Stem Cells, Regenerative Medicine and Cancer

One of the greatest challenges of the 21st century is disease associated with ageing. Cancer, neurodegeneration and heart disease are all major causes of death and have an enormous impact on quality of life.

Over recent years, a revolution in biology has meant that effective regenerative medicine, using stem cells to replace and repair damaged tissue is now on the horizon. Naturally occurring ‘immortal’ stem cells are present in all tissues of the body and act to replace loss of cells in tissues with rapid turnover, for example in the skin, blood or intestine, or to repair damage as in wound healing.

Harnessing the power of stem cells to regenerate damaged tissue in a range of diseases, or to generate tissue for organ repair following radical surgery, is a key goal. Yet how we can effectively manipulate stem cells for therapeutic use, and how we ensure their survival, for example after transplantation, remain major challenges.

The identification of physiological stem cells that regenerate tissues led to the discovery of stem-like cells in cancer. Cancer stem cells are resistant to therapy and provide a reservoir of cells able to regenerate tumours with their associated genetic heterogeneity, even many years after apparently successful therapy. Understanding the origins of cancer stem cells, how they are activated, and how they can be eradicated are key goals that must be met if we are to develop effective anti-cancer therapies.

The Oxford Stem Cell and Cancer Institute (OSCI) was established in 2008 with funding from the Oxford Martin School. The OSCI comprises over core and affiliated 40 laboratories across Oxford and recognizes that the development of more effective stem cell and anti-cancer therapies would benefit from cross-disciplinary research that breaks the traditional taxonomic barriers boundaries between cancer, development and regenerative medicine.


Stem Cells: A pathway through the maze - December 9-11, 2015

Department for Continuing Education

This course is intended to dispel the myths behind stem cell biology and introduce delegates to the science behind the headlines, the pitfalls as well as the promises.

Bringing together eighteen leading experts in the field to explore this cutting-edge technology, this course is designed for those who have little prior knowledge or understanding of stem cells, so as to provide as broad an overview of the subject as possible.

This will include not only the science underlying the subject, but also related issues such as the ethics and regulatory infrastructure and commercialisation of regenerative medicine.

Sir Richard Gardner Lecture - Friday November 6th, 2015

MSTC Lecture theatre, 4PM

Professor Azim Surani, The Gurdon Intsitute, Cambridge.

"Specification of human primordial germ cells and epigenetic programming for totipotency and development”

The Sir Richard Gardner celebratory lecture has become one of the annual highlights of the Oxford Stem Cell Institute and has attracted many excellent speakers in the past, including two Nobel Prize Laureates, Sir John Gurdon, and Sir Martin Evans, as well as others such as Hans Clevers, Konrad Hochedlinger, Fred Gage and Fiona Watt, all of whom are highly accomplished in their respective fields of stem cell research. The lecture normally attracts a capacity audience from across the University and provides opportunities for networking afterwards over wine and canapés.