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Archive for the ‘stem cell’ Category

First mapping of methylation event in embryonic stem cells

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 07-25-2011

Stem cell researchers at UCLA have generated the first genome-wide mapping of a DNA modification called 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC) in embryonic stem cells, and discovered that it is predominantly found in genes that are turned on, or active.

According to Steven E. Jacobsen, a professor of molecular, cell and developmental biology in the Life Sciences and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, 5hmC is formed from the DNA base cytosine by adding a methyl group and then a hydroxy group. The molecule is important in epigenetics because the newly formed hydroxymethyl group on the cytosine can potentially switch a gene on and off.

The molecule 5hmC was only recently discovered, and its function has not been clearly understood, Jacobsen said. Until now, researchers didn’t know where 5hmC was located within the genome.

For more read UCLA scientists complete first mapping of molecule found in human embryonic stem cells

Blind no more: a stem cell story

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 06-16-2011

In a past post we showed you a video describing how a 38-year-old man who was blinded in one eye, 17 years ago, has regained his eyesight due to a groundbreaking new stem cell treatment (see Stem Cells Cure Blind Man). The treatment used autologous stem cells from the patient’s healthy eye which were propogated and transplanted into the damaged one. This restored his vision and helped him get back to a normal life.

In a new study appearing in an advance online publication of the journal Stem Cells on June 15, 2011, investigators used recently developed technology to generate induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells from a human patient with an uncommon inherited eye disease known as gyrate atrophy. This disorder affects retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells, the cells critical to the support of the retina’s photoreceptor cells, which function in the transmission of messages from the retina to parts of the brain that interpret images.

“When we generate iPS cells, correct the gene defect that is responsible for this disease, and guide these stem cells to become RPE cells, these RPE cells functioned normally. This is exciting because it demonstrates we can fix something that is out of order. It also supports our belief that in the future, one might be able to use this approach for replacement of cells lost or malfunctioning due to other more common diseases of the retina,” said lead study author cell biologist Jason Meyer, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology in the School of Science at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

I’m sure that the legendary Jonny Nash would agree that this is something to sing about!

Source: Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

Low funding levels impede translation of stem cell research into therapy

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 05-26-2011

We’re so close, yet so far. Despite the many advances in stem cell research over the past decade, low funding of basic science research is making it difficult for scientists to move stem cell therapies from the bench to the bedside.

A new article published by Cell Press in the May 26 issue of the journal Neuron provides comprehensive insight into the current status of neural stem cell research and the sometimes labyrinthine pathways leading to stem cell-based therapies. The perspective on translating neural stem cell research into clinical therapeutics is part of a special issue of Neuron devoted to neural stem cells and neurogenesis and is published in collaboration with the May issue of Cell Stem Cell, which also has a selection of reviews on this topic.

Neurological disease and injury are a major cause of disability worldwide, and there is a pressing need to find reparative therapeutics for the central nervous system (CNS). Although stem cell therapies represent the frontier of regenerative medicine, the “bench to bedside” leap where scientific discoveries in the laboratory are translated to actual patient therapeutics faces many challenging hurdles.

“Stem cell research is one of the most rapidly developing areas of science and medicine,” says study author Dr. Sally Temple from the Neural Stem Cell Institute in Rensselaer, New York. “The explosive rise in discoveries and technologies that we see in the basic research labs has yet to enter the pipeline, and there is an enormous gap between what we can do at the bench and what we see in the current clinical trials. It is imperative that we work towards making the process of translation more effective and affordable.”

In their article, Dr. Temple and colleagues describe the current status of stem cell-based CNS therapies, analyze currently approved clinical trials, and discuss key issues associated with translational progress. The authors report that many basic scientists are struggling with low funding levels and that funding cutbacks substantially impede new research directions. They suggest that successfully transitioning from the lab to the clinics requires a comprehensive and collaborative team effort among researchers, clinicians, regulatory agencies, patient advocacy groups, ethics bodies, and industry, and they stress that pioneering this new partnership model is essential for smooth translational path that will improve the chance that the health benefits of research reach patients.

“There is no doubt that stem cell research and application is opening great opportunities in CNS regenerative therapies and, although our survey shows that we are still at relatively early stages of defining safety for human trials, stupendous strides are being made in preclinical studies,” says Dr. Temple. “However, we must engage basic researchers and their institutions to ensure that they participate in the rewards of successful translation and benefit from revenue return that will fund further creative discoveries. We envision a much more concerted effort towards translation that would make the process more accessible and efficient, forging new private/public partnerships that will spread both risks and benefits in the process. Ultimately, the rewards of solving this problem could be seen at every level, from the next generation of young scientists to the patients. We need to take steps soon, as the challenge posed by neurological disorders is growing.”

Source: Cell Press (via EurekAlert!)

Stem Cell Ruling a Victory for All

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 05-18-2011

The U.S. Federal Court of Appeals has overturned an August 2010 ban on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, paving the way for broader exploration of how stem cells function and how they can be harnessed to treat a wide range of currently incurable diseases.

Arnold Kriegstein

The ruling has been welcomed by the Obama Administration, which attempted to lift the ban in 2009, and by the nation’s top researchers in the field, including Arnold Kriegstein, MD, PhD, director of the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCSF.

“This is a victory not only for the scientists, but for the patients who are waiting for treatments and cures for terrible diseases,” Kriegstein said. “This ruling allows critical research to move forward, enabling scientists to compare human embryonic stem cells to other forms of stem cells, such as the cell lines which are derived from skin cells, and to pursue potentially life-saving therapies based on that research.”

See UCSF website for more details.

Stem Cells In Space

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 05-16-2011

Prof. Dan Gazit

The space shuttle Endeavor that will be launched into space Monday from the United States will not only mark the end of the era of NASA shuttle launches but also be the closing of a circle for Prof. Dan Gazit of the Skeletal Biotechnology Laboratory of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The shuttle will carry, among other things, an experiment in bone cells that was borne on the space shuttle that crashed in 2003 over Texas, carrying Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon and his colleagues to their deaths.

On the flight with Ramon (who was a good friend of Gazit) was a cell culture device, which contained adult stem cells. The experiment was part of the experimental work carried out by Prof. Gazit, which focused on the regeneration of skeletal tissue by converting adult stem cells into skeletal tissue through genetic engineering. The purpose of the space experiment was to investigate the influence of weightlessness on the function of the stem cells.

Since it is known that astronauts quickly lose bone mass while they are in space – in effect developing osteoporosis – the object of the project was to find those genes that are either active or suppressed in the cells that generate bone and therefore are responsible for the phenomenon, explained Prof. Gazit.

The experiment was to include a comprehensive analysis of thousands of genes within the cells that were in the space vehicle and their comparison to those which were grown in the Hebrew university laboratory. The results could have implications not only for the health of the astronauts but also for others suffering from osteoporosis and those confined to bed rest for extended periods.

After the loss of the cells due to the tragic accident, Prof. Gazit and his colleagues used an alternative technology to mimic weightlessness on earth. The group utilized a dynamic cell culture system that rotates around its axis, generating free-fall conditions for the cells growing inside it. The results of that work were published in the scientific journal Tissue Engineering. In that work, the researchers found that the weightlessness caused the stem cells to change into fat cells and prevented their being converted into bone cells. The results explain why lack of movement or weight can lead to loss of bone boss.

On the space flight that is scheduled to go out this week from the US, this experiment with weightlessness will be replicated by the Fisher Foundation, under actual space conditions, in order to evaluate the mechanism of bone loss in space.

Prof. Gazit’s group is currently working on the development of new treatments based on the use of adult stem cells for rehabilitation of the spine for osteoporosis patients. This method is based on getting the body’s own repair cells to reverse loss of bone mass and to repair the damage from which these patients are suffering, such as spine fractures.

For a primer on stem cells click on Stem Cell Basics for Life Science Researchers

source: Hebrew University