A Listing of CIRM-Sponsored Published Research

My attention was directed today to the list of research publications from scientists awarded grants by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Regardless of your views on the heavy-handed entry of government into research funding, it provides a interesting snapshot of the state of stem cell research; scientists making progress in reverse engineering the ways the body builds and repairs itself. Take a look:

Researchers at UC, Los Angeles have created cells that go on to form normal T cells out of human embryonic stem cells.


Researchers at UC, Irvine identified the true location of adult stem cells in the brain.


Researchers at UC, Berkeley identified a signaling molecule that interferes with the ability of older skeletal muscle to regenerate. After injury, adult skeletal muscle regenerates by activating muscle stem cells that fuse with the existing muscle cells to repair the damage. This ability to regenerate diminishes with age, not because of a decline in the number of resident stem cells, but because stem cells in the older muscle don’t respond when damage occurs. It turns out that older muscles release molecules that actively inhibit the resident stem cells. In this study, the team identified one of those molecules and showed that interfering with that molecule’s function restores the ability of muscle in older mice to regenerate after injury.


Researchers at UC, Los Angeles discovered a series of mutations that can convert normal blood stem cells into cancer stem cells. It is believed that many types of cancer result from cancer stem cells created by such mutations. ... The team hopes that by studying these pathways they will find ways to block them with small molecule drugs and cure the often fatal disease.

Our stem cells are complex machinery; in between the scientific successes that have immediate application, much of present research is the biochemical equivalent of tracing wires and dismantling clockwork to understand how it works. The pace of basic research is fast, however, and the field is comparatively well funded. Ten years from now, I would not be at all surprised to see the research community to possess a fairly complete picture of the biochemistry of stem cells: how they work, and what signals and genes control each step of the processes that take place inside our bodies. From there on in, it's all application of that knowledge.

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