Tag Archives: Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Keeping Stem Cells Strong

When infections occur in the body, stem cells in the blood often jump into action by multiplying and differentiating into mature immune cells that can fight off illness. But repeated infections and inflammation can deplete these cell populations, potentially leading to the development of serious blood conditions such as cancer.

Now, a team of researchers led by biologists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has found that, in mouse models, the molecule microRNA-146a (miR-146a) acts as a critical regulator and protector of blood-forming stem cells (called hematopoietic stem cells, or HSCs) during chronic inflammation, suggesting that a deficiency of
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Precision gene targeting in stem cells corrects disease-causing mutations

Using two distinct methods, Whitehead Institute researchers have successfully and consistently manipulated targeted genes in both human embryonic stem (ES) cells and induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells (adult cells that have been reprogrammed to an embryonic stem cell-like state).

In one case, scientists employed proteins known as zinc finger nucleases (ZFNs) to change a single base pair in the genome, allowing them either to insert or remove mutations known to cause early-onset Parkinson’s disease (PD). The second method relies on proteins called transcription activator like effector nucleases (TALENs) capable of altering specific genes with similar efficiency and precision as ZFNs.
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Treatment for stem-cell transplants shows promise

An innovative experimental treatment for boosting the effectiveness of blood stem-cell transplants with umbilical cord blood has a favorable safety profile in long-term animal studies, according to Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) scientists at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI), Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), and Children’s Hospital Boston (CHB).

Analysis of long-term safety testing in nonhuman primates, published online by the journal Cell Stem Cell in a new section called “Clinical Progress,” revealed that a year following transplant umbilical cord blood units treated with a signaling molecule called 16,16-dimethyl PGE2 reconstituted all the normal types
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Two Proteins let Skin Cells to return to life

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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$3M improves college stem cells research

Unlocking knowledge about how organisms develop and repair, stem cell research holds great promise for future therapies for injuries and conditions, from infertility and Alzheimer’s to heart failure and cancer. As part of its mission to promote cross-campus interactions and enhance training in stem cell biology at Cornell, the Cornell Stem Cell Program (CSCP) held its second Stem Cell Retreat May 17 on campus.

About 85 members of the Cornell stem cell research community attended the event, which featured keynote speaker Dr. Lawrence Goldstein, director of the Stem Cell Program at University of California, San Diego, and the Howard Hughes
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