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
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Whitehead Institute researchers have developed a novel method of removing potential cancer-causing genes during the reprogramming of skin cells from Parkinson’s disease patients into an embryonic-stem-cell-like state. Scientists were then able to use the resulting induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells to derive dopamine-producing neurons, the cell type that degenerates in Parkinson’s disease patients.
The work marks the first time researchers have generated human iPS cells that have maintained their embryonic stem-cell-like properties after the removal of reprogramming genes. The findings are published in the March 6 edition of the journal Cell.
Removing the reprogramming genes is also important because
Scientists and transplant clinicians at the Ansary Stem Cell Institute at Weill Cornell Medical College and the Center for Cell Engineering at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center have been awarded a $15.7 million, four-year research grant from the New York State Stem Cell Science Program (NYSTEM).
The scientists will translate their approach to manipulate hematopoietic stem cells to cure acquired and inherited blood disorders. For many patients with such blood diseases, including sickle cell disease, the only hope for a cure requires transplanting normal blood stem cells.
But in many instances suitable blood stem cells cannot be found or there are