Stem Cells in the News - April 2018
Tuesday, March 27, 2018 - 09:45
We have captured this month's most interesting, innovative, and maybe some of the strangest examples of stem cells in the news from around the world.
A team of researchers at the University of Cambridge are developing an innovative way to repair heart tissue after a major heart attack: stem cell patches! Cardiomyocytes are derived from induced pluripotent stem cells and, using a scaffold, these cells are transplanted onto the damaged area of the heart. Their work has shown promising results in a mouse model. This technology could alleviate the demand for heart transplants and provide a more economical way to maintain heart health after damage.
It is well-known that many people lose strength and muscle function with old age, and a team at the Karolinska Institutet may have identified a key reason for this – accumulating mutations in skeletal muscle stem cells. Their findings have identified that certain regions of the genome of mesenchymal stem cells appear to be better conserved, while others are more susceptible to mutation. The high mutational load had a direct correlation with muscle function in animal studies. These findings could help people retain muscle function and strength as they age, living healthier, longer lives.
Scientists at the London Institute of Medical Sciences have discovered a molecular explanation for a developmental barrier that has historically blocked in vitro culturing functional egg and sperm from primordial germ cells (PGCs). This finding describes chemical modifications of DNA and histone-associated proteins that allow development in vivo and a genetic deletion that could allow for researchers to completely develop gametes fully in vitro.
Researchers at Stanford University have developed a technique to identify risk of relapse in some cases of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) following treatment. The technique, which utilizes mass spectrometry of single cancer cells and cancer stem cells, can identify a tiny population of malignant cells that, if present, indicates a higher likelihood of relapse. While every individual cancer is slightly different, and the need for precision medicine continues, the study results show that this technique predicts relapse 85% of the time.
Mesenchymal stem cells in the mouth behave differently from those on the skin. Researchers from UCLA discovered that gingival mesenchymal stem cells (GMSCs) produce proteins that help the mouth heal much faster than skin, with reduced scarring. Their findings have shown that GMSCs over-produce IL1RA, which dampens inflammation, and they excrete a lot more cytokines. These cells could be utilized to reduce scar formation following surgery, enhance wound healing, and even possibly treat autoimmune disease.
Researchers from the University of Cambridge have published a study demonstrating the use of embryonic stem cells (ESCs) differentiated to neural stem cells as a potential treatment for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) when injected into the cerebral spinal fluid directly. The study, published in Cell Stem Cell, noted the high levels of succinate in MS mouse models. When the researchers injected both reprogrammed neurons and neural stem cells, the succinate levels fall drastically and prevent microglia from inducing high levels of inflammation in the brain.
Scientists at the University of Texas at Dallas published a novel method for the identification and isolation of cancer stem cells. The team screened 40,000 compounds to see if any would selectively bind breast cancer stem cells, and no other cancer cells. They have identified five compounds that met these criteria and plan to proceed with further testing of one of the compounds in the near future.
Researchers from the Whitehead Institute have published findings that describe, for the first time, a systems-level understanding of how stem cells regenerate in predictable and specific locations within tissue. The work, which was done in flatworms, define a set of three principles that occur in concert to direct regeneration. A higher-level understanding of this process opens the door for research into organ regeneration and potential for clinical interventions to support regeneration in different disease states.
Earlier this month, Bio-Techne announced the release of an innovative 3-D culture system for the gastrointestinal tract: MimEX™ GI. This technology utilizes adult stem cells to generate 3-D gastrointestinal epithelial tissue on a 2-D surface. The platform makes in vivo-like tissue that is accessible for drug and toxin screening, disease modeling and biomarker discovery. Learn more about the MimEX GI Tissue Model System.
A new lineage of stem cells has been discovered in the lungs of both mice and humans. These alveolar epithelial progenitor (AEP) cells have been identified by a team of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and have been found to rapidly multiply following pulmonary injury. These stem cells could lay the foundation for new treatments for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), lung damage from viral infections, and lung transplantation.