Scientists Progress in Quest to Grow Muscle Tissue in Labs - "The researchers are now working on optimizing the growth of human muscle tissue, including finding a way to get blood flow to the tissue, the best source of cells and the best growing medium for the cells."
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.
Dr. Jörg C. Gerlach has developed a new device for applying a regenerative skin and stem cell slurry onto burn victims in an airbrush-like spray - providing astounding results in mere days. (Warning - mildly graphic images of severe burns being remedied with SCIENCE!)
Stem cell transplant has cured HIV infection in 'Berlin patient', say doctors. Doctors who carried out a stem cell transplant on an HIV-infected man with leukaemia in 2007 say they now believe the man to have been cured of HIV infection as a result of the treatment, which introduced stem cells which happened to be resistant to HIV infection.
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to Responsible Scientific Research Involving Human Stem Cells, in 2009 President Obama expanded federal funding and rescinded George W. Bush's policies that eliminated most federal funding and restricted human embryonic stem cell research to the use of existing, contaminated cell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]
Claudia Castillo's new bronchus is the result of stem-cell research. The first hollow tube body part is transplanted with no rejection issues. A lab in Italy stripped the donor trachea of living tissue leaving a collagen matrix. Claudia's stem cells were grown in a Bristol lab, (all 6 million of them) to flesh it out, so to speak. Epithelial cells from her nose & lungs formed the lining. But...... [more inside]
Scientists Repurpose Adult Cells - "Scientists have transformed one type of fully developed adult cell directly into another inside a living animal, a startling advance that could lead to cures for a variety of illnesses and sidestep the political and ethical quagmires associated with embryonic stem cell research." [nature abstract, nature writeup, audio announcement]
Grow your own spare parts. At last we're regenerating properly. Scientists took stem cells from patients fat tissue, cultivated bone cells from them, crafted a nice comfy titanium cage where to grow and put the cage into man's abdomen. After 9 months, install new upper jaw.
First cloning of monkey embryo raises hope of a great leap in medical science. A team at the Oregon National Primate Research Center (itself no stranger to controversy) cloned embryos from Semos — a nine-year-old rhesus macaque named after the ape overlord in Planet of the Apes — then extracted stem cells from the embryos. We've heard similar claims before and they turned out to be a hoax. But this time it looks like the real deal. [more inside]
Virgin Health Bank : It's not what you think. Richard Branson has started a hybrid (pun intended) umbilical cord blood bank. There has been a fascinating ongoing debate over whether the blood-forming hematopoietic stem cells found in umbilical cords should be banked privately (for individual, autologous use, not accessible to public registries) or publically (for allogeneic use). Branson's alternative requires parents to split their cord blood unit: 80% for the public bank and 20% for their own private banking. The parents pay $3000 or so for their "biological insurance" and if anyone in the world needs the public portion of the cord blood unit, they can have it free-of-charge.
Stem Cell Research: An interesting argument on why Bush's policy on stem cell research doesn't make sense.
Is Your Baby Gay? Southern Baptist theologian Albert Mohler has come out to support stem cell research: If a biological basis [for homosexuality] is found, and if a prenatal test is then developed, and if a successful treatment to reverse the sexual orientation to heterosexual is ever developed, we would support its use as we should unapologetically support the use of any appropriate means to avoid sexual temptation and the inevitable effects of sin.
A virgin birth? No, but a virgin hatch. The process by which this happened is nothing new, but appears to be the first recorded instance in this species. Maybe this phenomenon could also help solve a controversial human problem.
When headlines go wrong: Is a human/cow hybrid really the alternative to controversial stem cell research? Some scientists at Newcastle University apparently think so. Still, is using animal eggs with human genes a whole other ethical can of worms, or just a convenient workaround?
Congressman dies of rare disease Congressman Bob Matsui, who was recently elected to a 14th term in Congress, has died due to a rare stem cell disease. Matsui, who was one of the leading opponents of President Bush's plan to eliminate Social Security, was the ranking Democrat on the Congressional subcommittee on Social Security.
Monster Farming: The Creepy Solution to the Stem Cell Debate. MSN Slate's William Saletan: "The good news is that we may have figured out how to solve the moral problem that's been holding up stem-cell research. The bad news is that the solution will introduce a whole new kind of horror."
The FDA has put the brakes on clinical trials of a promising form of stem cell therapy which uses the body's own stem cells to heal dammage. The procedure was used earlier this year to heal the heart of a teenager who was shot in the heart by a nail gun. Other research is being done with the body's own stem cells on the heart and the spinal cord, and new ways to produce large numbers of adult stem cells have been discovered by MIT and the British company TriStem. With the controversy over embryonic stem cells, I'm glad that adult stem cell therapy is showing promise. [Some links via FuturePundit, who is rather annoyed with the FDA.]
"A lot of time is being wasted" Nancy Reagan lobbies for stem cell research. Some things never change.
Controversial new bill to lay out reproductive technology guidelines. Canadian version of this battle doesn't seem to feature as many religious wackos. It's just not as fun without them.
Bush and Pro-Lifers call for complete ban on any clone or stem cell research. The movement for a ban got a significant boost Tuesday when Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said he would support the cloning ban legislation, which the Senate is expected to debate in the weeks ahead. Though not a surprise, the announcement from Frist, a heart-transplant surgeon, is important because his views on medical topics are respected by many in Congress. "Many are overpromising on the science" benefits that are possible from cloning, Frist told reporters. He also said creating a human embryo "for reason of experimentation leads to destruction of that embryo and to me that is morally unacceptable."
Someone else's Religion or your health? How the Catholic church is manipulating medical research in the United States. Stem cell research offers some exciting opportunities for medicine but the Pope doesn't think so.