stemcell_Adhesive.jpgA new separation process that depends on an easily-distinguished physical difference in adhesive forces among cells could help expand production of stem cells generated through cell reprogramming. By facilitating new research, the separation process could also lead to improvements in the reprogramming technique itself and help scientists model certain disease processes.

The reprogramming technique allows a small percentage of cells – often taken from the skin or blood – to become human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) capable of producing a wide range of other cell types. Using cells taken from a patient’s own body, the reprogramming technique might one day enable regenerative therapies that could, for example, provide new heart cells for treating cardiovascular disorders or new neurons for treating Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease.

 stemcell_ElectronMicrograph.jpgThe parasites that cause schistosomiasis, one of the most common parasitic infections in the world, are notoriously long-lived. Researchers have now found stem cells inside the parasite that can regenerate worn-down organs, which may help explain how they can live for years or even decades inside their host.

Schistosomiasis is acquired when people come into contact with water infested with the larval form of the parasitic worm Schistosoma, known as schistosomes. Schistosomes mature in the body and lay eggs that cause inflammation and chronic illness. Schistosomes typically live for five to six years, but there have been reports of patients who still harbor parasites decades after infection.

bbccells.jpgIt may be possible to use a patient's own skin to repair the damage caused by multiple sclerosis (MS), which is currently incurable, say researchers.

Nerves struggle to communicate in MS as their insulating covering is attacked by the immune system - causing fatigue and damaging movement.

Animal tests, described in the journal Cell Stem Cell, have now used modified skin cells to repair the insulation.

Michael Snyder, PhDby Krista Conger

Like homing in to an elusive radio frequency in a busy city, human embryonic stem cells must sort through a seemingly endless number of options to settle on the specific genetic message, or station, that instructs them to become more-specialized cells in the body (Easy Listening, maybe, for skin cells, and Techno for neurons?). Now researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have shown that this tuning process is accomplished in part by restricting the number of messages, called transcripts, produced from each gene.

Michael Longaker, MD and Jospeh Wu, MD and PhDTiny circles of DNA are the key to a new and easier way to transform stem cells from human fat into induced pluripotent stem cells for use in regenerative medicine, say scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Unlike other commonly used techniques, the method, which is based on standard molecular biology practices, does not use viruses to introduce genes into the cells or permanently alter a cell's genome.

It is the first example of reprogramming adult cells to pluripotency in this manner, and is hailed by the researchers as a major step toward the use of such cells in humans. They hope that the ease of the technique and its relative safety will smooth its way through the necessary FDA approval process.

Marcus Wernig, MDEven Superman needed to retire to a phone booth for a quick change. But now scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine have succeeded in the ultimate switch: transforming mouse skin cells in a laboratory dish directly into functional nerve cells with the application of just three genes. The cells make the change without first becoming a pluripotent type of stem cell — a step long thought to be required for cells to acquire new identities.

The finding could revolutionize the future of human stem cell therapy and recast our understanding of how cells choose and maintain their specialties in the body.

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