Stem Cell Nutrition -- Video and Articles

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Stem Cells May Treat Diabetes

Scientists Coax Embryonic Stem Cells to Treat Mice With a Condition Like Type 1 Diabetes
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Researchers report using embryonic stem cells to treat a condition like type 1 diabetes in mice.

Stem cells are cells that can develop into other types of cells. Embryonic stem cells can develop into a wide range of cell types.

In lab tests on mice, scientists at a San Diego company called Novocell grafted human embryonic stem cells into abdominal fat in mice. Before being implanted into the mice, those stem cells had been prepped to develop into pancreatic cells that get killed in type 1 diabetes.

Thirty days after implantation, the embryonic stem cells had morphed into pancreatic cells. And about two months after that, those pancreatic cells were up to speed at producing insulin, a hormone that controls blood sugar.

The experiment proves the potential for embryonic stem cells to treat type 1 diabetes, note the researchers, who included Emmanuel Baetge, PhD.

But the process isn't yet ready for use in people.

Of the 46 grafts that Baetge's team transplanted into the mice, seven led to tumors. Scientists worldwide are working on ways to harness the potential of stem cells while minimizing health risks from stem cell treatment.

Baetge and colleagues report their findings online in Nature Biotechnology.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Stem Cells Run Through Stop Signs

Now scientists at Northwestern University and the University of Washington offer one of the first clues as to why stem cells ignore stop signs in the cell cycle: a special molecular mechanism has cut the brakes. The researchers found that tiny bits of genetic material called microRNAs are necessary for stem cell division to take place, suggesting that microRNAs shut off the signals that stop cell division in most other cells.

The findings were published online this week by the journal Nature. In the paper, the researchers also speculate that microRNAs may play a similar role in cancer cells, encouraging their proliferation. This speculation is supported by three other new papers published this week in Nature linking microRNAs to cancer.

According to authors Richard Carthew, Owen L. Coon Professor of Molecular Biology at Northwestern University, and Hannele Ruohola-Baker, professor of biochemistry at the University of Washington, microRNAs can regulate gene expression and give stem cells a green light to pass from the normal stop phase to the stage in which they begin replicating their DNA for later division.

In their work, Carthew and Ruohola-Baker focused on fruit flies, which have approximately 80 types of microRNAs. They genetically modified stem cells from the fruit flies' ovaries and studied how many egg chambers the mutant stem cells produced as compared to normal stem cells. The production rate in the mutant cells fell over the course of 12 days, and the researchers concluded it was because the mutant stem cells were no longer dividing.

Without the microRNAs at work, the brakes were applied to the cell division of the mutant stem cells, just like ordinary cells. The cellular brake (in this case a protein called Dacapo, a fruit fly homologue of a human tumor suppressor) kept the stem cells from proliferating.

"Determining which of the 80 microRNAs is responsible for deactivating the stop signal is the next step of our research," said Ruohola-Baker.

"The list of chores that microRNAs do within cells keeps growing in new and surprising ways," added Carthew. "This latest discovery with stem cell division makes us wonder if microRNAs also control division of other types of cells such as cancer cells."

Other authors on the Nature paper are Kenji Nakahara of Northwestern University and Karin Fischer, Steve Hatfield and Halyna Shcherbata of the University of Washington.


Adapted from materials provided by Northwestern University, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

repair system for the body

What are stem cells?

Stem cells have the remarkable potential to develop into many different cell types in the body. Serving as a sort of repair system for the body, they can theoretically divide without limit to replenish other cells as long as the person or animal is still alive. When a stem cell divides, each new cell has the potential to either remain a stem cell or become another type of cell with a more specialized function, such as a muscle cell, a red blood cell, or a brain cell.

This document covers basic information about stem cells. For a more detailed discussion, see our Stem Cell Reports. Or you can check the Frequently Asked Questions page for quick answers to specific queries.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

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