February 4, 2014
Chemical stem cell signature predicts treatment response for acute myeloid leukemia
(Medical Xpress) – Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University and Montefiore Medical Center have found a chemical “signature” in blood-forming stem cells that predicts whether patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) will respond to chemotherapy. The findings are based on data from nearly 700 AML patients. If validated in clinical trials, the signature would help physicians better identify which AML patients would benefit from chemotherapy and which patients have a prognosis so grave that they may be candidates for more aggressive treatments such as bone-marrow transplantation.
February 3, 2014
The key to making aging cells young again is cell cycle speed
(Medical News Today) – In the journal Cell, Yale School of Medicine researchers identified a major obstacle to converting cells back to their youthful state – the speed of the cell cycle, or the time required for a cell to divide. When the cell cycle accelerates to a certain speed, the barriers that keep a cell’s fate on one path diminish. In such a state, cells are easily persuaded to change their identity and become pluripotent, or capable of becoming multiple cell types.
Stem cell donation: Make a friend, save a life
(The Guardian) – If a stranger saved your life, wouldn’t you want to meet them? Many stem cell recipients do – and forge lasting friendships with their donors. Somewhere in London is my perfect match. He is well-built, a year older than me, popular with my friends and family – a real hero. We’ve never met.
Split decision: Stem cell signal linked with cancer growth
(Eurekalert) – Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have identified a protein critical to hematopoietic stem cell function and blood formation. The finding has potential as a new target for treating leukemia because cancer stem cells rely upon the same protein to regulate and sustain their growth. Hematopoietic stem cells give rise to all other blood cells. Writing in the February 2, 2014 advance online issue of Nature Genetics, principal investigator Tannishtha Reya, PhD, professor in the Department of Pharmacology, and colleagues found that a protein called Lis1 fundamentally regulates asymmetric division of hematopoietic stem cells, assuring that the stem cells correctly differentiate to provide an adequate, sustained supply of new blood cells.
Heart cells beating in a Petri dish offer new hope to heart patients
(The Guardian) – Long QT causes serious disruptions to the heartbeat and is associated with a range of symptoms. At its most serious, the condition can set off a problem called an arrhythmia, which can result in heart failure. Some families discover they are affected by long QT only when a member, sometimes a child, dies. About 30,000 people are thought to have the condition in the UK. Treatments can mitigate the worst effects of long QT, but these can have serious side-effects. Now, however, hopes of countering long QT’s worst effects have been boosted by scientists working on a pioneer project involving stem cell technology.
January 31, 2014
Row over controversial stem-cell procedure flares up again
(Nature) – Top scientists in Italy have called on the health minister Beatrice Lorenzin to reconsider the composition of the new scientific advisory committee she has proposed to assess a controversial stem-cell therapy offered by the Stamina Foundation. Their move follows a renewed media frenzy around the affair, prompted by statements made to the press and television by the committee’s proposed president, Mauro Ferrari, shortly after he was nominated on 28 December.
Hip replacement might provide “untapped” source of stem cells for regenerative medicine
(PR Web) – In a study just published in STEM CELLS Translational Medicine, researchers have found what might prove to be a rich new source of adult stem cells for use in regenerative medicine — the tissue normally discarded during routine hip replacement surgery.
January 29, 2014
Simple way to make stem cells hailed as major discovery
A radical and remarkably easy way to make cells that can grow into any tissue in the body has been developed by scientists in Japan. The feat has been hailed as a major discovery by researchers familiar with the work, and if it can be repeated in human tissue, could lead to cheap and simple procedures to make patient-matched stem cells that could repair damaged or diseased organs. In a series of elegant experiments, researchers showed that cells plucked from animals could be turned into all-powerful master cells simply by immersing them in a mildly acidic solution for half an hour. (The Guardian)
Scientists succeed in manipulating stem cells into liver and pancreas precursor cells
Scientists from the Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) in A*STAR have developed a novel method of directing human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) into highly pure populations of endoderm, a valuable cell type that gives rise to organs including the liver and pancreas. These cells are highly sought-after for therapeutic and biotechnological purposes, but have been historically difficult to attain from hPSCs. The ability to generate pure endoderm at higher yields from hPSCs is a key and important step towards the use of stem cells in clinical applications. (Phys.org)
Converting adult human cells to hair-follicle-generating stem cells
If the content of many a situation comedy, not to mention late-night TV advertisements, is to be believed, there’s an epidemic of balding men, and an intense desire to fix their follicular deficiencies. One potential approach to reversing hair loss uses stem cells to regenerate the missing or dying hair follicles. But it hasn’t been possible to generate sufficient number of hair-follicle-generating stem cells – until now. (Medical Xpress)
January 28, 2014
Human stem cells predict efficacy of Alzheimer drugs
Researchers from the University of Bonn use reprogrammed patient neurons for drug testing. Why do certain Alzheimer medications work in animal models but not in clinical trials in humans? A research team from the University of Bonn and the biomedical enterprise LIFE & BRAIN GmbH has been able to show that results of established test methods with animal models and cell lines used up until now can hardly be translated to the processes in the human brain. Drug testing should therefore be conducted with human nerve cells, conclude the scientists. The results are published by Cell Press in the journal “Stem Cell Reports”. (Health Canal)
New method increases supply of embryonic stem cells
A new method allows for large-scale generation of human embryonic stem cells of high clinical quality. It also allows for production of such cells without destroying any human embryos. The discovery is a big step forward for stem cell research and for the high hopes for replacing damaged cells and thereby curing serious illnesses such as diabetes and Parkinson’s disease. (Phys.org)
Ireland’s first stem cell manufacturing centre approved at NUI Galway
Stem cells can be manufactured for human use for the first time in Ireland, following Irish Medicines Board licensing of a new facility in Galway. NUI Galway’s Centre for Cell Manufacturing Ireland aims to culture adult stem cells to tackle conditions such as arthritis, heart disease, diabetes and associated conditions. The centre, which is one of less than half a dozen in Europe authorised for stem cell manufacture, has been developed by researchers at NUIG’s regenerative medicine institute. (Irish Times)
January 27, 2014
Long-lived breast stem cells could retain cancer legacy
Researchers from Melbourne’s Walter and Eliza Hall Institute have discovered that breast stem cells and their ‘daughters’ have a much longer lifespan than previously thought, and are active in puberty and throughout life. The longevity of breast stem cells and their daughters means that they could harbour genetic defects or damage that progress to cancer decades later, potentially shifting back the timeline of breast cancer development. The finding is also integral to identifying the ‘cells of origin’ of breast cancer and the ongoing quest to develop new treatments and diagnostics for breast cancer. (Medical Xpress)
Scientists provide new insights into molecular regulation of stem cell differentiation
The findings of the scientists of the Institute of Diabetes and Regeneration Research (IDR) at Helmholtz Zentrum München (HMGU) provide new insights into the molecular regulation of stem cell differentiation. These results reveal important target structures for regenerative therapy approaches to chronic diseases such as diabetes. (News-Medical)
Stem-cell company in crisis
Advanced Cell Technology (ACT), a biotechnology company based in Marlborough, Massachusetts, has long flirted with fame — and bankruptcy. The company is running the only US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved clinical trials of embryonic stem (ES)-cell therapies. Later this month, ACT plans to report preliminary results from three trials to test the safety of its treatment for two different forms of vision loss. If all goes well, it could be the first clinical demonstration of the safety — and perhaps also the therapeutic potential — of ES cells. (Nature)
Cedars-Sinai clinical trial studies vaccine targeting cancer stem cells in brain cancers
An early-phase clinical trial of an experimental vaccine that targets cancer stem cells in patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme, the most common and aggressive malignant brain tumor, has been launched by researchers at Cedars-Sinai’s Department of Neurosurgery, Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. Brain Tumor Center and Department of Neurology. (Phys.org)
Historic patent on embryonic stem cells faces scrutiny
Opponents of the 2006 James Thomson patent say that it should be thrown out based on the same logic that led the U.S. Supreme Court to rule out patents on human genes—they are a product of nature. Even if this argument succeeds, however, many researchers say it won’t have a big impact on stem cell work because so many labs are now using a different and more artificial technology—induced pluripotent stem cells. (Science, by subscription only)
Lab-grown, virus-free stem cells repair retinal tissue in mice
Investigators at Johns Hopkins report they have developed human induced-pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) capable of repairing damaged retinal vascular tissue in mice. The stem cells, derived from human umbilical cord-blood and coaxed into an embryonic-like state, were grown without the conventional use of viruses, which can mutate genes and initiate cancers, according to the scientists. Their safer method of growing the cells has drawn increased support among scientists, they say, and paves the way for a stem cell bank of cord-blood derived iPSCs to advance regenerative medicine research. (Eurekalert)
January 24, 2014
Outcome in HPV-related oral cancers not necessarily predicted by number of cancer stem cells
New research from The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) suggests that it may be the quality of cancer stem cells rather than their quantity that leads to better survival in certain patients with oral cancer. The researchers investigated cancer stem cell numbers in oral cancers associated with human papillomavirus (HPV) and in oral cancers not associated with the virus. (Medical News Today)
Insulin-producing beta cells from stem cells: Scientists decipher early molecular mechanisms of differentiation
The Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway and microRNA 335 are instrumental in helping form differentiated progenitor cells from stem cells. These are organized in germ layers and are thus the origin of different tissue types, including the pancreas and its insulin-producing beta cells. With these findings, Helmholtz Zentrum München scientists have discovered key molecular functions of stem cell differentiation which could be used for beta cell replacement therapy in diabetes. The results of the two studies were published in the renowned journal Development. (Phys.org)