An article in Science Daily referencing an Journal from Nature 2013 explores the ability to independently grow large numbers of stem cells in the lab.
This discovery was almost accidently stumbled upon by Dr. Robers. He was originally researching a blockade of the membrane protein CD47 and applied it to lung cells observing maintained growth, health, and function. He then decided to further experiment to find how CD47 effects cell growth.
Through experiment his team found that cells from mice lacking CD47 formed clusters of cells much like stem cells or (iPS cells) when exposed to growth hormones. These iPS cells could then be directed to become cells of other tissue types with different growth factors. Unlike usual rapid stem cell cultivation these cells did not form tumors when injected into mice. This discovery could not only lead to a new way to culture iPS cells but a way for patients to form more of their own iPS cells in their own body.
Circadian rhythms in fruit flies have been found to be related to the regeneration of stem cells in the flies. In an article in Science Daily, researchers have looked at the inside of fruit fly intestinal tracts to find a hotbed of stem cell regeneration. A rhythm was found in the stem cells that is key to their regeneration process.
These circadian clocks govern daily rhythms through genes that synchronize molecular pathways that promote or repress protein production, influencing a multitude of body functions.
A transcription factor of the circadian rhythm that helps to regulate gene activity is called period. Scientists discovering the period gene in the intestinal tract of the flies was shocking to some. This ultimately led to the conclusion that the period gene’s presence indicates intestinal healing fluctuates with the time of day in the flies. Scientists removed the period gene in some flies, and found them to function normally except during arrhythmic bursts of activity throughout the 24-hour day. They later studied over 400 genes in the fruit flies to find if they are rhythmically expressed in the fly intestines, and over 3% of the entire genome was found to be inactive at certain parts of the day. Scientists will now look to see if the same circadian rhythms are present in mice, with hopes to eventually use the collected data to help treat cancer patients who undergo chemotherapy. This is a reference published in Science Daily that describes the function of the circadian rhythm and provides more information on their purpose.
Heart failure, C-CURE, trails involved patients from Belgium, Switzerland and Serbia. Patients in the control group were given standard heart failure treatments and patients in the experimental group were given cardiopietic stem cells along with the standard treatment. Isolated stem cells taken from the patient’s harvested bone marrow were treated with a protein cocktail to replicate the natural process of heart development and injected into the patient’s heart. Researchers developed the protein cocktail by identifying the proteins necessary to help a stem cell become a reparative cell from the hundreds of proteins involved in the heart development process.
Within six months of the stem cell treatment, every patient in the experimental group improved significantly in comparison to the control group patients. The experimental group had a seven percent absolute improvement in ejection fraction (EF) over baseline. Heart pumping function improved, patients also had improved fitness and were able to walk longer distances compared to before treatment. This discovery paves a way for the regenerative medicine solutions.
After a spinal cord injury, many of the nerve fibers at the injury site lose their insulating layer of myelin. With this result, the fibers are not able to properly transmit signals between the brain and the spinal cord contributing to paralysis. Unfortunately, the spinal cord lacks the ability to restore these lost myelin-forming cells after trauma. Tissue engineering in the spinal cord involves the implantation of scaffold material to guide cell placement and foster cell development. These scaffolds can also be used to deliver stem cells at the site of injury and maximize their regenerative potential. When the spinal cord is damaged—either accidentally (car accidents, falls) or as the result of a disease (multiple sclerosis, infections, tumors, severe forms of spinal bifida, etc.) it can result in the loss of sensation and mobility and even in
complete paralysis. Using Stem cells as a therapy, they replace the injured neurons. Using embryonic stem cells for transplantation is controversial because it is necessary to first create human embryos to produce the stem cells and then kill the embryos in the process of “harvesting” the stem cells. Apart from the controversy about creating and killing human embryos, stem cell researchers are faced with another challenge which is partly practical and partly ethical. The body’s immune system recognizes what is part of the body and what is not. Every cell in the body has protein molecules on the surface of the cell wall that identify the cell as being part of the body. There is a chance that the cells could be rejected and the immune system would attack them. The use of stem cells can be used for a lot of other great causes, when stem cells can be extracted in a more humane way, they could change the future of health care.
Researchers in Shanghai have developed a method that utilizes haploid stem cells for genetic modification rather than diploid stem cells. Currently, diploid cells are used. This leads to chimerism in the engineered mice. This means the cells that form their bodies consist of two different genetic identities. When the haploid cells are used, this does not occur which makes the desired genetic modifications more probable.
the new process leads to mice with similar genetic identity whereas chimeras were random
A recent discovery by scientists at the MedUni Vienna’s Institute of Medical Genetics shows that there are two genes, TSC/Tuberin and PRAS40, which are crucial in regulating the development of stem cells in the human body. Research shows that without these two genes actively functioning, it is not possible for stem cells to regenerate and differentiate in to different types of cells that are necessary for optimal human growth. “The human body maintains a stable equilibrium between cell death and the breakdown of tissue and the regeneration of tissue from stem cells. Stem cells have the potential to develop into other types of cells such as skin, muscle or nerve cells and are therefore crucial for the rebuilding of tissue.”
In a recent article published in Science Daily discusses how we might have a potential cure for HIV. Researchers in UCLA were able to test engineered stem cells in mice, that were able to decrease the levels if HIV in blood. The stem cells were engineered to become multi-functional HIV specific CD8 cells that only target HIV, not being able to damage any other part of the body.
In the study there was a slight weakness: “Human immune cells reconstituted at a lower level in the humanized mice than they would in humans, and as a result, the mice’s immune systems were mostly, though not completely, reconstructed.” In order to solve this dilemma; the scientists can use multiple forms of T-cell receptors, to compensate for high levels of HIV mutation in humans.
Human stem cells are very controversial in modern science. They have been used for many different things that some do not agree with, but everyone can agree that finding a cure for HIV would be a miracle. This miracle may actually be possible with the use of stem cells. At UCLA, a team of researchers have shown that genetically engineered stem cells can attack HIV-infected cells in a living organism.
This group of researchers were able to use stem cells in order to make a higher quanitity of CD8 cytoxic T lymphocytes. These new cells were made to target any cells containing HIV proteins. This new study was tested on mice in order to prove that it was actually possible. After giving the HIV infected mice the new genetically engineered cells, weeks later it was found that there were more and more T lymphocytes and less HIV in the blood. This may mean that the possibility of finding a cure to HIV is possible, and we may be closer than we thought.
In this article, it explains that the federal government has can continue to do research in stem cells research. A U.S. appeals court cleared the way Friday for continued federal funding of research using human embryonic stem cells, a ruling that scientists hailed as a victory for medical progress. Stem cells from embryos are believed to hold great promise for treating hard-to-treat illnesses or conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease or spinal cord injuries. The U.S. court of appeals in Washington, which blocked Lamberth’s injunction while it considered an appeal, called this an “entirely reasonable” interpretation of the law. And when in doubt, the judges say they defer to an agency’s long-standing view. This is important because the research that is done will help with people with genetic disorder and also, it will further research in the field of genetics.
For years, stem cell research has been a very controversial topic. Research on stem cells could prove to aid the human race in a big way, but the way in which the stem cells are collected causes a great amount of opposition to the use of them. For the most versatile stem cells to be collected, it meant destroying human embryos. So to avoid the disdain of the public, scientists have been trying to find new ways to collect stem cells that does not involve the destruction of embryos. “It’s an exciting time in stem cell biology for a host of reasons,” says Paul Fairchild, co-director of the newly founded Oxford Stem Cell Institute. “We’ve entered a whole new phase in the stem cell field, which has been held up enormously by ethical issues for over a decade.” What is causing all this stem cell, non-embryo buzz? Induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells
stem cells completing the process of mitosis
. These iPS cells avoid the ethical issues faced by stem cell collection, are easier to make, give scientists an inexhaustible supply of material, and bring the scientific world a step closer to the hoped-for treatments that could be provided by stem cells. In 2007, Shinya Yamanaka at Kyoto University in Japan demonstrated a way to produce embryonic stem (ES)-like cells without the use of eggs. “He took a skin cell and, using a virus, inserted four specific bits of DNA into the skin cell’s nucleus. The skin cell incorporated the genetic material and was regressed into an ES-like cell”. With that, a few experiments later, scientists had a near-limitless supply of stem cells that seemed to be just as good as ES cells.
This new way of harvesting stem cells may seem like it has no downside, but there are still some bugs that need to be worked out with the iPS cell. A lab in Helsinki found genetic abnormalities when creating the iPS cells, in which they reported the deletion or amplification of certain strands of DNA. Another concern is stemmed from the same traits that make them so great for a laboratory. The iPS cells are both versatile and practically immortal, and these cells left in a person unchecked could prove to be disastrous. I believe that these cells are worth looking into further. The idea of what stem cells are capable of is amazing as it is, but the collection of them has been conceived as non-ethical and has held up the research for years. These iPS cells could alter the scientific world as we know it… once they get the bugs worked out.