News & Commentaries

Cerebral Organoid Model Provides Clues About How to Prevent Virus-Induced Brain Cell Death

STEMBOOK: Cerebral Organoid Model Provides Clues About How to Prevent Virus-Induced Brain Cell Death

Bethesda, MD, USA –Scientists have determined that La Crosse virus (LACV), which can cause inflammation of the brain in children, affects brain cells differently depending on their developmental stage. Neurons—the primary brain cells of the central nervous system—evolve from neural stem cells and during development “commit” to becoming neurons. A new National Institutes of Health study shows that uncommitted neural stems cells generally survive LACV infection, while LACV often kills neurons. The study also shows that neurons infected by LACV can be rescued by interferon, a powerful antiviral protein. The study results appear in the Journal of Neuroinflammation.

RNA Regulation Is Crucial For Embryonic Stem Cell Differentiation

STEMBOOK: RNA Regulation Is Crucial For Embryonic Stem Cell Differentiation

Copenhagen, Denmark – Nuclear RNA levels are kept in check by RNA decay factors. Now, researchers at Aarhus and Copenhagen Universities show that an excess of RNA in the nucleus can have negative effects on a crucial regulator of stem cell differentiation. This study was published in the internationally recognised journal Cell Reports

Complex Organ Models Grown In The Lab

STEMBOOK: Complex Organ Models Grown In The Lab
Scientists at the University of Würzburg have successfully produced human tissues from stem cells. They have a complexity similar to that of normal tissue and are far superior to previous structures.

Würzburg, Germany – In 2006, Japanese researchers came up with a new way of creating pluripotent stem cells through epigenetic reprogramming of connective tissue cells. Their discovery has yielded a highly valuable cell type which scientists can use to grow all cells of the human body in a Petri dish.

Discovery: New Biomarker for Cancer Stem Cells

STEMBOOK: Discovery: New Biomarker for Cancer Stem Cells
Protein Linked to Tumor Survival and Spread

Houston, TX, USA – In the world of cancer biology, not all biomarkers are created equal. These molecules that alert doctors that an abnormal process may be underway can appear as an array of aberrant proteins, such as hormones, enzymes or signaling molecules, and vary from patient to patient. Because they are a mixed bag, no one drug exists to attack them. But now, a University of Houston College of Pharmacy associate professor has discovered a new biomarker in cancer stem cells that govern cancer survival and spread, and it’s raising hope that drug discovery to kill cancer stem cells could follow suit.

Protein Could Offer Therapeutic Target For Pancreatic Cancer

STEMBOOK: Protein Could Offer Therapeutic Target For Pancreatic Cancer
A protein that drives growth of pancreatic cancer, and which could be a target for new treatments, has been identified by researchers at the Crick.

London, UK – The study, published in Nature Cell Biology, looked into the most common type of pancreatic cancer, pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. This is an aggressive cancer that develops from secretory and tubular cells of the pancreas.

Human Heart Cells Are Altered By Spaceflight, But Return To (Mostly) Normal On Earth

Heart cells in space (credit: Wu, et al., Stanford)

Stanford, CA, USA – Heart muscle cells derived from stem cells show remarkable adaptability to their environment during and after spaceflight, according to a study publishing November 7 in the journal Stem Cell Reports. The researchers examined cell-level cardiac function and gene expression in human heart cells cultured aboard the International Space Station for 5.5 weeks. Exposure to microgravity altered the expression of thousands of genes, but largely normal patterns of gene expression reappeared within 10 days after returning to Earth.

Stem Cell Transplants Used to Grow Fully Functional Lungs in Mice

STEMBOOK: Stem Cell Transplants Used to Grow Fully Functional Lungs in Mice

New York, NY, USA – Researchers at Columbia University were able to grow fully functional lungs in mouse embryos using transplanted stem cells. The findings suggest that it may be ultimately possible to use the technique to grow human lungs in animals for patients who need transplants and to study new lung treatments.

Researchers Discover How Cells Know Their Future And Forget Their Past

STEMBOOK: Researchers Discover How Cells Know Their Future And Forget Their Past

Copenhagen, Denmark – All cells in the body contain the same genetic material. The difference between cells therefore depends solely on which genes are expressed or ‘turned on’. Now, researchers from the University of Copenhagen have gained new insights into how genes are turned on and off and how the cells “forget their past” while developing into a specific cell in the body. This new knowledge is published in Nature and will be crucial for stem cell therapy and potentially treating people with cancer.

Some Skin Cancers May Start in Hair Follicles

STEMBOOK: Some Skin Cancers May Start in Hair Follicles

New York, NY, USA – Some of the most deadly skin cancers may start in stem cells that lend color to hair and originate in hair follicles rather than in skin layers, a new study finds.Hair follicles are complex organs that reside within skin layers. It is there that immature pigment-making cells develop cancer-causing genetic changes and – in a second step – are exposed to normal hair growth signals, say the study authors.

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