Scientific inspiration can come from anywhere — a person, an event, even an experiment gone awry. But perhaps nothing can drive innovation more powerfully than the passion born of tragedy. Or, in Douglas Melton’s case, near tragedy. The co-director of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) is one of the leading figures in the search for cures for presently incurable diseases, and his breakthrough work is challenging many long-held beliefs about the ways biology and human development work.
But it was a very personal experience that brought Melton to stem cells, one that 17 years later he still finds difficult
Even 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
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Using skin cells from people with type 1 diabetes, researchers were able to produce cells that made insulin in response to changing blood sugar levels, though not as efficiently as normal insulin-producing cells do. (…) “This is a big deal,” said Susan Solomon, CEO of the New York Stem Cell Foundation, which provided some of the funding for the study. “Tackling the basic biology of type 1 diabetes, which is a very complex disease, is a critical step. With these cells, we can see in a dish what’s happening to the immune system, and if
Stem cell and regenerative medicine expert Dr. Malgorzata Borowiak has been named Baylor College of Medicine‘s fifth McNair Scholar. She will focus on diabetes.
Using stem cell technology, Borowiak’s research focuses on understanding the mechanisms of type 1 diabetes to identify new, cellular treatments for the disease.
The McNair Scholar program at BCM, supported by the Robert and Janice McNair Foundation and managed by the McNair Medical Institute, identifies outstanding scientists and physician scientists in biomedical research in four areas – breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, juvenile diabetes and neuroscience.
Borowiak, who started at BCM in January, serves as an assistant professor of