A Brace of Stem Cell Advances

Biotechnology and life science research is forging ahead despite the steadily worsening situation in bringing medical advances to market - stifling regulation that seems to do little but get worse year after year, and now an ongoing economic collapse that looks set to continue for some time. Here are a couple of examples from the field of regenerative medicine in the past few days:

Single Adult Stem Cell Can Self Renew, Repair Tissue Damage In Live Mammal

The transplanted adult stem cell and its differentiated descendants restored lost function to mice with hind limb muscle tissue damage. ... Unlike tumor cells, the transplanted stem cells achieved homeostasis, growing to a stable, constant level and ceasing replication. After demonstrating that the transplanted stem cells proliferated and fully restored the animal's lost function, Sacco and Blau recovered new stem cells from the transplant with full stem cell potency, meeting the final "gold standard" test for adult multipotent stem cells.

Single virus used to convert adult cells to embryonic stem cell-like cells

Researchers have greatly simplified the creation of so-called induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, cutting the number of viruses used in the reprogramming process from four to one. Scientists hope that these embryonic stem-cell-like cells could eventually be used to treat such ailments as Parkinson's disease and diabetes.

New Way To More Rapidly Generate Bone Tissue Developed

Using stem cell lines not typically combined, researchers [have] designed a new way to "grow" bone and other tissues.


The inability to foster angiogenesis - a physiological process involving the growth of new blood vessels from pre-existing vessels - has been a major roadblock in tissue regeneration. Previous approaches have included the use of angiogenic growth factors and the fabrication of artificial blood vessels. However, there are problems associated with these approaches. Among these problems: artificially fabricated blood vessels do not readily branch out and network with host blood vessels, and blood vessels induced by angiogenic growth factors tend to be immature and "leaky."

To overcome these obstacles, a team of Columbia researchers has co-transplanted hematopoietic and mesenchymal stem/progenitor cells to promote the regeneration of vascularized tissues. What they found was that the tissue regenerated in bone more rapidly than when either type of stem cell was used alone.

It is encouraging to have seen a steady stream of improvements to new techniques this past year. Researchers are moving rapidly to build a sound basis for the near-future construction of replacement organs and directed regrowth of damaged tissue inside the body.

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