Beyond mythology: NIH plans to lift ban on chimera research

The National Institutes of Health recently announced that it expects to lift a ban on research involving animal embryos that have been injected with human stem cells.  Embryonic stem cells are already lightning rods for controversy, but part-human “chimeras” are saddled with their own set of ethical dilemmas.  Some worry, for example, that chimeras could develop human-like brains that might afford the animal a rudimentary … Continue reading Beyond mythology: NIH plans to lift ban on chimera research

Rabbit virus sinks teeth into cancer, aids bone marrow transplants

A common treatment for blood cancers, such as leukemia, is to replace damaged, cancerous bone marrow with donated healthy marrow.  Marrow is the flexible tissue in your bones that contains stem cells that give rise to all the blood and immune cells in the body.  When marrow comes from a donor, the donor’s and the recipient’s blood and tissue types must directly match.  If not, … Continue reading Rabbit virus sinks teeth into cancer, aids bone marrow transplants

Discovery of Anti-aging in Mammary Gland

A study shows that when a certain protein called Timp is lacking, there is an increase in the number of stem cells of the mammary gland (an organ in the breast), which prevents it from aging, thus reducing one of the risk factors of breast cancer. The study shows great insights into stem cell regulation. However, it has lead to overblown ‘fountain of youth’ claims. … Continue reading Discovery of Anti-aging in Mammary Gland

Can stem cells be engineered to battle brain cancer?

Treating glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) – the most common and aggressive form of brain cancer – is notoriously difficult. In the early 2000s, researchers began investigating a new form of therapy to attack GBM tumors: implanting stem cells engineered to express toxins that specifically kill tumor cells. The toxin – a protein called TRAIL – kills tumor cells (but not normal cells!)  by signaling through a … Continue reading Can stem cells be engineered to battle brain cancer?

A Stem Cell Milestone

An important milestone in the field of regenerative biology has been reached: earlier this month a Japanese patient became the first person to receive a tissue transplant derived from her own induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells). The team of doctors and researchers responsible for the breakthrough took some of the patient’s own skin cells and, through a process termed reprogramming, turned them into pluripotent stem … Continue reading A Stem Cell Milestone