Discoveries may advance stem cell therapy for Parkinson’s, cancer patients

Two studies in the Jan. 27, 2006 issue of Cell have yielded evidence that could prove a boon for stem cell therapies aimed at patients with Parkinson’s disease and those with compromised immune systems due to intensive cancer therapy or autoimmune disease, according to researchers. The basic findings in mice revealed critical factors that determine the fate of one type of nerve cell progenitor and that set bone marrow stem cells into action.

Researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden discovered a “master determinant” that turns embryonic stem cells into bona fide dopamine neurons, brain cells that degenerate in those with Parkinson’s disease. The findings hold promise for the future of cell replacement therapy for the debilitating and incurable disease characterized by tremors, said study authors Thomas Perlmann and Johan Ericson. The results also underscore the general importance of a thorough understanding of development for producing authentic cells of a desired type from stem cells.
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Researchers develop all-in-one remote control gene expression tool derived from HIV

In an article appearing online today in the journal Nature Methods, researchers at the EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne) unveil a powerful new tool that will facilitate genetic research and open up new avenues for the clinical treatment of genetic disease.

An all-in-one tool like this – efficiently combining techniques that each previously required separate delivery – will likely see wide use in genetic research and in clinical gene therapy applications. It is particularly applicable for use in stem cells, embryonic cells and tissues and organs that are amenable to genetic transduction.
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Activation of a protein solidifies fear memory in the brain

When activated, a specific protein in the brain enhances long-term storage of fearful memories and strengthens previously established fearful memories, Yale School of Medicine researchers report this week in Nature Neuroscience.

“This report is the first to demonstrate evidence of enhancements in memory reconsolidation in the brain,” said the senior author, Jane Taylor, associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry. “Understanding these molecular mechanisms may provide critical insights into psychiatric disorders.”
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Powerful new technique for multiplying adult stem cells may aid therapies

Adult stem cells may be free of the ethical concerns that hamper embryonic stem cell research, but they still pose formidable scientific challenges. Chief among these is the doggedness with which adult stem cells differentiate into mature tissue the moment they’re isolated from the body. This makes it nearly impossible for researchers to multiply them in the laboratory. And because adult stem cells are so rare, that makes it difficult to use them for treating disease.

Now, researchers in the lab of Whitehead Institute Member and MIT professor of biology Harvey Lodish have discovered a way to multiply an adult stem cell 30-fold, an expansion that offers tremendous promise for treatments such as bone marrow transplants and perhaps even gene therapy.

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Decoding the cellular machinary

Researchers from Germany announce they have finished the first complete analysis of the “molecular machines” in one of biology’s most important model organisms: S. cerevisiae (baker’s yeast).

The study combined a method of extracting complete protein complexes from cells (tandem affinity purification, developed in 2001 by Bertrand Séraphin at EMBL), mass spectrometry and bioinformatics to investigate the entire protein household of yeast, turning up 257 machines that had never been observed. It also revealed new components of nearly every complex already known.
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Cool blog of the week: Al Fin

This week’s cool blog site is Al Fin .The primary interest of the author is to see best of humanity survives long enough to reach the next level.

The site features cool new technological advances, many in biology, in a unique and clean fashion, which are occasionally accompanied with visually stimulating pictures. Most posts also contain well written commentaries that provide interesting perspectives to stories.

Al Fin also has one of the most extensive and well organized links of interest I have seen. There are many interesting links from machine intelligence to outer space, meticulously found and listed.

Al Fin is a great blog that I highly recommend.

Scientists develop process for creating biocompatible fibers

Scientists at Virginia Tech have developed a single-step process for creating nonwoven fibrous mats from a small organic molecule – creating a new nanoscale material with potential applications where biocompatible materials are required, such as scaffolds for tissue growth and drug delivery. Continue reading “Scientists develop process for creating biocompatible fibers”