The Niche

Round-up of regenerative medicine stories and a big, squeaking accomplishment

Two groups of researchers have at last completed a stringent test to show that induced pluripotent stem cells have the same developmental potential as embryonic stem cells: inserted into a special embryo, they can contribute to all the cells in a new mouse, litters of which have now been produced. (See the Nature news story)

GoogleNews was saturated this morning with stories of how to regenerate the heart:

Here’s my Nature news story about Bernhard Kuhn’s Cell paper. If its implications play out, there are routes to regenerating the heart besides stem cells.

The very same week, a report came out from Andre Terzic, showing the cells differentiated from induced pluripotent stem cells can have functional benefit in heart disease.

U.S. News and World Reports has a story on work presented by Toshinao Takahashi, a research fellow at Chiba University Graduate School of Medicine in Chiba, Japan, showing that stem cells can make for a biological pacemaker. In experiments with mice, researchers corrected electrical problems of the heart.

And a clinical trial using cells cultured from heart biopsies has just begun in earnest, with the first patient receiving the injection. You can get to more details about that and other trials here. Oh, and a PR guy from Aastrom pointed me to this story describing cell therapies being studied for heart disease.

At the beginning of this month, I wrote about evidence that a heart progenitor previously found in mice does exist in humans and is capable of making all the major types of heart tissue. In that story, the fact that would most interest basic cardiac researchers wasn’t as explicit as I’d like: you can make these heart progenitors and then use Wnt signaling to get them to proliferate. Voila, enough cells to study.

Finally, some older stories that I still quite like: interviews with Ken Chien and Christine Mummery on the road ahead for regenerative medicine, and an exploration of the new wave of stem cell trials for heart disease.


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