Posts Tagged ‘gene’


In STEM CELLS IN THE NEWS on October 8, 2015 at 12:40 pm
Don’t get me wrong. I love science. I am fascinated, jazzed and awed by what we can do with modern technology. It’s just that, every now and then, I feel like someone is really missing the boat and creating a very complicated solution for a simple problem.
There’s a great story about how NASA spent millions to develop a pen which could write in zero gravity.  The punchline? The Russians just used a pencil.  Ironically, the Zero G Space Pen story isn’t true.  Lead pencils were used on all US Mercury and Gemini space flights and all Russian space flights prior to 1968.  In December 1967 Paul C. Fisher sold 400 zero G writing and NASA tested and approved Fisher Space Pens to NASA for $2.95 each.  He developed the Fisher Space Pen privately with his own money.  But is there something to learn here?  Are we missing the forest for the trees?  The pencil for the pen?  Are we overthinking and under working problems and coming up with solutions which are way more complicated than necessary?
A TV show had this exchange:
JOEY:  “The Federal Government shouldn’t be directing scientific research.”
SAM:  “Why?”
JOEY:  “Because you stink at it. ‘If it was up to the NIH to cure polio through a centrally directed program. . . You’d have the best iron lung in the world but not a polio vaccine.'”
SAM:  “When did you get an M.D.?”
JOEY:  “I was just quoting Samuel Broder. . . . The former director of the National Cancer Institute.”
Sometimes we need to take a step back and view the problem, the whole problem, in a different way than we have been trained to, been conditioned to and been told to.
Imagine you needed a hammer.  So you went to a glass manufacturer to design and fabricate an awesome hammer. Why a glass manufacturer?
Maybe that’s all you know.
Maybe someone else told you you had to use them.
Maybe your were born in Plato’s cave and all you saw in front of you were glass manufacturers.

In any case, that’s where you went. So, after 8 years of research and $250 million you had the end all be all, most incredible, awesome-est unbreakable, high strength glass hammer in the world. Cool huh? What we can do is astounding… but at some point, shouldn’t we ask ourselves whether we are over complicating the problem?  Couldn’t you have gotten a regular hammer from the hardware store for $12.92.  Or used a rock.  Or the heel of your shoe.  And saved 8 years and a quarter million dollars.

There is an article called “Small Non-Coding RNAs Can Cross The Placenta, Scientists Say” based on the Nanjing University study “Li et al. (2015) Small Non-coding RNAs Transfer Through Mammalian Placenta And Directly Regulate Fetal Gene Expression”  In it, researchers claim that small exogenous RNAs from plants eaten by a mother can cross the placenta and affect fetal development.  Further,
“Exogenous small RNAs in food not only affect pregnant female, but influence fetus development as well. The dietary patterns of the mother will influence the fetus or even determine the postnatal health status. Dietary bias or other unhealthy dietary habits would also affect the fetus health by disrupting the balance of transplacental miRNAs or even cause a fetus—origin adult disease. This finding also reveals the possibility that maternal small-noncoding RNAs participate in fetal epigenetic regulation during pregnancy. Thus, the pathological status of the mother will result in an abnormal endogenous miRNA profile per se, which will also influence fetal health.”
Fascinating.  What Mom eats can change the gene expression in the fetus, possibly even causing ‘origin adult disease.’
So what’s my issue?
Professor Hu Yali, from the department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Nanjing Drum Tower Hospital says:
“This finding also proposes a brand new potential strategy to treat fetal diseases in utero. Given that artificial synthetic siRNAs can transfer through placenta, we can try to use gene therapy to treat fetal disease by maternal administration,” Hu said.
…or since small exogenous RNAs from plants eaten by a mother can cross the placenta and affect fetal development
…we could
…you know
…have pregnant moms eat more salads.


In ALL ARTICLES, BUSINESS OF STEM CELLS on July 5, 2014 at 10:20 am
It May Take Guts to Cure Diabetes -Human GI Cells Retrained to Produce Insulin

Imagine taking cells from your gastrointestinal tract and then switching off one gene, the FOXO1 gene, and then ending up with insulin producing cells.  From gut cell to diabetes fighter in one easy gene switch-off.  Scientists did this successfully in 2012 in mice and recently in humans.  What does the FOXO1 say? ‘Here’s more insulin!’  Awesome.

The next step is where it gets…awkward.  I’d like this information to generate a gene therapy protocol or to improve success rates in stem cell/Diabetes treatment protocols,  etc.  But that’s not the way our system works.  The next step is to find a drug that inhibits the FOXO1 gene so it “…could retrain cells inside a person’s GI tract to produce insulin…”  Unfortunately, this drug will also have side effects as all drugs do which will create other symptoms requiring other drugs to mitigate.  And so it goes.

When will US Diabetes patients be able to benefit from a medical protocol based on this discovery?  An educated guess puts it at:
7-10 years for clinical trials and drug development for a name brand Pharma product and then 10-15 years for the drug patent to open up to an affordable generic.
Sorry Diabetes patients.

New York, NY (June 30, 2014) “By switching off a single gene, scientists at Columbia University’s Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center have converted human gastrointestinal cells into insulin-producing cells, demonstrating in principle that a drug could retrain cells inside a person’s GI tract to produce insulin…The Columbia researchers were able to teach human gut cells to make insulin in response to physiological circumstances by deactivating the cells’ FOXO1 gene.”



A Sight for Sore Eyes
Author: Sarah Hoffman

“Researchers have grown part of an eye in a lab dish, using a type of stem cell made from a piece of skin.

They said the little retina started growing and developing on its own — an important step towards creating custom-tailored organs in the lab.”

Earlier this month scientists successfully created a functioning human retina using iPSCs (induced pluripotent stem cells). But that’s not the cool part. What’s actually amazing is that they did very little to make this happen.

Wait what?! Ok let me explain. These researchers took some of these cells from a tiny little piece of human skin, basically rewound time as far as these cells are concerned and pushed them back to a more-or-less embryonic state, sent signals to some genes manipulating them to form a retina, and then let it do it’s thing. And it was a success! This little retina is living in a dish just sensing light and being a badass little organ. Even the scientists didn’t realize this would happen so naturally

Gene therapy shows promise for Parkinson’s | Reuters

In VICTORIES & SUCCESS STORIES on March 17, 2011 at 11:02 am

I’m glad to see other therapies are producing benefits to Parkinson’s patients.

There now seems to be 3 options for Parkinson’s patients:
Gene therapy = 23.1 % improvement
Placebo effect = 12.7 % improvement

Adult Stem Cells = 60 % improvement*

* 60% PARKINSON’S PATIENTS IMPROVE AFTER REPAIR STEM CELL TREATMENT – PHYSICIANS CONFIRM RESULTS! https://repairstemcell.wordpress.com/2010/02/06/60-parkinsons-patients-improve-after-repair-stem-cell-treatment-physicians-confirm-results/


Gene therapy article below pic

“The treated group showed a 23.1 percent improvement on a scale of Parkinson’s symptoms six months after treatment, compared to a 12.7 percent improvement for patients who received sham surgery, according to the published research.”

Gene therapy shows promise for Parkinson’s | Reuters.

GENE WILDER: SECRET OF LIFE – Celebrity News | Gossip – National Enquirer

In CELEBRITIES & STEM CELLS on May 18, 2010 at 4:15 am

Gene battled non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 1999.  He went through chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant, and in 2002 doctors confirmed his cancer was in remission.


Photo by: Walter Mirisch Corp. “Willy Wonka”

Willy Wonka star GENE WILDER — on beyond Oompa Loompas.

The legendary comic actor says he’s found the secret to extending his life — his two new dogs!

At a reading of his new collection of short stories – What Is This Thing Called Love? – at a New York City bookstore , the cancer survivor, 76, gushed about brand-new pooches Maltese and Maltipoo.

“When we got them, I figured they would either shorten my life or lengthen my life,” he quipped, sitting on stage with fourth wife, Karen Webb.

“I wasn’t really sure which it would be. But now I think they are lengthening it, because we play together and we have a lot of fun together.”

Gene – famous for his roles in Blazing Saddles, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, The Frisco Kid and Young Frankenstein – battled non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 1999.

He went through chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant, and in 2002 doctors confirmed his cancer was in remission.

Although Gene appeared frail-looking, he and wife Karen seemed happy together.

Gene and Karen, 59, met in 1988 when Karen worked as a speech pathologist and Gene was researching his role as a deaf man for See No Evil, Hear No Evil with Richard Pryor.

He reconnected with her after third wife Gilda Radner’s death from ovarian cancer in 1989, and the two married in 1991.

“I know what love is now, and I’ve found it,” said Gene. “She’s sitting right next to me.”

via GENE WILDER: SECRET OF LIFE – Celebrity News | Gossip – National Enquirer.

ADULT STEM CELLS Revealed: The secret of how worms re-grow amputated body parts… and how humans could one day do the same

In STEM CELLS IN THE NEWS on April 27, 2010 at 8:50 am


Revealed: The secret of how worms re-grow amputated body parts… and how humans could one day do the same

By Daily Mail Reporter

Scientists have discovered the gene that allows a worm to regenerate its own body parts after they are amputated, it was announced today.

The research into how Planarian worms can re-grow body parts – including a whole head and brain – could one day make it possible to regenerate old or damaged human organs and tissues, the University of Nottingham said.

The research, led by Dr Aziz Aboobaker, a Research Councils UK Fellow in the university’s School of Biology, shows a gene called ‘Smed-prep’ is essential for correctly regenerating a head and brain in Planarian worms.

Research into how Planarian worms can re-grow body parts could one day make it possible to regenerate old or damaged human organs and tissues

Research into how Planarian worms can re-grow body parts could one day make it possible to regenerate old or damaged human organs and tissues

The worms have the unusual ability to regenerate body parts, including a head and brain, following amputation.

They contain adult stem cells that are constantly dividing and can become all of the missing cell types.

They also have the right set of genes working to make this happen as it should so that when they re-grow body parts they end up in the right place and have the correct size, shape and orientation, the research showed.

The study is published today in the open access journal PLoS Genetics.

Dr Aboobaker said: ‘These amazing worms offer us the opportunity to observe tissue regeneration in a very simple animal that can regenerate itself to a remarkable extent and does so as a matter of course.

‘We want to be able to understand how adult stem cells can work collectively in any animal to form and replace damaged or missing organs and tissues.

‘Any fundamental advances in understanding from other animals can become relevant to humans surprisingly quickly.

‘If we know what is happening when tissues are regenerated under normal circumstances, we can begin to formulate how to replace damaged and diseased organs, tissues and cells in an organised and safe way following an injury caused by trauma or disease.

‘This would be desirable for treating Alzheimer’s disease, for example.

‘With this knowledge we can also assess the consequences of what happens when stem cells go wrong during the normal processes of renewal – for example in the blood cell system where rogue stem cells can result in Leukaemia.’

The researchers said Smed-prep is necessary for the correct differentiation and location of cells that make up a Planarian worm’s head, as well as for defining where the head should be located.

They found although the presence of Smed-prep is vital so the head and brain are in the right place, the worm stem cells can still be persuaded to form brain cells as a result of the action of other unrelated genes…

via Revealed: The secret of how worms re-grow amputated body parts… and how humans could one day do the same | Mail Online.

Researchers find that single gene responsible for OCD-like behaviors in mice

In ALL ARTICLES on April 26, 2010 at 7:05 pm


April 26, 2010

Researchers at the Ansary Stem Cell Institute and the Department of Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College discovered that mice missing a single gene developed repetitive obsessive-compulsive-like behaviors. The genetically altered mice, which behaved much like people with a certain type of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), could help scientists design new therapies for this debilitating condition.

The researchers made this serendipitous discovery while looking at the role of a gene, called Slitrk5, which they had earlier linked to blood stem cells and vascular cells. In the April 25 online edition of Nature Medicine they report how, in follow-up studies, mice in which the gene was disabled (“knocked-out”) demonstrated obsessive self-grooming and extreme anxiety. Further study showed that the frontal lobe-to-striatum circuitry of the brains of these mice were altered in the same ways that are implicated in OCD in humans.

This discovery links Slitrk5 to development of OCD-like behaviors, and offers scientists a new mouse model of the disorder, say the study’s senior co-investigators, Dr. Shahin Rafii and Dr. Francis S.Y. Lee. Dr. Rafii is director of the Ansary Stem Cell Institute and professor in genetic medicine Weill Cornell Medical College and and an HHMI investigator. Dr. Lee is associate professor of psychiatry and pharmacology at the Medical College.

“Overall, our data suggest that Slitrk5 may have a central role in the development of the core symptoms of OCD — self-injurious, repetitive behavior and increased anxiety,” Dr. Rafii says. “Very few psychiatric disorders have been linked to a single gene, and it will be important to find out if patients with the disorder have an alteration of Slitrk5.”


via Researchers find that single gene responsible for OCD-like behaviors in mice.

New ‘Schizophrenia Gene’ Prompts Researchers To Test Potential Drug Target

In SCIENCE & STEM CELLS on October 29, 2009 at 2:28 am

New ‘Schizophrenia Gene’ Prompts Researchers To Test Potential Drug Target

ScienceDaily (Oct. 27, 2009) — Johns Hopkins scientists report having used a commercially available drug to successfully “rescue” animal brain cells that they had intentionally damaged by manipulating a newly discovered gene that links susceptibility genes for schizophrenia and autism.



The rescue, described as “surprisingly complete” by the researchers, was accomplished with rapamycin, a drug known to act on a protein called mTOR whose role involves the production of other proteins. The idea to test this drug’s effectiveness at rescuing impaired nerve cells occurred to the team as a result of having discovered a new gene that appears to act in concert with two previously identified schizophrenia susceptibility genes, one of which is involved in the activation of the protein mTOR. This piecing together of multiple genes adds support for the idea that susceptibility to schizophrenia and autism may have common genetic fingerprints, according to the researchers.



The newfound gene, dubbed KIAA1212, serves as a bridge linking two schizophrenia genes: DISC1 and AKT. Suspecting KIAA1212 as one of many potential binding partners interacting with DISC1, whose name is an acronym for “Disrupted-in-Schizophrenia,” the researchers genetically shut down the production of DISC1 proteins in newly born neurons in the hippocampus region of an adult mouse brain. The hippocampus contains a niche where native stem cells give rise to fully developed new neurons. The idea was to deliberately cause these cells to malfunction and then watch what happened.



via New ‘Schizophrenia Gene’ Prompts Researchers To Test Potential Drug Target.

Master gene that can kill cancer

In STEM CELLS IN THE NEWS on September 14, 2009 at 6:15 pm

Key master gene that can KILL cancer identified by British scientists

By Fiona Macrae

Last updated at 7:49 AM on 14th September 2009

Colon cancer cells

Colon cancer cells: A ‘masterswitch’ in the body’s battle against cancer has been identified by British scientists

A ‘masterswitch’ in the body’s battle against cancer has been identified by British scientists, raising hope of new treatments.

The key gene triggers the production of blood cells capable of fighting – and killing – tumour cells.

The cells form part of the body’s natural armoury against disease and we all have some.

But making more could bolster our defence, saving some of the 155,000 lives lost each year to cancer in the UK.

via Found, master gene that can kill cancer | Mail Online.

STEM CELLS & HIV (Part 3) ‘Major Advance’ in HIV Gene Therapy



‘Major Advance’ in HIV Gene Therapy

Study Shows HIV Gene Therapy Is Safe, Could Make Body Resist AIDS Virus

By Daniel J. DeNoon -WebMD Health News -Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Feb. 16, 2009 — A one-time gene therapy that puts an anti- HIV RNA weapon into blood cells is safe and, in higher doses and stronger form, could make the body resist the AIDS virus, a clinical trial suggests.

This “major advance in the field” is the largest clinical trial ever to test genetically altered cells in humans, say UCLA researcher Ronald T. Mitsuyasu, MD, and colleagues.

“This study indicates that cell-delivered gene transfer is safe and biologically active in individuals with HIV and can be developed as a conventional therapeutic product,” the researchers report in the Feb. 15 advance online issue of Nature Medicine.

The treatment calls for patients to get shots of a growth factor that stimulates growth of white blood cells. Then the cells are taken from their blood. Blood stem cells are separated out and put in cell culture dishes…

via ‘Major Advance’ in HIV Gene Therapy.

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