March 10, 2014
Japanese researcher backtracks on ‘breakthrough’ STAP cell research
(Reuters) – A Japanese scientist called on Monday for withdrawing stem-cell research he had been involved in that had appeared to promise a new era of medical biology as doubts have arisen over the results. The research, described as game-changing by experts at the time, was covered breathlessly in Japan after it was published in the journal Nature, with co-researcher Haruko Obokata becoming an instant celebrity.
Stem cell study opens door to undiscovered world of biology
(Phys.org) – For the first time, researchers have shown that an essential biological process known as protein synthesis can be studied in adult stem cells – something scientists have long struggled to accomplish. The groundbreaking findings from the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern (CRI) also demonstrate that the precise amount of protein produced by blood-forming stem cells is crucial to their function.
Banked, but cord blood is rare call
(Sydney Morning Herald) – Australian parents are paying thousands of dollars to store their babies’ umbilical cord blood with private operators – but only a few families have ever used it. Six out of about 30,000 people who banked cord blood privately in the past decade have accessed it, Mark Kirkland, medical director of private bank Cell Care, said. The head of the Australian Medical Association, Steve Hambleton, said he was concerned that parents are being ”oversold” on the merits of storage, which can cost up to $3000, and misled into spending money that is unlikely to have any benefit.
Chicago hospital evaluates stem-cell therapy for pain
(CBS Local) – Is it the future of pain relief, the end of pain pills, physical therapy and knee or hip replacements? CBS 2’s Mary Kay Kleist looks at a new procedure offered at only a handful of places. It’s still a bit controversial. But some doctors and their patients swear by it. Linda Morning-Starpoole suffered terrible knee pain, the result of sports injuries when she was younger. Traditional treatment might involve steroid injections, physical therapy and joint replacement. But she wanted an alternative.
Movement in the womb sparks specific genes to build a healthy skeleton
(Phys.org) – Zoologists and bioengineers from Trinity College Dublin have identified over 1,000 genes whose responses change markedly when embryos are not able to move freely in the womb. The discovery will help scientists better understand how important tissues are programmed to develop in our bodies, which could in turn suggest how stem cells can be primed for use in tissue engineering and regenerative therapies.
March 7, 2014
Establishing standards where none exist: Researchers define ‘good’ stem cells
(Phys.org) – But what makes a “good” stem cell, one that can reliably be used in drug development, and for disease study? Researchers have made enormous strides in understanding the process of cellular reprogramming, and how and why stem cells commit to becoming various types of adult cells. But until now, there have been no standards, no criteria, by which to test these ubiquitous cells for their ability to faithfully adopt characteristics that make them suitable substitutes for patients for drug testing. And the need for such quality control standards becomes ever more critical as industry looks toward manufacturing products and treatments using stem cells.
March 6, 2014
New findings on neurogenesis in the spinal cord
(Medical News Today) – Research from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden suggests that the expression of the so called MYC gene is important and necessary for neurogenesis in the spinal cord. The findings are being published in the journal EMBO Reports. The MYC gene encodes the protein with the same name, and has an important role in many cellular processes such as proliferation, metabolism, cell death and the potential of differentiation from immature stem cells to different types of specialized cells. Importantly it is also one of the most frequently activated genes in human cancer.
Japanese scientists release tips on reproducing stem-cell work
(The Wall Street Journal) – A leading Japanese research institute on Wednesday released new tips on methods its scientists used to create stem cells in hopes of dispelling skepticism over what has been touted as a breakthrough technique. The Riken Center for Developmental Biology said additional procedural methods for the studies led by Riken biologist Haruko Obokata will be released on the British journal Nature’s online Protocol Exchange site where scientists share their experimental know-how.
Stem cells to treat lung disease in infants
(Asian Scientist) – A phase I clinical study conducted by researchers in Korea has found that it is safe and feasible to use stem cell therapies for preventing and treating lung disease in preterm infants. Advances in neonatal care for very preterm infants have greatly increased the chances of survival for these fragile infants. However, preterm infants have an increased risk of developing bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), a serious lung disease, which is a major cause of death and lifelong complications.
March 4, 2014
Reconstructing faces using human stem cells from fat
(Medical News Today) - Researchers in London, UK, are investigating the effectiveness of stem cell therapies for facial reconstruction. A joint team, from London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children and University College London’s Institute of Child Health, has published the findings of their research in the journal Nanomedicine. This follows the recent news that another UK-based team, of The London Chest Hospital, has begun the largest ever trial of adult stem cells in heart attack patients.
Stem cell advance yields mature heart muscle cells
(University of Wisconsin) – A team of University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers has induced human embryonic stem cells (hESC) to differentiate toward pure-population, mature heart muscle cells, or cardiomyocytes. A substrate patterned with a precisely sized series of channels played a critical role in the advance.
February 28, 2014
Clinical trial shows stem cell injections reduce low back pain (w/ video)
(Medical Xpress) – A single injection of stem cells into degenerative discs reduced low back pain for at least 12 months according to results of a 100-patient, phase II, international clinical trial that included researchers at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center. W. Jeremy Beckworth, MD, assistant professor of Orthopaedics and Rehab Medicine, was part of the trial that used injections of bone marrow stem cells called mesenchymal precursor cells (MPCs) to reduce pain. On average researchers found a pain reduction greater than 50 percent at 12 months.
Stem cell scientist gets suspended prison term
(Korean Times) – The Supreme Court Thursday upheld a suspended jail term of one year and six months for two years issued to stem cell scientist Hwang Woo-suk after he was convicted on charges of embezzlement and violation of the Bioethics Law. “The appellate court’s judgment that Hwang had concealed and used research funds invested on his research project was justifiable,” the top court said in its ruling. It added that Hwang had violated the Bioethics Law by deducting sterilization fees for women who donating ova during his research.
February 26, 2014
More evidence for stem cell errors
(The Scientist) – An investigation by the University of Düsseldorf in Germany has found evidence of scientific misconduct related to research conducted there on stem cells used to heal damaged cardiac tissue. The conclusion follows a 2013 indictment by researchers at Imperial College London, alleging that dozens of papers by the leader of the studies, cardiologist Bodo-Eckehard Strauer, were plagued by contradictions, miscalculations, and duplications.
Oklahoma House approves embryonic stem cell ban
(San Francisco Gate) – Conducting certain types of embryonic stem cell research in Oklahoma would be a felony punishable by at least a year in prison under a bill that the Oklahoma House overwhelmingly approved on Tuesday. The House voted 73-14 for the Protection of Human Life Act of 2013, despite concerns it sends the wrong message to the nation’s research community. The bill, which now heads to the Senate, prohibits “nontherapeutic research” that destroys a fertilized human egg, although the measure specifically exempts embryo transfers connected to in vitro fertilization.
February 24, 2014
Nanotechnology to help healing hearts
(Phys.org) – Precision is also required in the large strategic research opening by Tekes which Franssila and his research group are participating in with the University of Helsinki and Helsinki University Central Hospital. The project has an ambitious goal: getting damaged organs to heal themselves. Achieving this goal requires drugs that are targeted at an organ, such as the heart or the brain, using nanotechnology. The drugs then locally enhance the differentiation of stem cells so that the necessary new heart or nerve cells are created.
Scientists transform skin cells into functioning liver cells
(Nanowerk) – The power of regenerative medicine now allows scientists to transform skin cells into cells that closely resemble heart cells, pancreas cells and even neurons. However, a method to generate cells that are fully mature—a crucial prerequisite for life-saving therapies—has proven far more difficult. But now, scientists at the Gladstone Institutes and the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), have made an important breakthrough: they have discovered a way to transform skin cells into mature, fully functioning liver cells that flourish on their own, even after being transplanted into laboratory animals modified to mimic liver failure.
New stem cell research may give the elderly rejuvenated muscles
(Tech Times) – Researchers have taken an old mouse whose heart has thickened and enlarged with age, circulated a newly discovered protein in its blood, and saw that the heart reverted back to a more youthful state. They now believe the same effect can be achieved with elderly humans, using a new process that rejuvenates older muscle stem cell populations so they function like younger cells.
Turn your body into a cartilage factory
(Wired) – Using scaffolds outside of the body to generate synthetic tracheas, cell-grown blood vessels and ears (kind of) is already an established practice in bioengineering research. But what happens once those scaffolds have been implanted? A team from Duke University is working on getting them to become fuel-generating systems that continually encourage stem cells to grow inside the body, to directly rebuild cartilage on site.
February 21, 2014
Researchers regenerate sound-sensing cells in the ears of mice with hearing damage
(Science Codex) – One of the major causes of hearing loss in mammals is damage to the sound-sensing hair cells in the inner ear. For years, scientists have thought that these cells are not replaced once they’re lost, but new research appearing online February 20 in the journal Stem Cell Reports reveals that supporting cells in the ear can turn into hair cells in newborn mice. If the findings can be applied to older animals, they may lead to ways to help stimulate cell replacement in adults and to the design of new treatment strategies for people suffering from deafness due to hair cell loss.
Researchers distinguish subcutaneous from visceral fat stem cells using specific cell markers
(Medical Xpress) – Scientists from A*STAR’s Singapore Bioimaging Consortium (SBIC) led in the discovery that two little-known fat cell markers have huge potential to assist researchers to further their understanding of fats. The discovery was recently published in prestigious science journal, Stem Cell Reports.