In this month's issue of Nature, Haruko Obokata and colleagues have made a breakthrough in the field of stem cell research, where they describe a unique cellular reprogramming phenomenon in which skin and blood cells could be converted into stem cells without the need to physically manipulate the nucleus or over-express reprogramming genes. Rather, the researchers subjected them to stress "almost to the point of death", by exposing them to various events including trauma, low oxygen levels and acidic environments. One of these "stressful" situations was simply to bathe the cells in a weak acid solution for about 30 minutes. Within days, the scientists found the cells had not only survived but had also recovered by naturally reverting into a state similar to that of an embryonic stem cell. The research suggests human cells could in future be reprogrammed by the same technique, offering a simpler way to replace damaged cells or grow new organs for sick and injured people. [more inside]
Six and a half hours of surgery later, he and his colleagues had dug out small chunks of bone from the woman's eyelid and tissue surrounding her eye, which was scratched but largely intact. The clicks she heard were the bone fragments grinding against one another.
With the passing of Executive Order 13505, Removing Barriers to Responsible Scientific Research Involving Human Stem Cells, in 2009 President Obama expanded federal funding and rescinded George W. Bush's policies that eliminated most federal funding and restricted human embryonic stem cell research to the use of existing, contaminated cell lines. On Monday, federal judge Royce C. Lamberth blocked this new order after protestations from James L. Sherley, a former scientist with the Boston Biomedical Research Institute, and Theresa Deisher, who operates the Ave Maria Biotechnology Company, which aims to do "pro-life" therapeutic research without the "taint of embryonic or electively aborted fetal materials". [more inside]
Stem Cell Research: An interesting argument on why Bush's policy on stem cell research doesn't make sense.
"A lot of time is being wasted" Nancy Reagan lobbies for stem cell research. Some things never change.