Category Archives: Stem Cells

Study identifies RNA molecule that shields breast cancer stem cells from immune system

Image courtesy of Toni Celià-Terrassa and Yibin Kang, Department of Molecular Biology

Researchers from Princeton University’s Department of Molecular Biology have identified a small RNA molecule that helps maintain the activity of stem cells in both healthy and cancerous breast tissue. The study, which will be published in the June issue of Nature Cell Biology, suggests that this “microRNA” promotes particularly deadly forms of breast cancer and that inhibiting the effects of this molecule could improve the efficacy of existing breast cancer therapies.

Stem cells give rise to the different cell types in adult tissues but, in order to maintain these tissues throughout adulthood, stem cells must retain their activity for decades. They do this by “self-renewing,” dividing to form additional stem cells, and resisting the effects of environmental signals that would otherwise cause them to prematurely differentiate into other cell types.

Many tumors also contain so-called “cancer stem cells” that can drive tumor formation. Some tumors, such as triple-negative breast cancers, are particularly deadly because they contain large numbers of cancer stem cells that self-renew and resist differentiation.

Boston University scientists turn human induced pluripotent stem cells into lung cells

‘Bronchospheres’ may pave way for personalized cystic fibrosis treatments

Human lungs, like all organs, begin their existence as clumps of undifferentiated stem cells. But in a matter of months, the cells get organized. They gather together, branch and bud, some forming airways and others alveoli, the delicate sacs where our bodies exchange oxygen for carbon dioxide. The end result, ideally: two healthy, breathing lungs.

For years, scientists who study lung diseases like cystic fibrosis have tried to track this process in detail, from start to finish, in the hope that understanding how lungs form normally may help explain how things go wrong. Now, scientists at Boston University’s Center for Regenerative Medicine (CReM) have announced two major findings that further our understanding of this process: the ability to grow and purify the earliest lung progenitors that emerge from human stem cells, and the ability to differentiate these cells into tiny “bronchospheres” that model cystic fibrosis. Researchers hope that the results, published separately in the Journal of Clinical Investigation and Cell Stem Cell, will lead to new, “personalized medicine” approaches to treating lung disease.

Stem Cell Therapy for Arachnoiditis Helps a Tennessee Woman Walk Again

Chronic disease can present challenges for patients and their families on many levels, from the emotional to the physical. For many, the growing realization that there is no cure for their illness can lead to frustration at best as they learn to adapt their daily routine, quality of life and plans for the future to a new reality.

Such was the case for Dr. Sara Davis when her active life as a wife, mother and physician was turned on its head by arachnoiditis, a chronic pain disorder affecting the spinal nerves. Dr. Davis was eventually confined to a wheelchair and struggled daily with pain, lack of mobility and the inability to perform many menial tasks. As a physician, she continued to search for new avenues of treatment and held out hope that something would someday cure her condition or improve her symptoms. Stem cell therapy became that ray of hope in 2015 when her research led her to Dr. Todd Malan and his advanced use of stem cell therapies that were available worldwide, but not FDA approved in the U.S.

Watch Sara’s story:

NIH-funded study helps explain how zebrafish recover from blinding injuries

Decrease in neurotransmitter GABA triggers stem cell production in the retina.

Researchers at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, have discovered that in zebrafish, decreased levels of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) cue the retina, the light-sensing tissue in the back of the eye, to produce stem cells. The finding sheds light on how the zebrafish regenerates its retina after injury and informs efforts to restore vision in people who are blind. The research was funded by the National Eye Institute (NEI) and appears online today in Stem Cell Reports. NEI is part of the National Institutes of Health.

“This work opens up new ideas for therapies for blinding diseases and has implications for the broader field of regenerative medicine,” said Tom Greenwell, Ph.D., NEI program officer for retinal neuroscience.

Stem cell transplants may induce long-term remission of multiple sclerosis

Encouraging results help set stage for larger studies.

New clinical trial results provide evidence that high-dose immunosuppressive therapy followed by transplantation of a person’s own blood-forming stem cells can induce sustained remission of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS), an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the central nervous system.

Five years after receiving the treatment, called high-dose immunosuppressive therapy and autologous hematopoietic cell transplant (HDIT/HCT), 69 percent of trial participants had survived without experiencing progression of disability, relapse of MS symptoms or new brain lesions. Notably, participants did not take any MS medications after receiving HDIT/HCT. Other studies have indicated that currently available MS drugs have lower success rates.

The trial, called HALT-MS, was sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, and conducted by the NIAID-funded Immune Tolerance Network (ITN). The researchers published three-year results from the study in December 2014, and the final five-year results appear online Feb. 1 in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Mathematics of Stem Cells

Presented by the University of California Irvine School of Physical Sciences. Cell populations are complex. Their collective functioning, turnover, and cooperation are at the basis of the life of multicellular organisms, such as humans. When this goes wrong, an unwanted evolutionary process can begin that leads to cancer. Mathematics cannot cure cancer, but it can be used to understand some of its aspects, which is an essential step in winning the battle.

New Ultrasound Technique is First to Image Inside Live Cells

These are stem cells becoming fat cells. Using the ultrasound technique, we can start exploring why fat cells put on fat and whether we can make the cells ‘diet’. Credit: University of Nottingham

Researchers at The University of Nottingham have developed a break-through technique that uses sound rather than light to see inside live cells, with potential application in stem-cell transplants and cancer diagnosis.

The new nanoscale ultrasound technique uses shorter-than-optical wavelengths of sound and could even rival the optical super-resolution techniques which won the 2014 Nobel Prize for Chemistry.

This new kind of sub-optical phonon (sound) imaging provides invaluable information about the structure, mechanical properties and behaviour of individual living cells at a scale not achieved before.

Stem Cell ‘Living Bandage’ for Knee Injuries Trialled in Humans

Newswise — A ‘living bandage’ made from stem cells, which could revolutionise the treatment and prognosis of a common sporting knee injury, has been trialled in humans for the first time by scientists at the Universities of Liverpool and Bristol.

Meniscal tears are suffered by over one million people a year in the US and Europe alone and are particularly common in contact sports like football and rugby. 90 per cent or more of tears occur in the white zone of meniscus which lacks a blood supply, making them difficult to repair. Many professional sports players opt to have the torn tissue removed altogether, risking osteoarthritis in later life.

The cell bandage has been developed by Bristol University spin-out company Azellon, and is designed to enable the meniscal tear to repair itself by encouraging cell growth in the affected tissue.

New Library of Human Stem Cells with the Brazilian Genetic Admixture

New human pluripotent stem cells lines are derived from individuals of the Brazilian population – with European, African and Native American genomic ancestry; they can be used for testing drug toxicity and for studying differential drug response

Most lines of human pluripotent stem cells (hPSC) reported worldwide are derived from people or embryos with European or East Asian ancestries. An article published on October, 6, at the journal Scientific Reports – from the Nature group – announces 23 new lines of hPSC with different levels of admixed European, African and Native American genomic ancestry. The library can be expanded to 1.877 cell lines and was established by the researchers of the National Laboratory of Embryonic Stem Cells (LaNCE), from the Center for Cell-Based Therapy (CTC), at the University of São Paulo, Brazil.

The Beauty Of Pluripotent Stem Cells – Great Intro

By Muhammad Khan, TEDxBrentwoodCollegeSchool

Stem cells are extremely new to science, and research (despite being hindered) is advancing at an amazing pace. In 2012 a man named Shinya Yamanaka made the ground breaking discovery of induced pluripotent stem cells – essentially a cell that is reprogrammed into thinking it is a stem cell and behaves exactly as a stem cell would. The technology and possibilities that Shinya Yamanaka unlocked with this discovery is mind boggling, the possibilities are endless especially because it removes the ethical debate of stem cells being potential children.

I am a 17 year old student at Brentwood, this is both my first and last year and I’m looking forward to an amazing one. I’ve always been interested in science, in particular the medical sciences have always fascinated me. Growing up I’d always look for new science news and through all of that I found the amazing science of stem cells. Since then, they have been a huge interest of mine, so much so that I voluntarily did an extended essay on it. Bringing that interest and fascination to people who might not be so interested in science is something that I am really looking forward to with this talk.

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at http://ted.com/tedx