Scientists pinpoint molecule that switches on stem cell genes

March 22, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Stem cells can have a strong sense of identity. Taken out of their home in the hair follicle, for example, and grown in culture, these cells remain true to themselves. After waiting in limbo, these cultured cells become capable of regenerating follicles and other skin structures once transplanted back into skin. It’s not clear just how these stem cells — and others elsewhere in the body — retain their ability to produce new tissue and heal wounds, even under extraordinary conditions.

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Matrix stiffness is an essential tool in stem cell differentiation

August 11, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Bioengineers at the University of California, San Diego have proven that when it comes to guiding stem cells into a specific cell type, the stiffness of the extracellular matrix used to culture them really does matter. When placed in a dish of a very stiff material, or hydrogel, most stem cells become bone-like cells. By comparison, soft materials tend to steer stem cells into soft tissues such as neurons and fat cells. The research team, led by bioengineering professor Adam Engler, also found that a protein binding the stem cell to the hydrogel is not a factor in the differentiation of the stem cell as previously suggested. The protein layer is merely an adhesive, the team reported Aug. 10 in the advance online edition of the journal Nature Materials.

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Patient-specific stem cells and personalized gene therapy

July 10, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) researchers have created a way to develop personalized gene therapies for patients with retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a leading cause of vision loss. The approach, the first of its kind, takes advantage of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell technology to transform skin cells into retinal cells, which are then used as a patient-specific model for disease study and preclinical testing.

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New finding points to potential options for attacking stem cells in triple-negative breast cancer

February 20, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

New research from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center and Georgia Regents University finds that a protein that fuels an inflammatory pathway does not turn off in breast cancer, resulting in an increase in cancer stem cells. This provides a potential target for treating triple negative breast cancer, the most aggressive form of the disease.

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Protein switch dictates cellular fate: stem cell or neuron

February 14, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have discovered that a well-known protein has a new function: It acts in a biological circuit to determine whether an immature neural cell remains in a stem-like state or proceeds to become a functional neuron.

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Cedars-Sinai researchers target cancer stem cells in malignant brain tumors

January 6, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Researchers at the Cedars-Sinai Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute and Department of Neurosurgery identified immune system targets on cancer stem cells – cells from which malignant brain tumors are believed to originate and regenerate – and created an experimental vaccine to attack them.

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Gene and stem cell therapy combination could aid wound healing

October 10, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Johns Hopkins researchers, working with elderly mice, have determined that combining gene therapy with an extra boost of the same stem cells the body already uses to repair itself leads to faster healing of burns and greater blood flow to the site of the wound.

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Penn study reveals protein that protects nucleus also regulates stem cell differentiation

September 2, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The human body has hundreds of different cell types, all with the same basic DNA, and all of which can ultimately be traced back to identical stem cells. Despite this fundamental similarity, a bone cell has little in common with a brain cell when it comes to appearance or function. The fact that bone is rigid and mechanically distinct from soft fat or brain had been speculated to play some role in differentiation to new cells in those parts of the body, but mechanisms have been unclear.

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Mayo Clinic researchers discover that stem cell senescence drives aging

April 19, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Declining levels of the protein BubR1 occur when both people and animals age, and contribute to cell senescence or deterioration, weight loss, muscle wasting and cataracts. Mayo Clinic researchers have shown that adult progenitor or stem cells — important for repair and regeneration of skeletal muscle and maintenance of healthy fat tissue — are subject to cellular senescence, and that clearance of these cells limits age-related deterioration of these tissues. The findings appear today online in the journal Cell Reports.

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Key protein revealed as trigger for stem cell development

February 7, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

A natural trigger that enables stem cells to become any cell-type in the body has been discovered by scientists.

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