Links for Keyword: Stem Cells

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by Colin Barras It's like pulling a rabbit out of a hat. Researchers have reached inside the brain of a rat and pulled out neural stem cells – without harming the animal. Since the technique uses nanoparticles already approved for use in humans, it is hoped that it could be used to extract neural stem cells (NSCs) from people to treat conditions like Parkinson's, Huntington's and multiple sclerosis. Extracting NSCs from the person who needs them would avoid immune rejection – but they are difficult to remove safely. So Edman Tsang at the University of Oxford and his colleagues have developed a technique to safely fish out NSCs that originate in cavities in the brain called ventricles. Tsang's team coated magnetic nanoparticles with antibodies that bond tightly to a protein found on the surface of NSCs. They then injected the nanoparticles into the lateral ventricles of rats' brains. Six hours later, after the nanoparticles had bonded to the NSCs, the researchers used a magnetic field around the rats' heads to pull the stem cells together. They could then be sucked out of the brain with a syringe. After freeing the stem cells from the nanoparticles, the team found they could grow them in a dish, suggesting they were undamaged by the process. The rats, meanwhile, were back on their feet within hours of the surgery, showing no ill effects. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 11: Motor Control and Plasticity; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 5: The Sensorimotor System; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 18737 - Posted: 10.03.2013

by Andy Coghlan Normal adult cells have been reprogrammed to become stem cells inside live mice for the first time. As stem cells can be coaxed into developing into almost any kind of cell, being able to prompt this behaviour in the body could one day be used to repair ailing organs including the heart, liver, spinal cord and pancreas. "By doing it in situ, the cells are already there in the tissue, in the right position," says Manuel Serrano at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre in Madrid, and co-leader of the new work. The technique overcomes the difficulties inherent in making cells outside the body, grafting them into people, and then of potential rejection. It opens up new clinical opportunities, say the researchers. Since 2006, when Nobel-prizewinning researcher Shinya Yamanaka first made adult cells return to a stem-cell-like state of being pluripotent – able to turn into almost any cell type – all such induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells have been made in vitro. This is done by taking a sample of adult cells, such as skin cells, and treating them with four proteins that rewind the cells back to an embryonic-like state. Serrano genetically altered mice to give them extra copies of the four genes that produce these proteins: Oct, Sox2, Klf4 and c-Myc. The genes were programmed to kick into action when exposed to doxycycline, an antibiotic. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 18639 - Posted: 09.12.2013

Meredith Wadman The woman was four months pregnant, but she didn't want another child. In 1962, at a hospital in Sweden, she had a legal abortion. The fetus — female, 20 centimetres long and wrapped in a sterile green cloth — was delivered to the Karolinska Institute in northwest Stockholm. There, the lungs were dissected, packed on ice and dispatched to the airport, where they were loaded onto a transatlantic flight. A few days later, Leonard Hayflick, an ambitious young microbiologist at the Wistar Institute for Anatomy and Biology in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, unpacked that box. Working with a pair of surgical scalpels, Hayflick minced the lungs — each about the size of an adult fingertip — then placed them in a flask with a mix of enzymes that fragmented them into individual cells. These he transferred into several flat-sided glass bottles, to which he added a nutrient broth. He laid the bottles on their sides in a 37 °C incubation room. The cells began to divide. So began WI-38, a strain of cells that has arguably helped to save more lives than any other created by researchers. Many of the experimental cell lines available at that time, such as the famous HeLa line, had been grown from cancers or were otherwise genetically abnormal. WI-38 cells became the first 'normal' human cells available in virtually unlimited quantities to scientists and to industry and, as a result, have become the most extensively described and studied normal human cells available to this day. © 2013 Nature Publishing Group

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 18358 - Posted: 07.09.2013

By David Brown, A team of researchers said Wednesday that it had produced embryonic stem cells — a possible source of disease-fighting spare parts — from a cloned human embryo. Scientists at the Oregon Health and Science University accomplished in humans what has been done over the past 15 years in sheep, mice, cattle and several other species. The achievement is likely to, at least temporarily, reawaken worries about “reproductive cloning” — the production of one-parent duplicate humans. But few experts think that production of stem cells through cloning is likely to be medically useful soon, or possibly ever. “An outstanding issue of whether it would work in humans has been resolved,” said Rudolf Jaenisch, a biologist at MIT’s Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, Mass., who added that he thinks the feat “has no clinical relevance.” “I think part of the significance is technical and part of the significance is historical,” said John Gearhart, head of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. “Many labs attempted it, and no one had ever been able to achieve it.” A far less controversial way to get stem cells is now available. It involves reprogramming mature cells (often ones taken from the skin) so that they return to what amounts to a second childhood from which they can grow into a new and different adulthood. Learning how to make and manipulate those “induced pluripotent stem” (IPS) cells is one of biology’s hottest fields. © 1996-2013 The Washington Post

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 11: Motor Control and Plasticity
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 5: The Sensorimotor System
Link ID: 18162 - Posted: 05.16.2013

By Meghan Rosen Mouse brain cells scamper close to eternal life: They can actually outlive their bodies. Mouse neurons transplanted into rat brains lived as long as the rats did, surviving twice as long as the mouse’s average life span, researchers report online February 25 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The findings suggest that long lives might not mean deteriorating brains. “This could absolutely be true in other mammals — humans too,” says study author Lorenzo Magrassi, a neurosurgeon at the University of Pavia in Italy. The findings are “very promising,” says Carmela Abraham, a neuroscientist at Boston University. “The question is: Can neurons live longer if we prolong our life span?” Magrassi’s experiment, she says, suggests the answer is yes. One theory about aging, Magrassi says, is that every species has a genetically determined life span and that all the cells in the body wear out and die at roughly the same time. For the neurons his team studied, he says, “We have shown that this simple idea is certainly not true.” Magrassi’s team surgically transplanted neurons from embryonic mice with an average life span of 18 months into rats. To do so, the researchers slipped a glass microneedle through the abdomens of anesthetized pregnant mice. Then, using a dissecting microscope and a tool to illuminate the corn-kernel-sized mouse embryos, the researchers scraped out tiny bits of brain tissue and injected the neurons into fetal rat brains. After the rat pups were born, Magrassi and colleagues waited as long as three years, until the animals were near death, to euthanize the rats and dissect their brains. © Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2013

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 17846 - Posted: 02.26.2013

Monya Baker Some of the waste that humans flush away every day could become a powerful source of brain cells to study disease, and may even one day be used in therapies for neurodegenerative diseases. Scientists have found a relatively straightforward way to persuade the cells discarded in human urine to turn into valuable neurons. The technique, described online in a study in Nature Methods this week1, does not involve embryonic stem cells. These come with serious drawbacks when transplanted, such as the risk of developing tumours. Instead, the method uses ordinary cells present in urine, and transforms them into neural progenitor cells — the precursors of brain cells. These precursor cells could help researchers to produce cells tailored to individuals more quickly and from more patients than current methods. Researchers routinely reprogram cultured skin and blood cells2 into induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, which can go on to form any cell in the body. But urine is a much more accessible source. Stem-cell biologist Duanqing Pei and his colleagues at China's Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health, part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, had previously shown that kidney epithelial cells in urine could be reprogrammed into iPS cells. However, in that study the team used retroviruses to insert pluripotency genes into cells — a common technique in cell reprogramming. This alters the genetic make-up of cells and can make them less predictable, so in this study, Pei and his colleagues introduced the genes using vectors which did not integrate in the cellular genome. © 2012 Nature Publishing Group,

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 17588 - Posted: 12.10.2012

by Emily Underwood Four young boys with a rare, fatal brain condition have made it through a dangerous ordeal. Scientists have safely transplanted human neural stem cells into their brains. Twelve months after the surgeries, the boys have more myelin—a fatty insulating protein that coats nerve fibers and speeds up electric signals between neurons—and show improved brain function, a new study in Science Translational Medicine reports. The preliminary trial paves the way for future research into potential stem cell treatments for the disorder, which overlaps with more common diseases such as Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis. "This is very exciting," says Douglas Fields, a neuroscientist at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, who was not involved in the work. "From these early studies one sees the promise of cell transplant therapy in overcoming disease and relieving suffering." Without myelin, electrical impulses traveling along nerve fibers in the brain can't travel from neuron to neuron says Nalin Gupta, lead author of the study and a neurosurgeon at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Signals in the brain become scattered and disorganized, he says, comparing them to a pile of lumber. "You wouldn't expect lumber to assemble itself into a house," he notes, yet neurons in a newborn baby's brain perform a similar feat with the help of myelin-producing cells called oligodendrocytes. Most infants are born with very little myelin and develop it over time. In children with early-onset Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease, he says, a genetic mutation prevents oligodendrocytes from producing myelin, causing electrical signals to die out before they reach their destinations. This results in serious developmental setbacks, such as the inability to talk, walk, or breathe independently, and ultimately causes premature death. © 2010 American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 17356 - Posted: 10.11.2012

By Tina Hesman Saey The 2012 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine was awarded for the discovery that adult cells can be reprogrammed, as scientists did to these neurons, created from skin cells reprogrammed into a type of primordial stem cell and then coaxed into brain cells that control movement.G. Croft and M. Weygandt/The Cell: An Image Library Two scientists who showed that a cell's fate is reversible have won the 2012 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine. The Nobel committee announced October 8 that John Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka are being honored for showing that cells once thought to be locked into a specific identity could remember and revert to the supremely flexible state they have in an early embryo. Gurdon’s 1962 work forever changed the view that adult cells are stuck in their fate. In a series of experiments, he transplanted the nucleus — the cellular compartment that contains DNA — from an intestinal cell of an adult frog into a frog egg cell from which the nucleus had been removed. The cell developed into a normal tadpole, demonstrating that DNA contains all the information necessary to make an embryo. More than four decades later, Yamanaka, of Kyoto University in Japan, changed the debate over stem cells when he created induced pluripotent stem cells, which are capable of becoming nearly any cell in the body. He was trying to understand the factors that make stem cells isolated from embryos so malleable; many genes seemed to be involved. Yamanaka used viruses to insert combinations of candidate genes into skin cells, and found that only four genes are required to turn a mouse skin cell into a stem cell. The technique has since been used to convert adult human cells into embryonic-like cells and even to convert skin cells directly into heart or brain cells. © Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2012

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 11: Motor Control and Plasticity
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 5: The Sensorimotor System
Link ID: 17346 - Posted: 10.09.2012

Two pioneers of stem cell research have shared the Nobel prize for medicine or physiology. John Gurdon from the UK and Shinya Yamanaka from Japan were awarded to prize for transforming specialised cells into stem cells.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 11: Motor Control and Plasticity
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 5: The Sensorimotor System
Link ID: 17342 - Posted: 10.08.2012

by Dennis Normile YOKOHAMA, JAPAN—For more than a decade, stem cell therapies have been touted as offering hope for those suffering from genetic and degenerative diseases. The promise took another step toward reality last week with announcements here at the annual meeting of the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) that two groups are moving forward with human clinical research, one focusing on a rare genetic neurological disease and the other for the loss of vision in the elderly. StemCells Inc. of Newark, California, reported encouraging results of an initial human trial using human neural stem cells to treat Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease (PMD). PMD is a progressive and fatal disorder in which a genetic mutation inhibits the normal growth of myelin, a protective material that envelopes nerve fibers in the brain. Without myelin, nerve signals are lost, and the patient, usually an infant, suffers degenerating motor coordination and other neurological symptoms. In her presentation, Ann Tsukamoto, StemCells' vice president for research, said the company chose to test its neural stem cell approach on PMD because there is currently no treatment for the condition and a diagnosis can be confirmed by genetic testing and magnetic resonance imaging. "This creates an opportunity for early intervention when it can best help." The company has created banks of highly purified neural stem cells that are isolated from adult neural tissue. Injected into rodents, the cells don't form tumors; rather, they migrate through the animals' brains, where they differentiate into various types of neural cells including the cells that create the myelin that protects nerve fibers. When neural stem stems were injected into in mice, they showed "robust engraftment and migration, the formation of new myelin," Tsukamoto said. © 2010 American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals
Link ID: 16932 - Posted: 06.19.2012

David Cyranoski A stem-cell biologist has had an eye-opening success in his latest effort to mimic mammalian organ development in vitro. Yoshiki Sasai of the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology (CBD) in Kobe, Japan, has grown the precursor of a human eye in the lab. The structure, called an optic cup, is 550 micrometres in diameter and contains multiple layers of retinal cells including photoreceptors. The achievement has raised hopes that doctors may one day be able to repair damaged eyes in the clinic. But for researchers at the annual meeting of the International Society for Stem Cell Research in Yokohama, Japan, where Sasai presented the findings this week, the most exciting thing is that the optic cup developed its structure without guidance from Sasai and his team. “The morphology is the truly extraordinary thing,” says Austin Smith, director of the Centre for Stem Cell Research at the University of Cambridge, UK. Until recently, stem-cell biologists had been able to grow embryonic stem-cells only into two-dimensional sheets. But over the past four years, Sasai has used mouse embryonic stem cells to grow well-organized, three-dimensional cerebral-cortex1, pituitary-gland2 and optic-cup3 tissue. His latest result marks the first time that anyone has managed a similar feat using human cells. The various parts of the human optic cup grew in mostly the same order as those in the mouse optic cup. This reconfirms a biological lesson: the cues for this complex formation come from inside the cell, rather than relying on external triggers. © 2012 Nature Publishing Group,

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 10: Vision: From Eye to Brain
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 7: Vision: From Eye to Brain
Link ID: 16921 - Posted: 06.16.2012

By James Gallagher Health and science reporter, BBC News Skin cells have been converted directly into cells which develop into the main components of the brain, by researchers studying mice in California. The experiment, reported in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, skipped the middle "stem cell" stage in the process. The researchers said they were "thrilled" at the potential medical uses. Far more tests are needed before the technique could be used on human skin. Stem cells, which can become any other specialist type of cell from brain to bone, are thought to have huge promise in a range of treatments. Many trials are taking place, such as in stroke patients or specific forms of blindness. One of the big questions for the field is where to get the cells from. There are ethical concerns around embryonic stem cells and patients would need to take immunosuppressant drugs as any stem cell tissue would not match their own. An alternative method has been to take skin cells and reprogram them into "induced" stem cells. These could be made from a patient's own cells and then turned into the cell type required, however, the process results in cancer-causing genes being activated. The research group, at the Stanford University School of Medicine in California, is looking at another option - converting a person's own skin cells into specialist cells, without creating "induced" stem cells. It has already transformed skin cells directly into neurons. BBC © 2012

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 16323 - Posted: 01.31.2012

Charlotte Schubert Human neurons, derived from embryonic stem cells, can modulate the behavior of a network of host neurons, according to a study examining the cells in culture and transplanting them into a mouse brain. The findings, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, lay the foundations for potential future treatments of Parkinson's disease, stroke and other conditions. Previous studies have shown that transplanted human neurons derived from stem cells look and act like functional nerve cells. For instance, such cells form connections with host neurons in the mouse brain, and receive signals from them. But it has been a challenge to show that the transplanted cells can successfully signal to and regulate the behaviour of host neurons. To address this question, Jason Weick and his colleagues at the University of Wisconsin in Madison harnessed a technique known as optogenetic targeting. This involves genetically engineering neurons to produce an ion channel (a protein-lined pore that spans the cell membrane) that opens in response to light, allowing positive ions such as sodium and calcium to flow through it and activate the neuron. In this way the researchers can selectively activate human neurons in a mixture of human and mouse cells. © 2011 Nature Publishing Group,

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 16064 - Posted: 11.22.2011

by Valerie Ross Some might call skin the unsung hero of organs. It provides waterproofing, mediates sensation, guards against germs, and—as if that’s not enough—now researchers believe it may serve as a valuable repository of brain cells. Last spring, scientists at the Salk Institute in California announced the creation of a technique for transforming simple skin cells scraped from patients with schizophrenia into functional neurons, a major step toward more personalized, noninvasive approaches to drug testing. “Psychiatrists give patients first line, second line, third line drugs, hoping that one will work,” says Salk neuroscientist Fred Gage, who led the research. Pre-screening drugs on patient-derived cells could increase the odds of picking the right drug from the beginning. After collecting skin cells from people with and without schizophrenia, Gage and team genetically reprogrammed the cells to become pluripotent stem cells, with the youthful ability to give rise to any of the more than 200 cell types in the body. From there, the blank-slate cells were bathed in a biochemical solution designed to mimic the developmental conditions of a brain cell. A month later, the cells from the healthy volunteers looked nearly identical to conventional brain cells, while the cells from the schizophrenic patients were smaller and formed fewer connections, hinting at the physical root of the disease. In further tests, the diseased neurons responded in petri dishes to five schizophrenia drugs. One common medication, loxapine, boosted the number of connections among the cells, providing a window into how the medication might work in the brain. © 2011, Kalmbach Publishing Co.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 15955 - Posted: 10.27.2011

Ewen Callaway By transforming cells from human skin into working nerve cells, researchers may have come up with a model for nervous-system diseases and perhaps even regenerative therapies based on cell transplants. The achievement, reported online today in Nature1, is the latest in a fast-moving field called transdifferentiation, in which cells are forced to adopt new identities. In the past year, researchers have converted connective tissue cells found in skin into heart cells2, blood cells3 and liver cells4. Transdifferentiation is an alternative to the cellular reprogramming that involves converting a mature cell into a pluripotent stem cell — one capable of becoming many types of cell — then coaxing the pluripotent cell into becoming a particular type of cell, such as neurons. Marius Wernig, a stem-cell researcher at Stanford University in California, and the leader of the study, says that skipping the pluripotency step could avoid some of the problems of making tissues from these induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). The pluripotency technique can also take months to complete. Wernig's team sparked the imaginations of cellular reprogrammers last year, when it transformed cells taken from the tip of a mouse's tail into working nerve cells5. That feat of cellular alchemy took just three foreign genes – delivered into tail cells with a virus – and less than two weeks. "We thought that as it worked so great for the mouse, it should be no problem to work it out in humans," Wernig says. "That turned out to be wrong." © 2011 Nature Publishing Group,

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 8: General Principles of Sensory Processing, Touch, and Pain
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 5: The Sensorimotor System
Link ID: 15377 - Posted: 05.28.2011

By Rob Stein, CHATOM, Ala. — When Timothy J. Atchison regained consciousness, he was drenched in blood and pinned in his car on the side of a dark rural road. “I was just pouring blood,” said Atchison, 21, who said he recoiled in pain when he tried to drag himself through a window of the wrecked Pontiac, a high-school graduation gift. “I didn’t know if I was going to bleed to death or not.” Then, Atchison said, he realized that his legs felt strangely huge — and completely numb. He was paralyzed from the chest down. “I was just praying — asking for forgiveness and thanking God for keeping me alive,” said Atchison, who was trapped for at least an hour before rescuers freed him. “I said, ‘From here on out, I’m going to live for you and nothing else.’ I never got down after that. I figure that’s what must have kept me up — God keeping me up.” That sense of destiny propelled Atchison when he faced another shock just seven days later: Doctors asked him to volunteer to be the first person to have an experimental drug made from human embryonic stem cells injected into his body. “We were just stunned,” said Atchison, who was with his mother and grandfather when researchers approached him. “We were like, ‘Whoa, really?’ We were all just kind of in awe.” Atchison, known to friends and family as T.J., described the events during an interview Tuesday with The Washington Post — his first detailed account since disclosing his carefully guarded identity to The Post. Atchison’s story reveals provocative insights into one of the most closely watched medical experiments, including what some might see as irony: that a treatment condemned on moral and religious grounds is viewed by the first person to pioneer the therapy, and by his family, as part of God’s plan.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 11: Motor Control and Plasticity
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 5: The Sensorimotor System
Link ID: 15228 - Posted: 04.16.2011

by Andy Coghlan STEM cells from the human brain that were transplanted into the brains of newborn rats have matured and are able to function just like native rat cells. The breakthrough demonstrates the potential for people with brain damage, caused by epilepsy or Parkinson's for example, to use their own brain stem cells as a treatment. The key finding was that the adult stem cells had the ability to turn into all types of brain tissue in the rats. This includes the neocortex, which deals with higher processing, and the hippocampus, involved in memory and spatial awareness. "We're showing the most dramatic integration of human adult neurons into rat brains," says Steven Roper of the University of Florida in Gainesville, who carried out the work. Roper extracted the adult stem cells from tissue he had taken from a teenage girl's brain as part of standard epilepsy surgery. He and his colleague Dennis Steindler multiplied the cells in the lab, then genetically engineered them so that they would glow green under ultraviolet light. Next, they injected groups of the cells into the brains of newborn rats. Three weeks later, they examined the rats' brains and found green cells throughout. "The cells matured into neurons appropriate for each part of the brain they reached," says Roper. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 11: Motor Control and Plasticity
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 5: The Sensorimotor System
Link ID: 14761 - Posted: 12.11.2010

by Amy Barth As a chemical engineering grad student at Caltech, Sarah Heilshorn could not make up her mind: “One day I wanted to work on green chemistry; then I’d meet someone working on solar cells and think that was the specialty for me.” Clarity came after she heard a talk by David Tirrell, a Caltech engineer who designed synthetic biomolecules. Soon he became Heilshorn’s mentor. “I was fascinated by the idea that engineers could program organisms to create new materials for medicine,” she explains. Now head of her own lab at Stanford, Heilshorn engineers proteins to aid neural stem cells in healing injured brains and spines. If I cut my hand, it heals on its own. Why is it so much harder to heal spinal cord injuries? Peripheral nerves like the ones in your hand regenerate well. Nerves in the spinal cord and brain do not. This might have to do with the blood-brain barrier, which protects the central nervous system but also makes drug delivery difficult. In addition, spine injuries are often caused by a crushing or twisting motion, so there may be bone fragments floating around and compromised blood flow to the region. You engineer proteins to help stem cells regenerate neurons. How does that work? Proteins are made of smaller molecules called amino acids, which combine to form modules. Some modules make a protein act like a spring; others help it bind to cells. I mix modules in new ways to create novel proteins with new functions, and then I mass-produce them [in the machine at right]. Copyright © 2010, Kalmbach Publishing Co.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 11: Motor Control and Plasticity
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 5: The Sensorimotor System
Link ID: 14743 - Posted: 12.06.2010

By Steve Connor, Science Editor Blind patients suffering from a type of eye disease that strikes in childhood will become the second group of people in the world to receive stem cells derived from spare IVF embryos left over from fertility treatment. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given the go-ahead for the controversial transplant of embryonic stem cells into the eyes of patients with Stargardt's macular degeneration, where the light-sensitive retina cells at the back of eye are destroyed. The announcement follows the first injection of embryonic stem cells into a patient in the US who is partially paralysed as a result of a spinal cord injury. Last October, a US biotechnology company, Geron, announced the start of the first clinical trial of embryonic stem cells with the hope of repairing damaged nerves. Another US biotechnology firm, Advanced Cell Technology, has now been given approval for a second clinical trial involving the injection of thousands of embryonic stem cells into the eyes of a dozen adult patients with a juvenile form of macular degeneration. Robert Lanza, the company's chief scientific officer, said that the first patient could receive the stem cell transplants early in the new year and although the trial is designed primarily to assess safety, the first signs of visual improvement may be apparent within weeks. "Talking to the clinicians, we could see something in six weeks, that's when we think we may see some improvements. It really depends on individual patients but that's a reasonable time frame when something may start to happen," Dr Lanza said. ©independent.co.uk

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 10: Vision: From Eye to Brain; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 7: Vision: From Eye to Brain; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 14699 - Posted: 11.22.2010

By Pallab Ghosh Doctors in Glasgow have injected stem cells into the brain of a stroke patient in an effort to find a new treatment for the condition. The elderly man is the first person in the world to receive this treatment - the start of a regulated trial at Southern General Hospital. He was given very low doses over the weekend and has since been discharged - and his doctors say he is doing well. Critics object as brain cells from foetuses were used to create the cells. The patient received a very low dose of stem cells in an initial trial to assess the safety of the procedure. Over the next year, up to 12 more patients will be given progressively higher doses - again primarily to assess safety - but doctors will be looking closely to see if the stem cells have begun to repair their brains and if their condition has improved. The company making the stem cells says the trial has ethical approval from the medicine's regulator. BBC © MMX

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 14679 - Posted: 11.16.2010