‘Stressed’ Stem Cell Breakthrough

Researchers have transformed specialized cells into an embryonic-like state simply by stressing them out a bit—an unexpected finding that may offer an easier route for treating diseases with patient-specific stem cells.

Stem cells that can become all other tissue types are typically obtained in two ways. One requires the destruction of an embryonic clone of a patient, which is ethically controversial. The other, which uses genes to reprogram a patient\’s mature cells into an embryonic-like state, carries the risk of cancer.

Now, in a series of pathbreaking experiments done over five years, scientists have shown that merely exposing blood cells from newborn mice to a low-acid environment—the source of stress—changes them to an embryonic-like state. The key advantage is that no potentially risky genetic manipulation was needed.

via ‘Stressed’ Stem Cell Breakthrough – WSJ.com.

3D Imaging of Live Cells

New Technique Shows Living Cells In 3-D

A new method of creating 3-D images of living cells without disturbing them promises to open an unprecedented view into how they operate.

University of Illinois engineers say the technique, called white-light diffraction tomography, will let researchers watch cellular processes as they unfold, the effects of drugs and how stem cells change into specialized cells.

The technique uses conventional microscopes and white light, so scientists don’t have to bathe bacterial or other cells in dyes, other chemicals, radiation or mechanical forces that would destroy them.


Angioplasty and its revolutionary impact over 50 years

In the 1960s patients with a blocked artery would have required major open surgery and a hospital stay of a week or more.

Half a century on, patients are treated in a matter of hours and return home the same day – and it\’s all thanks to the angioplasty procedure.

Dr Duncan Ettles, president of the British Society of Interventional Radiology and a consultant vascular radiologist, says it has had a revolutionary impact on medicine.

Instead of opening up blood vessels to remove a blockage, doctors can access and treat them simply by inserting a catheter into an artery and following its movements on an X-ray screen.An image of a stent inserted into a coronary artery to keep it open

via BBC News – Angioplasty and its revolutionary impact over 50 years.

Neural prosthesis restores behavior after brain injury

Scientists from Case Western Reserve University and University of Kansas Medical Center have restored behavior—in this case, the ability to reach through a narrow opening and grasp food—using a neural prosthesis in a rat model of brain injury.

Ultimately, the team hopes to develop a device that rapidly and substantially improves function after brain injury in humans. There is no such commercial treatment for the 1.5 million Americans, including soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, who suffer traumatic brain injuries (TBI), or the nearly 800,000 stroke victims who suffer weakness or paralysis in the United States, annually.

The prosthesis, called a brain-machine-brain interface, is a closed-loop microelectronic system. It records signals from one part of the brain, processes them in real time, and then bridges the injury by stimulating a second part of the brain that had lost connectivity.

Their work is published online this week in the science journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Human brain









via Neural prosthesis restores behavior after brain injury | PsyPost.

‘Beige’ cells key to healthy fat

“Beige fat” cells found in healthy subcutaneous fat in mice play a critical role in protecting the body from the disease risks of obesity, report researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, who say their study findings may have implications for therapy of obesity-related illness in humans.

A report in the journal Cell suggests that the presence of beige fat, a type of fat cell that can burn energy to release heat, is what makes subcutaneous obesity relatively healthy compared with visceral fat inside the abdomen, which largely lacks beige fat cells and is associated with increased risks of diabetes, heart disease, and death.

Excess calories in overweight people are stored in fatty tissues mainly composed of white fat cells. Beige fat is present in scattered deposits in adult humans, mixed in with white fat. Beige cells can activate a “thermogenic” mechanism that burns stored fat to make heat. When this occurs within white fat, the process is called “browning.”

via ‘Beige’ cells key to healthy fat | Harvard Gazette.

Obesity and Diabetes: Why There Is No Obesity Paradox

Recent studies suggesting that heavier people with diabetes have lower death rates than normal weight patients may be a myth.

A strong body of research shows that being overweight or obese puts people at risk for chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, cancer and even early death. But several small studies connecting obesity to a protective effect against type 2 diabetes-related death have raised questions about a possible ‘obesity paradox,’ and whether weight can be a benefit in preventing progression of the disease. A 2012 study published in the journal JAMA, for example, studied 2,625 people recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, of which only 12% were normal weight. But the larger people with diabetes lived longer than their thinner peers.

Why the heavier people lived longer wasn’t clear; the researchers speculated that genetics, or the type of fat that certain obese people accumulated compared to normal weight individuals could be responsible.

But in a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, scientists say that’s unlikely. “We didn’t see this protective effect at all,” the study’s leader, Diedre Tobias of the Harvard School of Public Health, told the Associated Press. “The lowest risk was seen in the normal-weight category.”

via Obesity and Diabetes: Why There Is No Obesity Paradox | TIME.com.