetts, they offered him the chance to continue his academic research and start a new bioscience company.