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

Cerebrospinal fluid signals control the behavior of stem cells in the brain

When stem cells from the old brain are cultured with signals of a young choroid plexus they can divide and form new neurons (red). Credit: Biozentrum, University of Basel

When stem cells from the old brain are cultured with signals of a young choroid plexus they can divide and form new neurons (red). Credit: Biozentrum, University of Basel.

Prof. Fiona Doetsch’s research team at the Biozentrum, University of Basel, has discovered that the choroid plexus, a largely ignored structure in the brain that produces the cerebrospinal fluid, is an important regulator of adult neural stem cells. The study recently published in “Cell Stem Cell” also shows that signals secreted by the choroid plexus dynamically change during aging which affects aged stem cell behavior.

Lasers Carve the Path to Tissue Engineering

Future medicine is bound to include extensive tissue-engineering technologies such as organs-on-chips and organoids – miniature organs grown from stem cells. But all this is predicated on a simple yet challenging task: controlling cellular behavior in three dimensions. So far, most cell culture approaches are limited to two-dimensional environments (e.g. a Petri dish or a chip), but that neither matches real biology nor helps us sculpt tissues and organs. Two EPFL scientists have now developed a new method that uses lasers to carve out paths inside biocompatible gels to locally influence cell function and promote tissue formation. The work is published in Advanced Materials.

In the body, cells grow in 3D microspaces that are specific to each type of tissue – liver, kidney, lung, heart, brain etc. These microenvironments are important because they control the behavior of the cells, e.g. how they interact with other parts of the tissue to help it develop, function, and repair. In addition, the microenvironments themselves are very dynamic and adaptable, sending the cells various biochemical signals to adapt their behavior to physiological changes.

Evidence that Zika causes neural stem cells to self-destruct

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Credit: Dang and Tiwari et al./Cell Stem Cell 2015

A new addition in the growing number of studies using brain organoids to understand how the Zika virus leads to microcephaly reveals that human neural stem cells infected by the virus subsequently trigger an innate immune response that leads to cell death. On May 6 in Cell Stem Cell, University of California San Diego School of Medicine researchers report that if this immune response is blocked, it helps neural stem cells survive Zika infection.

Stem cells used to successfully regenerate damage in corticospinal injury

For first time, researchers show functional benefit in animal model of key motor control system

Writing in the March 28, 2016 issue of Nature Medicine, researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System, with colleagues in Japan and Wisconsin, report that they have successfully directed stem cell-derived neurons to regenerate lost tissue in damaged corticospinal tracts of rats, resulting in functional benefit.

“The corticospinal projection is the most important motor system in humans,” said senior study author Mark Tuszynski, MD, PhD, professor in the UC San Diego School of Medicine Department of Neurosciences and director of the UC San Diego Translational Neuroscience Institute. “It has not been successfully regenerated before. Many have tried, many have failed — including us, in previous efforts.”

Edited stem cells offer hope of precision therapy for blindness

Findings raise the possibility of treating blinding eye diseases using a patient’s own corrected cells as replacement tissue

Credit: Vinit Mahajan

Credit: Vinit Mahajan

Using a new technology for repairing disease genes–the much-talked-about CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing–University of Iowa researchers working together with Columbia University Medical Center ophthalmologists have corrected a blindness-causing gene mutation in stem cells derived from a patient. The result offers hope that eye diseases might one day be treated by personalized, precision medicine in which patients’ own cells are used to grow replacement tissue.

Stem Cell Battles: Proposition 71 and Beyond

Book Cover, Stem Cell Battles, by Don Reed

Don Reed’s new book “Stem Cell Battles: Proposition 71 and Beyond” (available at Amazon) gives us an insider’s perspective on the historical whirlwind that today is driving forward medical research in California and elsewhere. The author, who has been called the “Grandfather of Stem Cell Research Advocacy” for his longstanding commitment to this cause, is intimately familiar with the community of scientists, politicians, and patient activists who first came together over a decade ago to advocate stem cell research. Their signature achievement has been passage of Proposition 71 in California, which established financing for the research to the tune of three billion dollars. Largely as a result of their effort, we stand today at the threshold of medical breakthroughs that will save millions of lives.

As Reed explains, the stem cell research mission is advanced out not only in laboratories but also in the centers of political power. The research requires funding and has to withstand attack from religious fanaticism that aims to shut it down. Standing staunchly against publicly-funded embryonic stem cell research have been not only anti-government conservatives but also fundamentalist religious organizations and Catholic officialdom.

New Research: Combining Adult Stem Cells with Hormone May Speed Bone Fracture Healing

LOS ANGELES (Dec. 8, 2015) ? A combination of adult stem cells and parathyroid hormone significantly increased new bone formation in laboratory animals and may speed the healing process for human bone fractures caused by osteoporosis, a new study shows.

The study is published online by Molecular Therapy, a peer-reviewed journal in the Nature Publishing Group. Researchers used a combination of mesenchymal stem cells, which are derived from bone marrow taken from adults, and parathyroid hormone, also called PTH, which regulates human calcium levels essential for strong and healthy bones.

For 21 days, laboratory rats and pigs with vertebral fractures received daily injections of PTH. During the same period, the animals also were injected with five doses of stem cells. The study shows that the combination therapy significantly enhanced the stem cells’ migration to the area of the bone fracture and increased the formation of new, healthy bone.

Stem cell-derived kidneys connect to blood vessels when transplanted into mice

* After researchers transplanted kidney tissue generated from human induced pluripotent stem cells into a mouse kidney, the animal’s blood vessels readily connected to the human tissue.

Washington, DC (November 19, 2015) — Various research groups are collecting different types of cells and turning them into induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells that can then generate diverse types of cells and tissues in the body. Now investigators have transplanted kidney tissue made from human iPS cells into a mouse kidney, and they found that the animal’s blood vessels readily connect to the human tissue. The advance, which marks an important step towards creating a urine-producing kidney through regenerative medicine, is described in a study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN).

In previous work, Ryuichi Nishinakamura, MD (Kumamoto University, in Japan) and his colleagues created 3-dimensional kidney structures from human iPS cells. In this latest work, by engineering the iPS cells to express green fluorescent protein so that they could be visualized and tracked, the researchers found that the iPS cell-derived kidney tissues were similar to those found normally in the body. Also, the team successfully transplanted the kidney structures into the kidneys of mice, where they matured further around adjacent blood vessels and formed a filtration membrane structure similar to that of a normal kidney.

“We are now working to create a discharge path for the kidney and combine it with our findings,” said Prof. Nishinakamura.

In addition to their potential for regenerative medicine, such kidney structures may help scientists model kidney development, investigate the causes of kidney disease, and assess drugs’ toxicity to the kidneys.

Study finds combination stem cell therapy improves cardiac function

A new study from the Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute (ISCI) at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine finds that combination stem cell therapy, using c-kit+ cardiac stem cells (CSCs) and mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) can significantly enhance cardiac performance in chronic ischemic cardiomyopathy following a heart attack. This is the first time a combination of cells has been used in a large animal pre-clinical trial of established heart failure by researchers at ISCI.

Dr. Joshua Hare, director of Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute, led the study, Synergistic Effects of Combined Cell Therapy for Chronic Ischemic Cardiomyopathy, which was published November 2, 2015 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

“Previous work from our laboratory strongly supported the scientific rationale for cell combination therapy,” says Hare. “Now, as the field is growing, ISCI is showing the benefit of combining multiple types of cells to produce a stronger, more effective treatment option for patients with severe heart damage and heart failure.”