by Lisa Willemse
In a traditional view of medical research, advances tend to be measured against the overarching goal of cure. Noble as this might be, research is rarely such a black and white affair -- if we have learned anything, it’s that there are innumerable shades of grey.
Even the goal itself can be questioned, especially when achieving it could be 50 years into the future.
Continue reading "Whose life is it anyway? Building patient needs and goals into stem cell clinical trials" »
When we report on breakthroughs in stem cell research, we typically link to well-funded studies published in peer-reviewed journals by world-renowned scientists. This time, it’s a little different.
Angela Zhang, a high school senior from Cupertino, California, was awarded a $100,000 scholarship for her submission to the 2011 Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology: A “gold and iron oxide-based nanoparticle” designed to seek out and destroy tumour-causing cancer stem cells.
Continue reading "17-year-old high school student makes a cancer stem cell breakthrough" »
by Angela C.H. McDonald
Last spring, I wrote about the remarkable generation of self-organizing retinal tissue created from mouse embryonic stem cells. The study successfully created all major retinal components including photoreceptors, albeit at a low abundance. However, while multi-layered optic tissue did form, the alignment and organization of mature retinal cell types differed from that of the mouse eye in vivo.
The missing ingredient in this experiment was a physical, instructive cue to direct retinal cells into the complex structural pattern of the eye.
A recent paper published in Biomaterials by another group of researchers described a biomaterials-based approach for creating organized photoreceptor cells from human embryonic stem cells.
Human embryonic stem cells were differentiated into retinal cells and seeded onto a specially designed scaffold positioned on top of a retinal pigment epithelial cell layer. This resulted in the organization of cells into a complex retinal architecture.
Continue reading "The apple of a bioengineer’s eye: mature photoreceptors" »