by Monya Baker

Making blood stem cell niches in vivo and in vitro

Two independent groups of researchers have made artificial versions of the stem cell niches where blood forms. Irving Weissman and colleagues at Stanford University in California found that with the right population of cells, bone can be made to grow in the kidney. What's more, that bone can recruit a vasculature and establish a blood-forming niche, complete with haematopoietic stem cells. This marks the first in vivo assay to assess the formation and maintenance of a blood-forming niche at a site outside its natural location, and the researchers were able to use the assay to assess the ability of various soluble proteins to help establish the niche1

Rajesh GokhaleRajesh Gokhale has created a compound in his lab in India that stops tuberculosis in its tracks. In a test tube, the molecule hits four of the bacterium's crucial metabolic pathways at the same time, weakening and ultimately destroying the pathogen.

The problem is that Gokhale's compound will not work in humans. Not willing to set aside seven years of work, he has been knocking on the doors of pharmaceutical companies to see if he can get any takers to help design a less toxic version. Gokhale is pushing himself because he knows if he can design a single drug that is safe and effective, it might one day replace the costly cocktail of drugs that people with tuberculosis must currently take to cure their disease.

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