best in science, biology, brain researchby Cathryn M. Delude, McGovern Institute

The human brain can adapt to changing demands even in adulthood, but MIT neuroscientists have now found evidence of it changing with unsuspected speed. Their findings suggest that the brain has a network of silent connections that underlie its plasticity.

best in science, biology, hhmi, education revolutionThe Howard Hughes Medical Institute will hold its third nationwide competition to find 12 colleges and universities to join the Science Education Alliance (SEA), a bold effort to engage students through authentic research experiences at the start of their academic careers.

biology, stem cells, pluripotencyMolecules that replace, sustain pluripotency factors make "non-permissive" mouse strains yield stable embryonic stem cells

by Monya Baker

Embryos from nonobese diabetic mice don't yield stable embryonic stem cells, which make the mice unsuitable for several sorts of experiments. New research reveals not only how to generate these stem cells but also how to toggle between different states of pluripotency.

biology, stem cells, engraftment, by Simone Alves

Improving engraftment increases survival in a mouse model

Drugs that encourage stem cells from the blood to engraft in the heart might be able to help prevent deaths caused by the tissue damage that occurs after heart attacks. A report published in Cell Stem Cell this month by Wolfgang Franz and colleagues at the Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich suggests that targeting the SDF-1alpha–CXCR4 homing axis could save cardiac tissue and increase survival rates.

biology, transcription factors, chromatic remodellerby Monya Baker

Two transcription factors and a chromatin remodeller help make mouse cardiomyocytes

Ever since researchers turned cultured cells into muscle, scientists have been searching for ways to do something similar to make heart cells.1 That's because, at least in the developed world, heart disease kills more people than anything else — in part because adult hearts are not able to replace damaged cells. Now, Jun Takeuchi and Benoit Bruneau at the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease in San Francisco have found that adding cardiac-specific genes to developing mouse embryos can make even some extra-embryonic parts become beating cardiomyocytes2.

best in science, biology, endometrium, animal cloning, embryoby Mariano Loza Coll

The endometrium can differentiate between embryos generated by various technologies

Animal cloning could be a boon for the biotechnology and agricultural industries if only more livestock survived. Even though the percent of pregnancies initiated for cloned cow embryos is similar to that seen using other assisted fertilization techniques, only 7% of these embryos survive to be 150-day-old calves. The rest perish throughout pregnancy or soon after birth due to placental malformations. Two research groups have now demonstrated that the cow uterus reacts differently to embryos generated by cloning and by in vitro fertilization.

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