Mental retardation, altered facial characteristics, and heart problems are all problems suffered by children affected by Costello syndrome, a genetic disease that is being studied by researchers in Milan at the Italian Foundation for Cancer Research (FIRC) Institute of molecular oncology (IFOM) using the zebrafish as a model.
The cause of the disease – explained the scientists in the January issue of ‘Disease Models & Mechanisms’ monthly magazine – is a mutation of the Ras gene, the same alteration observed in 20pct of tumors. One out of every five cases of cancer and the rare genetic disease have a common
University of Rochester Medical Center scientists believe they are the first to identify genes that underlie the growth of primitive leukemia stem cells; and then to use the new genetic signature to identify currently available drugs that selectively target the rogue cells.
Although it is too early to attach significance to the drug candidates, two possible matches popped up: A drug in development for breast cancer (not approved by the Food and Drug Administration), and another experimental agent that, coincidentally, had been identified earlier by a URMC laboratory as an agent that targets leukemia cells.
Never mind facial masks and exfoliating scrubs, skin takes care of itself. Stem cells located within the skin actively generate differentiating cells that can ultimately form either the body surface or the hairs that emanate from it. In addition, these stem cells are able to replenish themselves, continually rejuvenating skin and hair. Now, researchers at Rockefeller University have identified two proteins that enable these skin stem cells to undertake this continuous process of self-renewal.
The work, published in Nature Genetics, brings new details to the understanding of how stem cells maintain — and lose — their status as stem cells
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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