Archive for February 14th, 2011|Daily archive page

How Nasal Stem Cells Might Prevent Childhood Deafness

In VICTORIES & SUCCESS STORIES on February 14, 2011 at 4:08 pm
How Nasal Stem Cells Might Prevent Childhood Deafness

Australian scientists have shown for the first time in mice that nasal stem cells injected into the inner ear have the potential to reverse or restore hearing during early onset sensorineural hearing loss.

Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when hearing cells in the cochlea lose their function. Frequently inherited, and usually starting during infancy and early childhood, the condition can slow a child’s development and lead to speech and language problems.

Drs Jeremy Sullivan, Sonali Pandit and Sharon Oleskevich from Sydney’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research, found that stem cells appear to release ‘factors’, or chemical substances, that help preserve the function of cochlear hearing cells, without the stem cells becoming part of the tissue of the inner ear. Their findings are published in Stem Cells, now online.

“We are exploring the potential of stem cells to prevent or restore hearing loss in people,” said project leader Dr Sharon Oleskevich.

“The mice we are using have a very similar form of childhood deafness to their human counterparts – except, of course, that mouse years are shorter. So a mouse will tend to lose their hearing within 3 months, where a person might take 8 years.”

“We are encouraged by our initial findings, because all the mice injected with stem cells showed improved hearing in comparison with those given a sham injection. Roughly half of the mice did very well indeed, although it is important to note that hearing was not completely restored to normal hearing levels.”

Adult human nasal stem cells were used in the procedure, because they are plentiful, easy to obtain and unspecialised (so have the ability to self-renew for long periods, as well as differentiate into cells with a variety of functions).

The same group of scientists has shown in previous publications that stem cells can also be used to improve hearing in noise-induced hearing loss – a condition that affects both young and older people.

It has taken 5 years to reach the current stage of research, and scientists anticipate that it will take a further decade at least for the findings to benefit people.


This research was supported by the Fairfax Foundation and the Australian Deafness Research Foundation. We received much help from ear surgeons at St. Vincent’s Hospital, in particular Dr John Tonkin and Professor Paul Fagan. Also from Professor Alan Mackay-Sim, Director of the National Adult Stem Cell Research Centre at Griffith University in Brisbane, who supplied the stem cells used in the project.

Source: Garvan Institute of Medical Research

How Nasal Stem Cells Might Prevent Childhood Deafness.


Autism recreated from stem cells in lab study

In VICTORIES & SUCCESS STORIES on February 14, 2011 at 3:54 pm

INDUCED PLURIPOTENT STEM CELLS (IPSC) are not the stem cells we usually hear about because they are human skin cells (typically) that are regressed to an embryonic state.  The problem with the is that they carry the genetic abnormalities of the donor and they form cysts and tumors like embryonic stem cells.  SO they are useless for treating diseases until these problems are resolved.  Or are they?  Scientists have used IPSC to grow cells with Autism.  They can now follow the path of the disease  almost from embryo to fully mature cells and will learn a lot more about it. – dg


“Their findings, published in the Nov. 12, 2010, issue of Cell, revealed disease-specific cellular defects, such as fewer functional connections between Rett neurons, and demonstrated that these symptoms are reversible, raising the hope that, one day, autism maybe turn into a treatable condition.

“Mental disease and particularly autism still carry the stigma of bad parenting,” says lead author Alysson Muotri, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Medicine at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.

“We show very clearly that autism is a biological disease that is caused by a developmental defect directly affecting brain cells.”

Stem cell research news: Autism recreated from stem cells in lab study – Gilbert Special Needs Kids | Examiner.com.


In VICTORIES & SUCCESS STORIES on February 14, 2011 at 2:38 pm

“Scientists have created a ‘Mighty Mouse’ with muscles that stay powerful as it grows old,” the Daily Mail has reported. The newspaper said the ‘breakthrough’ paves the way for a “pill to give pensioners the strength of their youth, cutting the risks of falls and fractures in old age”.

The story comes from research on mice that found that transplanting donor muscle stem cells into injured leg muscles led to a 50% increase in muscle mass and a 170% increase in muscle size. The improvements were maintained though the lifetime of the mouse.


Stem cells to hypersonic vehicles

In SCIENCE & STEM CELLS on February 14, 2011 at 2:26 pm
Stem cells to hypersonic vehicles: Four young scientists win presidential award

The “early career” researchers will receive up to five years of funding from the federal government to pursue important research.


Four Stanford researchers, one each from Biology, Mechanical Engineering, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and the School of Medicine, have won a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.

The winners are Dominique Bergmann, assistant professor of biology; Gianluca Iaccarino, assistant professor of mechanical engineering; Jacob Wacker, theoretical physicist at SLAC; and Joseph Wu, associate professor of medicine and radiology.

The award is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on outstanding scientists and engineers in the early stages of their research careers. The winners will receive research grants to pursue their research for up to five more years.

The four Stanford recipients are looking for answers in a variety of areas:

Dominique BergmannDominque Bergmann

Bergmann studies cells of the diminutive Arabidopsis plant to understand the general rules of stem cell behavior, including how the cells balance the need for constant division without becoming cancerous. Stem cells can divide for nearly 1,000 years in some long-lived plants, and yet plants, unlike animals, don’t develop cancer. Bergmann looks at the generation of stomata, the microscopic pores on the surface of plants that allow for gas exchange, as a model for stem cells.

When a mother cell divides into two, the resulting daughter cells can sometimes differ in size and function, a process called asymmetric division. Both plants and animals use asymmetric divisions to maintain stem-cell populations. Bergmann uses the asymmetric division pattern of stomata cells to identify genes that regulate these uneven divisions.

Gianluca IaccarinoGianluca Iaccarino

Iaccarino‘s work focuses on computer simulation of the complex physics of “air-breathing hypersonic vehicles” – wickedly fast jet airplanes that fly several times the speed of sound. His work contributes to the understanding of turbulent flow and margins of uncertainty.

Hypersonic vehicles are envisioned as a means for reliable low-cost access to space. Their design depends on complex physics and the interactions between all of their components. The simulation capabilities of today’s state-of-the-art computing can not reliably predict the outcome of a design; the answers will require a radically new integrated approach. The Department of Energy will fund his research.

Jacob WackerJacob Wacker

Wacker, an assistant professor of particle physics and astrophysics, seeks to explain physics beyond the Standard Model, a set of laws governing the known particles and forces in the universe.

His research, funded by the Department of Energy, includes probing the existence of exotic particles and combing through data to validate or refute theories about the nature and origin of dark matter – a mysterious, invisible substance thought to make up nearly 80 percent of all the matter in the universe.

He also works closely with experimental physicists, offering new theories to be tested and providing theoretical explanations for the hiccups sometimes seen in experimental data sets.

Joseph WuJoseph Wu

Wu studies how embryonic and adult stem cells survive, proliferate and transform into other cell types. Wu approaches his research with an eye toward clinical treatment and is investigating the potential of stem cells to form tumors or be rejected by the immune system. He also works on techniques that can turn developed cells, like skin cells, into induced pluripotent stem cells without depending on possibly dangerous viruses, a risky feature of early methods.

Additionally, Wu is exploring ways to safely and effectively deliver genes to improve damaged heart cells. His grant is from the National Institutes of Health.

“These gifted young scientists and engineers represent the best in our country,” said Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, a former Stanford researcher. “The awards recognize ingenuity, dedication, diligence and talent.”

Susan Young is a science-writing intern at the Stanford News Service.

MRI contrast agents change stem cell proliferation

In OFF THE BEATEN PATH on February 14, 2011 at 2:19 pm

MRI contrast agents change stem cell proliferation

Tampa, Fla. (Nov. 01, 2010) – When researchers tested three different labeling agents on three different stem cell populations to determine what effect the labeling agents had on stem cell phenotype, biological behavior and migration abilities, they found changes in stem cell proliferation depending on the type of contrast agent used…









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