Human stem cell research offers great potential as the foundation for development of novel therapeutics, particularly those aimed at chronic and degenerative diseases. IHV researcher Dr. Suzanne Gartner, along with lab members Drs. Yiling Liu and Senthilkumar Natesan, has discovered a previously unknown human cell with stem cell-like properties that include self-renewal, and the ability to generate different types of cells. This multi-lineage potential has also been demonstrated in vivo following inoculation of immune compromised mice with these human cells. The novel cell can be derived from a blood specimen, which makes it a particularly attractive candidate for cell-based therapies. Current areas of investigation include assessment of these human stem-like cells for their ability to (1) generate cells of the hematopoietic lineage (white blood cells), (2) generate insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells and reverse hyperglycemia in diabetic mice, (3) differentiate into functional neurons and/or other cells that populate the brain and (4) serve as targets for infection, replication and persistence following exposure to known viruses. Stem cell biology at the IHV also includes cancer stem cell research. Dr. Mikulas Popovic heads an effort focused on cancer stem cells in the setting of adenocarcinoma of the lung in nonsmokers. He has established permanent cell lines from lung cancer patient specimens that produce tumors in mice. Subpopulations of these cells express markers that define cancer stem cells. Further characterization of these subpopulations is ongoing, with particular emphasis on their relative susceptibility to chemotherapeutic agents and immune cell-mediated killing. IHV scientist Dr. Joseph Bryant, Director of the Animal Models Division, is an active participant in this research.