UCLA researchers have discovered a type of cell that is the “missing link” between bone marrow stem cells and all the cells of the human immune system, a finding that will lead to a greater understanding of how a healthy immune system is produced and how disease can lead to poor immune function.
The research was done using human bone marrow, which contains all the stem cells that produce blood during post-natal life.
“We felt it was especially important to do these studies using human bone marrow, as most research into the development of the immune system has used
UCLA stem cell researchers have shown that insulin and nutrition prevent blood stem cells from differentiating into mature blood cells in Drosophila, the common fruit fly, a finding that has implications for studying inflammatory response and blood development in response to dietary changes in humans.
Keeping blood stem cells, or progenitor cells, from differentiating into blood cells is important as blood stem cells are needed to create the blood supply for the adult fruit fly.
The study found that the blood stem cells are receiving systemic signals from insulin and nutritional factors, in this case essential amino acids, that helped them
Image by Trygve.u via Flickr
Drs. Scott Kitchen, Zoran Galic, Jerry Zack of the UCLA Broad Stem Cell Research Center and AIDS Institute and their colleagues demonstrated for the first time that human blood stem cells can be engineered into cells that can target and kill HIV-infected cells. The process could potentially be used against a range of chronic viral diseases.
The study, published Dec. 7 in the-peer reviewed online journal PLoS ONE, provides proof-of-principle, a demonstration of feasibility, that human stem cells can be engineered into the equivalent of a genetic vaccine.
“We have demonstrated in this proof-of-principle study that
UCLA stem cell scientists who purified a subset of stem cells from fat tissue and used the stem cells to grow bone discovered that the bone formed faster and was of higher quality than bone grown using traditional methods.
The finding may one day eliminate the need for painful bone grafts that use material taken from patients during invasive procedures.
Adipose, or fat, tissue is thought to be an ideal source of mesenchymal stem cells — cells capable of developing into bone, cartilage, muscle and other tissues — because such cells are plentiful in the tissue and easily obtained through procedures
In an effort to identify the underlying causes of neurological disorders that impair motor functions such as walking and breathing, UCLA researchers have developed a novel system to measure communication between stem cell–derived motor neurons and muscle cells in a Petri dish.
The study provides an important proof of principle that functional motor circuits can be created outside the body using these neurons and cells and that the level of communication, or synaptic activity, between them can be accurately measured by stimulating the motor neurons with an electrode and then tracking the transfer of electrical activity into the muscle cells