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Induced pluripotent stem cells display near-mythic flexibility

Induced pluripotent stem cells may be capable of forming any imaginable creature, at least in miniature form. Short of funds and unable to buy fibroblast growth factor (FGF) to study her induced pluripotent stem cells, Sheila Nagin of Yount University decided to try something desperate. A herpetologist colleague had been studying the development of scales, and she added some of his reagents to the mix. To her surprise, the cells grew into what appeared, morphologically, to be embryonic stem cells. When she tried to assessing the cells by injecting them into an immunecompromised mouse, the cells grew, not into the expected teratomas, but into small furry lizards.  Read more

Comments on two previous posts

Lee Buckler has pointed out on my business round-up that the merger between reagents-and-animal-cells company Stem Cell Sciences in the UK and the cell therapy company StemCells in California creates a single company with near-term, medium-term and long-term sources of revenue. That makes sense to me, even though the differences in technologies and the geography seem hard to manage. Also, he just posted a very comprehensive round-up himself. You can see them here.  Read more

Re-differentiated reprogrammed cells recapitulate patients’ disease; other breaking stories

Induced pluripotent stem cells derived from patients with the neurodegenerative disease called spinal muscular atrophy display characteristics of the disease, according to a paper published today in Nature. Thus, iPS cells look to be fulfilling their promise of being powerful tools to study sickness and screen for drugs to stop it. (See Reprogrammed skins cells are testing ground for new drugs ). iPS cells have been made from patients with a variety of diseases (See Ten diseases in a dish). However, this is the first demonstration I know of that shows that the cells show the phenotype of the disease.  Read more

$1.4 billion stem-cell deal; stem-cell measure in Michigan; cloning resurrection; heart scaffolds

Besides electing a new president, voters in Michigan are standing in line this morning to decide on whether state scientists can try to derive embryonic stem cells from embryos left over after fertility treatments. (See Nature news coverage ). There are plenty of non-election stem cell stories out there, too.  Read more

Regenerated prostates; stem cells from plucked hair; what’s a stem cell?

Below, I’ll paste highlights of a Nature paper showing that entire mouse prostates can be regenerated from a single cell: nice evidence of stem cells’ power plus the ability to find these rare cells. Also, in the race to create pluripotent cells without embryos or genetic engineering, some cell types seem easier than others. A paper in Nature Biotechnology shows that an easily reprogrammable cell type is also the easiest to get in a biopsy.  Read more

Advanced Cell Technology going broke

News reports today say that embryonic-stem cell company Advanced Cell Technology is running out of money and won’t be able to keep up its operations past the end of the month. The company is well known for its efforts to clone human embryonic stem cells and also for its efforts use embryonic stem cells to treat blindness.  Read more