Sunday, December 19, 2010

Scientists succeed in direct cell conversion

Stanford researchers recently succeeded in changing mice skins cells directly in to bloods cells. The current method for such transformations requires the intermediate step of first turning the skin cells into induced pluripotent stem cells.
According to the researchers, this new method is simpler and easier. Researchers will now work on direcet conversion of other types of cells.
Here's an aritcle from the Milwaukee Wisconsin Journey Sentinel that gives a great overview of this new breakthrough.

lincRNAs improve cell reprogramming 8x

A recent study by Harvard and MIT researchers uncovered a potential breakthrough for developing iPSC therapies. The reseachers dicovered the lincRNAs play a vital role in cellular reprogramming. Apparently, lincRNAs are not only required to create induced pluripotent stem cells, but elevated levels of lincRNAs increases the efficiency of the process. Here are a few extracts from a Harvard Crimson article:
"In the study, the researchers detected elevated levels of lincRNAs in induced pluripotent stem cells, and found that the lincRNAs are also targeted by pluripotency reprogramming factors...
In fact, using lincRNAs increased the success rates of the reprogramming process up to eight times, compared to existing methods that do not use these molecules.
This finding may have significant implications for developing therapeutic interventions, Rinn said."
The full article can be found at

Friday, November 19, 2010

New system developed for culturing stem cells

A researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has developed a new method for culturing both embryonic and induced Pluripotent Stem Cells. The benefits of this appear to be that it doesn't use mouse proteins, currently part of the many existing approaches,  that could contaminate the stem cells.

From my understanding, this is another great step forward in developing the processes required for the wide spread therapeutic use of stem cells. Here's a link to the U.W. news site.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

How To Make Your Own Stem Cells

This a great article explaining Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer and how this technique can be applied to make matching stem cells for possible therapeutic use. This is an older and more controversial approach than using induced Pluripoten Stem Cells, but might avoid some of the current issues related to how iPSCs are created that increases the potential for malignancies and other issues.

SCNT related treatments are commonly referred to a therapeutic cloning. I believe this approach could be beneficial for creating both the types and volume of stem cells necessary to treat Cerebral Palsy. Another benefits of SCNT is that is should avoid graft vs. host issues, because the cells are identical to those of the patient.

Here's the link.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Scripps research scientists find nerve cell activity drains stem cell pool in developing brain

Scripps Research recently published these findings in the journal Neuron. Through this study researchers discovered that stem cell replication decreases as brain activity increases. They also found that the protein Musashi1 possibly plays a role in regulating stem cell replication. As Musashi1 levels decrease, so does stem stell replication.

Does these finding mean that Musashi1 proteins could be used to stimlate repair in the adult brain? Or do these findings also suggest that stem cells used thearpeutically will self regulate as they begin to differentiate and brain activity increases? At a minimum this study suggests there are additional avenues to pursue for treatment of numerous neural diseases and conditions.

Here's a link to a related article at

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day

This video includes some great statistics about Cerebral Palsy. With advances in stem cell research, now is the time to make additional investments into Cerebral Palsy treatments. If anyone knows of any existing legislative or other efforts to increase funding for CP research please let me know. I am willing to participate in and to advocate for these initiatives!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Virus-free technique enables Stanford scientists to easily make stem cells pluripotent

This Feb. 2010 news release highlights a new method for inducing pluripotent stem cells that reduces some of the risks associated with using these cells for therapy. The initial induced cells are not neural, but hopefully this process can be used to create these types of cells as well and is another step towards safe stem cell therapies for all types of medical conditions, including Cerebral Palsy.