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Papers: Reprogramming [cells], resetting [expression], and revising [ideas on cell fate]

Here are some recently published papers that caught my eye: a pair of papers showing that small molecules boost the success of turning regular-old cells into embryonic-like cells (called induced pluripotent cells); one paper even shows that the ubiquitous pluripotency gene Oct4 is not required. These are in Nature Biotechnology and Cell Stem Cell, and they’ll be up on my site as formal research highlights on July 3. You can see them now below. The author of the Cell Stem Cell paper recently spoke to us about how small molecules can control stem cells.  Read more

Send me your write-ups of ISSCR

I’m overwhelmed with notes that I feel like I need to fact-check, but I’d like to get something up sooner rather than later. So here’s a speed-writing experiment. I’ve set the timer for twenty minutes, and I’ll tap out my impresssions. All of you who read this blog and have something to say (that’s not a press release), send me your links!  Read more

Stem cell trials for the heart, getting bigger

The FDA has given the go-ahead for a medium-scale trial to test bone-marrow cells to treat heart disease. Previously, the company had tested using patients’ own cells for heart therapy, but this time they hope to use cells derived from other patients. An April release from the company describes another, smaller trial using non-self or allogeneic cells. The just-announced trial will include study 15 control patients plus 45 patients who will receive different doses of cells, and patients’ outcomes will be followed for a year. If done correctly, such a design could answer important, growing questions in the use of these mesenchymal cells for heart disease.  Read more

UK members of parliament vote to allow human-animal chimeras

Debate on the issue of whether hybrid embryos can be created for research continues on Tuesday, but on Monday, members of parliament voted 336-176 to allow animal eggs to be combined with human DNA for research, particularly developing techniques and developing research-grade embryonic stem cells. The experiments would be licensed by government regulators.  Read more

Thickets and gaps blocking stem cell science

A million fixes can add up to one big mess. If everyone holds tight to his own tools, few work well. These were the grand problems identified in an all-day workshop on barriers to stem-cell research and collaborative efforts to remove them. The workshop was held by the Berkeley Stem Cell Center on the University of San Francisco campus on February 6.  Read more