Cincinnati, OH, USA –Stem cell therapy helps hearts recover from a heart attack, although not for the biological reasons originally proposed two decades ago that today are the basis of ongoing clinical trials. This is the conclusion of a Nov. 27 study in Nature that shows an entirely different way that heart stem cells help the injured heart – not by replacing damaged or dead heart cells as initially proposed.
News & Commentaries
Tsukuba, Japan – Embryonic stem cells have the potential to differentiate into any type of cell in the human body. Once differentiated though, the newly minted somatic cells live out the rest of their days as that specific cell type and never again have the capacity to differentiate. Or so the theory goes
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.
New Brunswick, NJ, USA – Two genes that appear to help stem cells in the intestine burn dietary fat may play a role in colon cancer, according to a Rutgers study.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.