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In a genetic engineering breakthrough that could help everyone from bed-ridden patients to elite athletes, a team of American researchers—including 2007 Nobel Prize winner Mario R. Capecchi—have created a “switch” that allows mutations or light signals to be turned on in muscle stem cells to monitor muscle regeneration in a living mammal. For humans, this work could lead to a genetic switch, or drug, that allows people to grow new muscle cells to replace those that are damaged, worn out, or not working for other reasons (e.g., muscular dystrophy). In addition, this same discovery also gives researchers
Scientists have now shown that skin cells can be coaxed to behave like muscle cells and muscle cells like skin cells.
The fickleness of the cells, and the relative ease with which they make the switch, provide a glimpse into the genetic reprogramming that must occur for a cell to become something it’s not.
“We’d all like to understand what happens inside the black box (cell),” said Helen Blau, professor and member of Stanford University‘s Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine Institute and co-author of a new study on the subject.
Harnessing these genetic makeovers will allow scientists to better
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At the base of the neck is located a reserve of stem cells that could revolutionize the fight against obesity and diabetes. These fat-burning stem cells are the mother cells of brown adipose tissue, and a study coordinated by Italian researcher Saverio Cinti of the Marches region Polytechnic Institute discovered them. The results of the study were presented at the European Obesity Congress in Amsterdam and published in Faseb Journal, the magazine of the Federation of American experimental biology societies.
“It is possible to cultivate these stem cells to grow brown adipose tissue