Learning about the Potential of Stem Cells? There’s an App for that.

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Say hello to Reggie

Staying informed about stem cell research is an important but daunting task. With all of the scientific lingo, the hundreds of websites, and the multitude of diseases related to stem cell research, it’s a perfect storm of information overload. For our readers who feel swept up in those waves at times (or most of the time!), say hello to Reggie, a new, free, smart phone app that cuts through all that to provide some basic information about the potential of stem cells.

Reggie was launched in March and is the brainchild of CellCAN, a network of Canadian researchers who work in regenerative medicine and cellular therapy. The Canadian Stem Cell Foundation also collaborated on the project. Why the name Reggie? It turns out the CellCAN’s CEO Denis Claude Roy came up with the idea. I reached out to COO Vanessa Laflamme who gave me the backstory:

We were looking for an easy to remember name related to cell therapy and regenerative medicine – that’s when Reggie (for regenerative) came to mind! Hopefully, Reggie will be one day associated with regenerative medicine and cell therapy as much as ‘’Oscar’’ is associated with every skeleton in medical schools!

As the creators mention on the About Reggie page, the app isn’t an extensive encyclopedia of all that there is to know about stem cells. Instead, it takes a “keep it simple” approach with a list of essential terms and brief summaries on the status of stem cell-based therapies for a number of diseases.

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The Interactive Body feature on the Reggie app

All the information is easy to access with an intuitive interface. The brief disease summaries, for instance, are searchable from an alphabetical list of illnesses or from a fun Interactive Body feature – tap on, let’s say, Reggie’s head and you’ll get overviews of stem cell research related to autism, cerebral palsy, deafness, Parkinson’s disease and stroke. Each summary answers the same four questions so you know what particulars to expect for each disease: What are scientists hoping stem cells can do? Are there stem cell treatments for the disease? Are clinical trials currently underway? When might a stem cell therapy be available?

Since the Reggie app is literally in your back pocket, I imagine it will be really handy for patient advocates and others who attend outreach events and find themselves needing to answer basic questions about the stem cell field. And for students and others who are just starting to learn about stem cell research, it’s a great jumping off point. As the creators mention in the app, they hope Reggie encourages people to seek out more information:

“The reader is invited to learn more by consulting other sources of information on the Web or by speaking to a doctor”.

Here’s the spot where I shamelessly plug our website and blog as great sources for finding that additional information about the exciting potential of stem cells to treat people with unmet medical needs!

CellCAN has big plans for Reggie in the near future. Laflamme gave me a sneak preview of what to expect:

We plan on launching a “Reggie 2.0” by the end of 2016. The point of Reggie is really to engage with the public, so a crowdsourcing campaign is planned for this summer in order to obtain information about what people would like to learn about with Reggie. And a little scoop: a stem cell trivia will be included in the 2.0 version of Reggie! Also, stay tuned, as Reggie might soon be available in more languages!

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