Scientists identify gene vital for rebuilding intestine after cancer treatment

July 30, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

The stem cells in our gut divide so fast that they create a completely new population of epithelial cells every week. But this quick division is also why radiation and chemotherapy wreak havoc on the gastrointestinal systems of cancer patients – such therapies target rapidly dividing cells. Scientists at the UNC School of Medicine and the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center found that a rare type of stem cell is immune to radiation damage thanks to high levels of a gene called Sox9.

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New advancements in 3-D designs for neural tissue engineering

April 6, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

It is well known that neurological diseases and injuries pose some of the greatest challenges in modern medicine, with few if any options for effectively treating such diagnoses, but recent work suggests a unique approach for reconstructing damaged neural tissue. In an article published in the journal Neural Regeneration Research, several new designs for 3D tissue constructs are described for using stem cells grown on nanofiber scaffolding within a supportive hydrogel.

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Identifying the source of stem cells

October 30, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

When most animals begin life, cells immediately begin accepting assignments to become a head, tail or a vital organ. However, mammals, including humans, are special. The cells of mammalian embryos get to make a different first choice – to become the protective placenta or to commit to forming the baby.

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Stem cells reveal how illness-linked genetic variation affects neurons

August 17, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

A genetic variation linked to schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and severe depression wreaks havoc on connections among neurons in the developing brain, a team of researchers reports. The study, led by Guo-li Ming, M.D., Ph.D., and Hongjun Song, Ph.D., of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and described online Aug. 17 in the journal Nature, used stem cells generated from people with and without mental illness to observe the effects of a rare and pernicious genetic variation on young brain cells. The results add to evidence that several major mental illnesses have common roots in faulty “wiring” during early brain development.

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Stem cell therapy for central nerve system injuries: Glial cells hold the key

August 13, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Mammalian adult central nerve system (CNS) injuries are devastating because of the intrinsic difficulties for effective neuronal regeneration. The greatest problem to be overcome for CNS recovery is the poor regeneration of neurons and myelin-forming cells, oligodendrocytes. Endogenous neural progenitors and transplanted exogenous neuronal stem cells can be the source for neuronal regeneration. However, because of the harsh local microenvironment, they usually have very low efficacy for functional neural regeneration which cannot compensate for the loss of neurons and oligodendrocytes. Glial cells (including astrocytes, microglia, oligodendrocytes and NG2 glia) are the majority of cells in CNS that provide support and protection for neurons. Inside the local microenvironment, glial cells largely influence local and transplanted neural stem cells survival and fates. This review critically analyzes current finding of the roles of glial cells in CNS regeneration, and highlights strategies for regulating glial cells’ behavior to create a permissive microenvironment for neuronal stem cells. The Perspectives paper published in Neural Regeneration Research (Vol. 9, No. 13, 2014).

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Pushing cells towards a higher pluripotency state

June 24, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Stem cells have the unique ability to become any type of cell in the body. Given this, the possibility that they can be cultured and engineered in the laboratory makes them an attractive option for regenerative medicine. However, some conditions that are commonly used for culturing human stem cells have the potential to introduce contaminants, thus rendering the cells unusable for clinical use. These conditions cannot be avoided, however, as they help maintain the pluripotency of the stem cells.

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Viral ‘parasites’ may play a key role in the maintenance of cell pluripotency

April 28, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

In a study published in Nature Genetics, scientists from the RIKEN Center for Life Science Technologies in Japan, in collaboration with the RIKEN Center for Integrative Medical Sciences, the University of Copenhagen and the Joint Genome Institute (Walnut Creek, California) have discovered that “jumping DNA” known as retrotransposons—viral elements incorporated into the human genome—may play a key role in the maintenance of pluripotency, the ability of stem cells to differentiate into many different types of body cells.

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New stem cell method may eliminate need for blood donations to maintain platelet supply

February 14, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Platelets, whose primary function is to prevent bleeding, are vital for treating various forms of trauma and blood diseases. However, they can only be obtained through blood donations at present. Researchers reporting online February 13 in the Cell Press journal Cell Stem Cell recently found a way to create platelets without the need for donated blood, an advance that could possibly erase supply shortages and ensure platelet treatments for all who need them.

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Scientists coax brain to regenerate cells lost in Huntington’s disease

June 7, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Researchers have been able to mobilize the brain’s native stem cells to replenish a type of neuron lost in Huntington’s disease. In the study, which appears today in the journal Cell Stem Cell, the scientists were able to both trigger the production of new neurons in mice with the disease and show that the new cells successfully integrated into the brain’s existing neural networks, dramatically extending the survival of the treated mice.

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1 of the key circuits in regulating genes involved in producing blood stem cells is deciphered

January 31, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Researchers from the group on stem cells and cancer at IMIM (Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute) have deciphered one of the gene regulation circuits which would make it possible to generate hematopoietic blood cells, i.e. blood tissue stem cells. This finding is essential to generate these cells in a laboratory in the future, a therapy that could benefit patients with leukaemia or other diseases who need a transplant and who, in many cases, do not have a compatible donor.

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