Helsinki, Finland – Graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) is a potentially life-threatening medical condition that is common after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, the only curative treatment for various types of leukemias. In GvHD, white blood cells from transplant donor recognize recipient cells as non-self and attack recipient tissues. Understanding how these donor white blood cells remain active against recipient cells can pave the way for novel treatment strategies in GvHD.
News & Commentaries
Munich, Germany – The loss of insulin-secreting beta cells by autoimmune destruction leads to type 1 diabetes. Clinical islet cell transplantation has the potential to cure diabetes, but donor pancreases are rare. In a new study, a group of researchers developed an improved pluripotent stem cell differentiation protocol to generate beta cells in vitro with superior glucose response and insulin secretion. This is a major step towards beta cell replacement therapy.
St. Louis, MO, USA – Using induced pluripotent stem cells produced from the skin of a patient with a rare, genetic form of insulin-dependent diabetes called Wolfram syndrome, researchers transformed the human stem cells into insulin-producing cells and used the gene-editing tool CRISPR-Cas9 to correct a genetic defect that had caused the syndrome. They then implanted the cells into lab mice and cured the unrelenting diabetes in those mice.
Kansas City, MO, USA – Drug resistance is a major obstacle in cancer treatment—leading to relapse for many patients. In a new study, published online April 20, 2020, in Nature Cell Biology, researchers from the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, Children’s Mercy Kansas City, and The University of Kansas Cancer Center report on a promising new strategy to overcome drug resistance in leukemia, using targeted doses of the widely-used chemotherapy drug doxorubicin.
London, UK – Our biological history can be traced back to a small group of cells called embryonic stem cells, which through cell division, give rise to cells that specialise to perform a specific role in the body – a process known as differentiation.
Bethesda, MD, USA – Researchers have discovered a technique for directly reprogramming skin cells into light-sensing rod photoreceptors used for vision. The lab-made rods enabled blind mice to detect light after the cells were transplanted into the animals’ eyes. The work, funded by the National Eye Institute (NEI), published April 15 in Nature. The NEI is part of the National Institutes of Health.
Houston, TX, USA – Two internationally renowned stem cell experts have found an abundance of abnormal stem cells in the lungs of patients who suffer from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), a leading cause of death worldwide. Frank McKeon, professor of biology and biochemistry and director of the Stem Cell Center, and Wa Xian, research associate professor at the center, used single cell cloning of lung stem cells to make their discovery. Now they are targeting the cells for new therapeutics.
Heidelberg, Germany – Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and the Heidelberg Institute of Stem Cell Technology and Experimental Medicine (HI-STEM)* and the Max Planck Institute in Freiburg have identified a new control mechanism that enables stem cells to adapt their activity in emergency situations. For this purpose, the stem cells simultaneously modify the blueprints for hundreds of proteins encoded in the gene transcripts. In this way, they control the amount of protein produced and can also control the formation of certain proteinisoforms. If this mechanism is inactivated, stem cells lose their self-renewal potential and can no longer react adequately to danger signals or inflammation.
Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong – Human stem cells have been regarded as one of the promising cell sources for cardiac regeneration therapy. But their clinical use is hampered due to the poor performance after transplantation into failing hearts. Recently a stem cell biologist from City University of Hong Kong (CityU), together with his collaborators, has developed a novel strategy, called in vivo priming, to "train" the stem cells to stay strong after implantation to the damaged heart via the 3D-printed bandage-like patch. The positive results of the study show that an in vivo priming strategy can be an effective means to enhance cardiac repair.
Zurich, Switzerland – Researchers at the University of Zurich show that different stem cell populations are innervated in distinct ways. Innervation may therefore be crucial for proper tissue regeneration. They also demonstrate that cancer stem cells likewise establish contacts with nerves. Targeting tumor innervation could thus lead to new cancer therapies. The research was published in FASEB