by Chris Kamel
We've talked often about induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) on this blog -- the transformation of adult terminally differentiated cells into stem cells that can differentiate into various lineages -- mostly in the context of discoveries in mice and potential applications in regenerative therapy for humans. One thing mentioned less often is the use of stem cell technologies for our pets and animal companions. Anew paper published by Dr. Andras Nagy's group at Mount Sinai Hospital and the University of Toronto has established equine iPS cell lines raising the possibility of stem cell therapies for horses.
Continue reading "Horse-derived iPS cells" »
by Michelle Ly
As we get further into 2011, embryonic stem (ES) cells continue to be a hot topic. The ability of ES cells to differentiate into virtually any other type of cell makes them a prime avenue for research in biomedical applications. They have also been a source of great continuing controversy not only in North America, but across Europe as well. The recent stem cell research injunction in the United States this past fall and the subsequent ongoing debate serves as a reminder that despite the best intentions of the current administration, ES cell research is still dragging its heels in many ways.
While legal barriers remain sluggish to change, signs from industry and the research community seem to indicate a growing push towards acceptance and expansion of ES cell research.
Continue reading "Progress in ES research, despite the hurdles" »
by Michelle Ly
In previous posts, I discussed the use of cell therapy, specifically the application of allogenic or autologous hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), as a way to repopulate blood cell lineages to normal levels post-treatment in patients suffering from certain types of blood-related cancers. These therapies would not be successful if not for the ability of stem cells to home and migrate. All cell therapies rely on the cells to somehow find their way through the body, migrate to the appropriate stem cell niche, and from there, differentiate and repopulate the target system. This process was discussed by Tsvee Lapidot at the recent Annual Meeting for the American Society of Hematology.
During his seminar, Dr. Lapidot discussed the dynamic nature of stem cell niches, the environment in which stem cells are found and regulated. The hematopoietic stem cell niche is found in the bone marrow and formed by a variety of cell types, including stromal cells. Bone marrow stromal cells can maintain HSCs in a quiescent inactive state indefinitely. But sometimes the body needs to replenish its cells, requiring that stem cells be allowed to differentiate and migrate. This suggests that stem cell niches are changeable and one mechanism for this change is through the regulation of a protein called “stromal cell-derived factor-1” (SDF-1).
Continue reading "It’s a matter of attraction: homing and mobility in the blood system" »
by David Kent
One of the most striking observations I have made since I began my stem cell training involves the hugely positive effects of substantial resources on the field of stem cell biology. Building on the momentum of two stunning advances in developmental biology in the late 1990s (cloning Dolly the sheep and creating of human embryonic stem cell lines), government, industry, media and the public have consistently provided support for the hope and promise of stem cell biology. Because such vast quantities of money were invested, the field progressed more rapidly and with greater diversity than what could have been accomplished by simply funding stem cell biologists. Indeed, this investment has launched a decade of intensive training and cross-fertilization that has been at the leading edge of inter-disciplinary research.
Major organizations were formed (e.g.: the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, the Cambridge Centre for Stem Cell Research, the Australian Stem Cell Centre), large collaborative networks were born (e.g.: the Canadian and UK Stem Cell Networks), and huge numbers of university degree programs were created. Most importantly, however, is what these efforts created in their wake -– they brought people and ideas together.
Continue reading "If you build it, they will come: money + resources = interdisciplinary teams" »