April 18, 2014
Scientists Make First Embryo Clone from Adults
(The Wall Street Journal) – Scientists for the first time have cloned cells from two adults to create early-stage embryos, and then derived tissue from those embryos that perfectly matched the DNA of the donors. The experiment represents another advance in the quest to make tissue in the laboratory that could treat a range of maladies, from heart attacks to Alzheimer’s. The study, involving a 35-year-old man and one age 75, was published Thursday in the journal Cell Stem Cell.
April 17, 2014
Modified Stem Cells May Offer Way to Treat Alzheimer’s Disease
(Medical News Today) – A new study suggests genetically modified stem cells may offer a new way to treat Alzheimer’s disease. When implanted in mice bred to have symptoms and brain hallmarks of Alzheimer’s, they increased connections between brain cells and reduced the amyloid-beta protein that accumulates to form plaques that clog up the brain.
Stem-Cell Treatment for Blindness Moving through Patient Testing
(MIT Technology Review) – A new treatment for macular degeneration is close to the next stage of human testing—a noteworthy event not just for the millions of patients it could help, but for its potential to become the first therapy based on embryonic stem cells. This year, the Boston-area company Advanced Cell Technology plans to move its stem-cell treatment for two forms of vision loss into advanced human trials. The company has already reported that the treatment is, although a full report of the results from the early, safety-focused testing has yet to be published. The planned trials will test whether it is effective.
April 16, 2014
Researchers Transplant Regenerated Oesophagus
(Medical News Today) – The new method has been developed by researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, within an international collaboration lead by Professor Paolo Macchiarini. The technique to grow human tissues and organs, so called tissue engineering, has been employed so far to produce urinary bladder, trachea and blood vessels, which have also been used clinically. However, despite several attempts, it has been proven difficult to grow tissue to replace a damaged oesophagus.
Biologist Defiant over Stem-Cell Method
(Nature) – The lead author of two hotly debated stem-cell papers made a tearful plea for forgiveness last week after her employer found her guilty of misconduct. Haruko Obokata, a researcher at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology (CDB) in Kobe, Japan, struggled to answer questions about errors in the papers, which described how simple stressors such as acid or pressure could reprogram mature cells into an embryonic-like state. But that did not stop her from insisting that the reports were not fraudulent and that the phenomenon described in them is real.
April 15, 2014
Could Silly Putty Help Treat Neurological Disorders?
(Medical News Today) – It seems unlikely that Silly Putty – a children’s moulding toy – could prove useful in the medical world. But new research from the University of Michigan suggests that a key ingredient used in Silly Putty can turn embryonic stem cells into working spinal cord cells more efficiently. The research team, including Jianping Fu, professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan (U-M), says their findings may lead to new treatments for neurological disorders, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease), Huntington’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease.
April 14, 2014
Phase 1 Trial for ALS Results of Novel Stem-Cell Therapy Presented by Neuralstem Representative
(Bio News Texas) – Neuralstem, a company that specializes in producing commercial quantities of neural stem cells of the brain and spinal cord, publicly presented the findings of their Phase 1 clinical trial involving amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) at the Keystone Symposia “Engineering Cell Fate and Function,” occurring April 6-11 in Olympic Valley, California. Results were published in Annals of Neurology in mid-March, but principal investigator Eva Feldman, PhD, MD, discussed the results of Neuralstem’s NSI-566 stem cell trial in ALS during a workshop on “Clinical Progress for Stem Cell Therapies” at the symposia.
Stem Cells Seen as Promising in Lupus
(Med Page Today) – Mesenchymal stem cell transplantation is showing promise as a treatment for refractory systemic lupus erythematosus, researchers have reported. In a multicenter study conducted in China that included 40 patients who had persistent disease despite aggressive treatment with cyclophosphamide, mycophenolate mofetil, leflunomide, and/or high-dose steroids, 60% of those given umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells had a major or partial clinical response during a year of follow-up, according to Lingyun Sun, MD, of Nanjing University Medical School, and colleagues.
Former NIH Stem-Cell Chief Joins New York Foundation
(Nature) – Stem-cell biologist Mahendra Rao, who resigned last week as director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine (CRM) at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), has a new job. On 9 April, he was appointed vice-president for regenerative medicine at the New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF), a non-profit organization that funds embryonic stem-cell research.
Harvard Investigation Leads to ‘Expression of Concern’ on Brigham-Led Stem Cell Research
(Boston.com) – Two days after a heart research paper was retracted, questions have been raised about a stem cell study overseen by the same prominent Brigham and Women’s Hospital cardiovascular researcher. In an “expression of concern” posted online Thursday night, editors of the British medical journal The Lancet said Harvard Medical School had notified them of an ongoing investigation examining the “integrity of certain data” used in two sets of images of cells in a 2011 paper overseen by Dr. Piero Anversa at the Brigham.
April 11, 2014
Researchers Identify Transcription Factors Distinguishing Glioblastoma Stem Cells
(Medical Xpress) – The activity of four transcription factors – proteins that regulate the expression of other genes – appears to distinguish the small proportion of glioblastoma cells responsible for the aggressiveness and treatment resistance of the deadly brain tumor. The findings by a team of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigators, which will be published in the April 24 issue of Cell and are receiving advance online release, support the importance of epigenetics – processes controlling whether or not genes are expressed – in cancer pathology and identify molecular circuits that may be targeted by new therapeutic approaches.
April 10, 2014
Bone Marrow Stem Cells Show Promise in Stroke Treatment
(Medical Xpress) – Stem cells culled from bone marrow may prove beneficial in stroke recovery, scientists at UC Irvine’s Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center have learned. In an analysis of published research, neurologist Dr. Steven Cramer and biomedical engineer Weian Zhao identified 46 studies that examined the use of mesenchymal stromal cells – a type of multipotent adult stem cells mostly processed from bone marrow – in animal models of stroke. They found MSCs to be significantly better than control therapy in 44 of the studies.
April 9, 2014
Acid-Bath Stem Cell Scientist Apologizes and Appeals
(Nature) – Haruko Obokata, the Japanese scientist at the centre of a controversy over studies purporting to turn mature cells to stem cells simply by bathing them in acid or subjecting them to mechanical stress, today apologized for her errors in the work. Kicking off a press conference in Osaka amid a storm of snapping cameras and flanked by two lawyers, Obokata blamed her immaturity and her lack of awareness of research protocols for the errors that were found in her two high-profile papers on the studies, published in Nature in January (Note: Nature’s news and comment teams are editorially independent of its research editorial team). These included the use of a duplicated image.
April 8, 2014
NIH Stem-Cell Programme Closes
(Nature) – Stem-cell researchers at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) have been left frustrated and confused following the demise of the agency’s Center for Regenerative Medicine (CRM). The intramural programme’s director, stem-cell biologist Mahendra Rao, left the NIH, in Bethesda, Maryland, on 28 March, and the centre’s website was taken down on 4 April. Although no official announcement had been made at the time Nature went to press, NIH officials say that they are rethinking how they will conduct in-house stem-cell research.
UK Scientists Make Body Parts in Lab
(Associated Press) – In a north London hospital, scientists are growing noses, ears and blood vessels in the laboratory in a bold attempt to make body parts using stem cells. It is among several labs around the world, including in the U.S., that are working on the futuristic idea of growing custom-made organs in the lab. While only a handful of patients have received the British lab-made organs so far- including tear ducts, blood vessels and windpipes – researchers hope they will soon be able to transplant more types of body parts into patients, including what would be the world’s first nose made partly from stem cells.
Scientists Progress in Quest to Grow Muscle Tissues in Labs
(The Wall Street Journal) – Duke University researchers and other scientists are making strides in growing muscle in the lab that not only repairs itself but exhibits strength similar to that of normal muscle. Using lab-grown muscle could one day help people with certain muscle injuries, including accident victims with big gashes that lead to significant scar tissue. Engineering muscle that works like natural tissue could also accelerate the testing of new drugs: Scientists could use this tissue in place of animals.
April 7, 2014
Additional Factors Improve Stem Cell Generation
(Nanowerk) – Induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells are created by ‘reprogramming’ specialized adult cells into embryonic stem-like cells. Although a remarkable process, the procedure remains slow and inefficient, involving induced expression of four specific protein factors found at high levels in embryonic stem cells. By adding two further proteins found in unfertilized egg cells, or oocytes, to this standard recipe of reprogramming factors, a collaborative team of researchers led by Shunsuke Ishii and colleagues from the Molecular Genetics Laboratory at the RIKEN Tsukuba Institute have now discovered a way to generate iPS cells with increased speed and efficiency.
Stem Cell Injections Revive Failing Heart
(Med Page Today) – Patients with severe ischemic heart failure had improvements in heart function following injection of mesenchymal stem cells directly into the left ventricle, a small, phase II trial showed. Within 6 months, multiple measures improved with injections of stem cells versus placebo, including end-systolic volume, left ventricular ejection fraction, stroke volume, and myocardial mass (P<0.05 for all), according to Anders Bruun Mathiasen, MD, of Rigshospitalet-Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark.
April 4, 2014
Scientist Quit Effort to Live Blog STAP Cell Regulation
(Science) – A scientist who has been trying to reproduce STAP cells–a new type of stem cells–and regularly blogging about his progress has given up. “I don’t think STAP cells exist and it will be a waste of manpower and research funding to carry on with this experiment any further,” Kenneth Ka-Ho Lee, an embryologist and stem cell researcher at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, wrote on his ResearchGate page yesterday. Though he is giving up, he hopes others will continue to investigate whether the new approach – which has dogged by controversy and claims of research misconduct — can really lead to stem cells.
April 3, 2014
Compelling Evidence that Very Small Embryonic-like Stem Cells from Human Adult Tissues Are Multipotent
(Medical News Today) – Rare, very small embryonic-like stem cells (VSELs) isolated from human adult tissues could provide a new source for developing regenerative therapies to repair complex tissues damaged by disease or trauma. The ability of these most-primitive, multipotent stem cells to differentiate into bone, neurons, connective tissue, and other cell types, and the proper criteria for identifying and isolating VSELs, are described in two articles in Stem Cells and Development, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The articles are available on the Stem Cells and Development website.
New Hope for Embattled STAP Cell Researchers?
(Los Angeles Times) – Just hours after Japanese investigators announced findings of fabrication and misconduct in a highly criticized “acid bath” stem cell study, scientists in Hong Kong said they had partly succeeded in reproducing the controversial experiment, but without acid.