Stem cell tracking system promises more targeted regenerative therapies

Stem cell tracking system promises more targeted regenerative therapies

Stem cells hold enormous potential for repairing or regenerating damaged tissue. But delivery of these cells to their target location remains a major obstacle. Now, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine in California have developed a novel nanoparticle-based system that allows stem cells to be tracked in real time in a living mouse for up to a year after injection. This work, if replicated in humans, could finally allow scientists to verify if these cells are going where they’re intended.  Read more

Red blood cell production relies on white blood cell help

Red blood cell production relies on white blood cell help

Red blood cell production in the bone marrow is a precarious process. Too few RBCs and you can become anemic; too many and you could be suffering from polycythemia vera, a rare, so-called ‘myeloproliferative’ genetic disorder marked by an abnormally high RBC count. Now, researchers have identified a surprising player in the regulation of RBC production under these disease conditions. Reporting online today in Nature Medicine, two independent teams describe the pivotal role of macrophages—amoeba-like white blood cells responsible for digesting harmful foreign microbes and removing old or dying cells—for generating RBCs in both anemic and over-proliferative conditions.  Read more

Competition intensifies over market for DNA-based prenatal tests

Noninvasive Prenatal Genetic Test Compared

Prenatal DNA testing has been a fiercely contested market of late. Yet another competitor entered the fray last week when Natera, a startup based in San Carlos, California, announced the 1 March launch date of a commercial test that can detect chromosomal abnormalities in the developing fetus from just a drop of an expectant mother’s blood—and with a sensitivity on par of that of more invasive techniques such as amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling, both of which carry an elevated risk of miscarriage.  Read more