Boston, MA, USA – Deep within the lining of the human intestine lies the source of the organ’s ability to renew itself and recover from damage: intestinal stem cells (ISCs), lodged in pockets of tissue called crypts, generate the cells that continuously repopulate the intestinal lining. Even the stem cells themselves have a safety net: when they’re damaged, healthy replacements appear in less than a week.
News & Commentaries
Utrecht, The Netherlands – Researchers from the group of Vlad Cojocaru together with colleagues the Max Planck Institute in Münster (Germany) have revealed how an essential protein helps to activate genomic DNA during the conversion of regular adult human cells into stem cells. Their findings are published in the Biophysical Journal.
Helsinki, Finland – New research has deciphered how rogue communications in blood stem cells can cause Leukaemia. The discovery could pave the way for new, targeted medical treatments that block this process. Blood cancers like leukaemia occur when mutations in stem cells cause them to produce too many blood cells. The study is published in the journal Science
Ann Arbor, MI, USA – Hip replacements, severe burns, spinal cord injuries, blast injuries, traumatic brain injuries—these seemingly disparate traumas can each lead to a painful complication during the healing process called heterotopic ossification. Heterotopic ossification is abnormal bone formation within muscle and soft tissues, an unfortunately common phenomenon that typically occurs weeks after an injury or surgery. Patients with heterotopic ossification experience decreased range of motion, swelling and pain.
College Station, TX, USA – Baby diapers, contact lenses and gelatin dessert. While seemingly unrelated, these items have one thing in common — they’re made of highly absorbent substances called hydrogels that have versatile applications. Recently, a type of biodegradable hydrogel, dubbed microporous annealed particle (MAP) hydrogel, has gained much attention for its potential to deliver stem cells for body tissue repair. But it is currently unclear how these jelly-like materials affect the growth of their precious cellular cargo, thereby limiting its use in regenerative medicine.
College Station, TX, USA – During the past decade, the gene editing tool CRISPR has transformed biology and opened up hopeful avenues to correct deadly inherited diseases. Now, the first human clinical trials using CRISPR have begun in the hopes of curing diseases by taking damaged cells out of patient and repairing and replacing them.
Groningen, The Netherlands – The surface on which cells are grown can affect their properties. Scientists have used molecular motors, which rotate when irradiated with light, to change the structure of a protein layer on which stem cells were seeded. These stem cells, derived from bone marrow, can form different cell types or they can remain stem cells. The movement of the motors primed the stem cells to transform more efficiently into bone cells. This technique could be used to dynamically control cellular behaviour on surfaces and create complex cell layers and tissues with different cell types by changing the properties of the protein layer at specific places.
Ann Arbor, MI, USA – Scientists at the University of Groningen and the University Medical Center Groningen used molecular motors to manipulate the protein matrix on which bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells are grown. Rotating motors altered the protein structure, which resulted in a bias of the stem cells to differentiate into bone cells (osteoblasts). Without rotation, the stem cells tended to remain multipotent. These results, which could be used in tissue engineering, were published in Science Advances on 29 January.
San Diego, CA, USA – Writing in the journal Stem Cells Translational Medicine, an international research team, led by physician-scientists at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, describe a new method for delivering neural precursor cells (NSCs) to spinal cord injuries in rats, reducing the risk of further injury and boosting the propagation of potentially reparative cells.The findings are published in the Jan. 29, 2020 print issue.
Los Angeles, CA, USA – UCLA researchers are part of an international team that reported the use of a stem cell gene therapy to treat nine people with the rare, inherited blood disease known as X-linked chronic granulomatous disease, or X-CGD. Six of those patients are now in remission and have stopped other treatments. Before now, people with X-CGD – which causes recurrent infections, prolonged hospitalizations for treatment, and a shortened lifespan – had to rely on bone marrow donations for a chance at remission.