Tag Archives | Stem Cells

Scientists Grow Pea-Sized Human Brains In Lab

pea-sized human brain

How long do we have until the creation of the “pea people”? The BBC reports:

Miniature “human brains” have been grown in a lab by scientists at Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

The pea-sized structures reached the same level of development as in a nine-week-old foetus, but are incapable of thought. The study has already been used to gain insight into rare diseases.

The scientists used either embryonic stem cells or adult skin cells to produce the part of an embryo that develops into the brain and spinal cord – the neuroectoderm. The cells were able to grow and organise themselves into separate regions of the brain, such as the cerebral cortex, the retina, and, rarely, an early hippocampus.

The “mini-brains” have survived for nearly a year, but did not grow any larger. There is no blood supply, just brain tissue, so nutrients and oxygen cannot penetrate into the middle of the brain-like structure.

Read the rest

Continue Reading

Human Cells Added To Their Brains Make Mice Smarter

human cells

Once someone lets them loose into a sewer and they breed freely, we’re in trouble. Scientific American writes:

In spring a band of brainy rodents made headlines for zipping through mazes with savvy navigation and mastering memory tricks. Scientists credited the impressive intellectual feats to human cells transplanted into their brains shortly after birth.

The mice benefited from human stem cells called glial progenitors, immature cells poised to become astrocytes and other glia cells, the supposed support cells of the brain.

Studies since then have revealed how extensively astrocytes interact with neurons, even coordinating their activity in some cases.

Our astrocytes are enormous compared with the astrocytes of other animals—20 times larger than rodent astrocytes—and they make contact with millions of neurons apiece. Neurons, on the other hand, are nearly identical in all mammals, from rodents to great apes like us. Such clues suggest astrocytes could be evolutionary contributors to our outsized intellect.

Read the rest

Continue Reading

Eating A Stem Cell Burger

Somehow I can’t see carnivores wanting to eat stem cell burgers, and I can’t see vegetarians deciding they are acceptable either! Nonetheless Melissa Hogenboom investigates the taste of these lab grown meat concoctions for BBC News:

The first lab-grown burger has now been cooked in a frying pan and tasted by two food writers. But did it live up to all its hype?

The event certainly did. It had the surreal vibe of a live TV food show rather than a science press conference, with presenter Nina Hossain fielding questions.

Chef Richard McGeown was tasked with frying the patty. He commented on its “fantastic colour” and its “nice inviting aroma”, but from where the media team sat, there was not a whiff of burger reaching our nostrils.

“It’s literally like cooking any other burger I’ve experienced before, a nice and pleasant aroma but very subtle at this stage,” added McGeown.

Read the rest

Continue Reading

Japanese Scientists Receive Approval To Create Human-Animal Embryos

human-animal embryos

The Japan Times reports on mixing and matching the components of humans and non-human animals:

Proposed experiments with animal-human embryos cleared the first regulatory hurdle Tuesday as Japanese scientists seek permission for tests that could see human organs produced inside the growing body of an animal.

Researchers want to introduce a human stem cell into an animal embryo, to create a so-called chimeric embryo, which they can implant into an animal’s womb.

The hope is that this stem cell will grow into a fully-functioning human organ — a kidney or a liver, for example — as the animal matures. This would mean when the creature is fully grown, the organ could be harvested from the animal and used for transplanting into a person in need.

Unlike in the United States, there is little public opposition to research of this kind, with domestic media coverage overwhelmingly positive, reflecting relatively high levels of scientific literacy in the country.

Read the rest

Continue Reading

Bones Grow In Woman’s Eye Following Cosmetic Anti-Wrinkle Stem Cell Procedure

Leap into stem cell revolution without caution, and strange things can happen. Via Popular Science:

Stem cell surgery, in which stem cells from a patient’s body are transplanted into some other part of the body, is gaining in popularity. One patient in Los Angeles found out the hard way that the surgery is largely untested and unregulated.

Stem cells are sometimes used for anti-aging purposes, the idea being that they’ll turn into brand-new tissue and help heal aging cells nearby. But her doctors also used a dermal filler largely made of calcium hydroxylapatite, which happens to trigger stem cells to turn into…well, bone, rather than new tissue.

The woman is recovering nicely, but it’s a really fascinating story of how powerful and potent stem cells are–and how we need to be careful with how we use them in these early stages of stem cell use.

Read the rest

Continue Reading

Mental Illness ‘In A Dish’

Cell culture in a petri dish. Photo: Jacopo Werther (CC)

Cell culture in a petri dish. Photo:

Researchers are using skin cells from patients with mental illnesses, such s schizophrenia, to grow new tissue as neurons. The hope is to find a genetic based influence for mental disorders and recognize the early stages of such diseases. From Ewen Callaway via Nature News:

Before committing suicide at the age of 22, an anonymous man with schizophrenia donated a biopsy of his skin cells to research. Reborn as neurons, these cells may help neuroscientists to unpick the disease he struggled with from early childhood.

Experiments on these cells, as well as those of several other patients, are reported today in Nature1. They represent the first of what are sure to be many mental illnesses ‘in a dish’, made by reprogramming patients’ skin cells to an embryonic-like state from which they can form any tissue type.

Recreating neuropsychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder using such cells represents a daunting challenge: scientists do not know the underlying biological basis of mental illnesses; symptoms vary between patients; and although psychiatric illnesses are strongly influenced by genes, it has proved devilishly hard to identify many that explain more than a fraction of a person’s risk.

Read the rest

Continue Reading

HIV Cured By Stem Cell Transplant

sternThe first person ever successfully cured of HIV, thanks to the miracle of stem cells? Aidsmap reports:

Doctors who carried out a stem cell transplant on an HIV-infected man with leukaemia in 2007 say they now believe the man to have been cured of HIV infection as a result of the treatment, which introduced stem cells which happened to be resistant to HIV infection.

The man received bone marrow from a donor who had natural resistance to HIV infection; this was due to a genetic profile which led to the CCR5 co-receptor being absent from his cells. The most common variety of HIV uses CCR5 as its ‘docking station’, attaching to it in order to enter and infect CD4 cells, and people with this mutation are almost completely protected against infection.

The “Berlin patient,” Timothy Ray Brown, a US citizen who lives in Berlin, was interviewed this week by German news magazine Stern.

Read the rest

Continue Reading

George W. Bush Shares His Secrets – With Matt Drudge!

Books George W BushOf course “W” fan Matt Drudge is first to crow over how wonderful our immediate past president was, with some exclusive revelations from Bush’s new book on his consistently conservative Drudge Report:

“It was a simple question, ‘Can you remember the last day you didn’t have a drink?’”

So begins President George W. Bush in the opening chapter ["Quitting"] from the most anticipated book of the season, the DRUDGE REPORT can reveal. With Decision Points set for release November 9, Bush pulls back the curtain with a strikingly personal work that takes very few shots at his critics.

The former president even stays clear of Obama!

From 911′s “Day of Fire” to “Katrina” to “Financial Crisis”, Bush explains how he returned to his faith, time and time again.

And the faith of others.

The president details how he bonded with Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia — and a magical bird!

Read the rest

Continue Reading

New ‘Designer’ Human Organs – Stem Cells + Inkjet Printing?

Organovo will distribute its $200,000 inkjet-like organ printers to medical research centers starting this year. Their “ink” comes from stem cells (from adult bone marrow) guided by growth factors into specific cell types, then packed into droplets of “ink” containing up to 30,000 cells to be printed onto sheets of organic biopaper where they self-assemble into functional tissue.

Though at first they’ll only print “very basic tissues like blood vessels”, the CSO of Organovo sees the business potential in using their bio-printers to create artificial human organs for implanting. (“You give us your cells: we grow them, we print them…”) And he also raises the possibility of “designer organs”, artificially grown into customized sizes and shapes…

Continue Reading

British Boy Becomes First in the World to Have Stem Cell Transplant

Stem Cell Operation

If President Bush’s outdated theology hadn’t prevented government research with embryonic stem cells, I wonder how much further along we’d be. Pretty incredible story. Rebecca Smith writes in the Telegraph:

A ten-year-old British boy has become the first child in the world to undergo a revolutionary windpipe transplant, it has been announced.

The landmark operation involved injecting the scaffold of a windpipe, taken from a dead donor, with stem cells from the boy before implanting it in his throat.

The stem cells were removed from the boy’s bone marrow and were ready for use just four hours later.

The cells trigger regrowth to create a normal windpipe without any of the risks of normal transplantation such as the organ being rejected by the body.

The operation took place at Great Ormond Street Hospital, in London, on Monday and the boy is breathing by himself and able to speak normally.

Read More in the TelegraphRead the rest

Continue Reading