Vitamin C transforms mouse stem cells into heart muscle cells

Vitamin C helped convert mouse embryonic stem cells growing in the laboratory to heart muscle cells, researchers report. This basic-research discovery could lead to future research on ways to treat people suffering from damaged heart muscle. “Although the findings of this study are very preliminary with respect to their impact on human lives, this line of research has enormous implications for the future care of thousands of patients who develop heart failure each year,” says Robert O. Bonow, M.D., president of the American Heart Association.

Stem cells: From bone marrow to pancreas

Researchers have shown that cells from the bone marrow give rise to insulin-producing cells in the pancreas of mice, opening a potential new way to treat diabetes. These morphed cells actually produce the hormone insulin in response to glucose and display other characteristics demonstrating that they truly function as pancreas cells, according to a new study by NYU School of Medicine researchers.

Researchers create powerful stem cells from blood

The particularly powerful ? and very scarce ? flexible forms of stem cells needed for medical research and treatment may now be both plentiful and simple to produce, with a new technology developed at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory ? and the source is as close as your own bloodstream. These flexible stem cells, able to morph into a variety of cell types, are called “pluripotent,” and before this Argonne research, they have been found only in fetal tissue, which is limited, and in bone marrow, which is difficult to collect. Pluripotent stem cells are important because they can generate all types of tissues found in the body, and the Argonne-developed technology can produce them from adult blood cells.

Gene targeting technique extended to stem cells

The technique that helped revolutionize modern biology by making the mouse a crucible of genetic manipulation and a window to human disease has been extended to human embryonic stem (ES) cells. In a study published today (Feb. 10) in the online editions of the journal Nature Biotechnology, a team of scientists from UW-Madison reports that it has developed methods for recombining segments of DNA within stem cells.

Researchers achieve germline transmission of ‘gene knockdown’ in mice

RNA interference (RNAi) has emerged as an extremely versatile and powerful tool in biomedical research. A new study published in the February issue of Nature Structural Biology reports the creation of transgenic mice in which inherited RNAi lowers or silences the expression of a target gene, producing a stable “gene knockdown.” This finding extends the power of RNAi to genetic studies in live animals, and has far-reaching implications for the study and treatment of many human diseases.

Human heart tissue generated from embryonic stem cells

Human heart tissue has for the first time been created in the laboratory. Generated from embryonic stem cells, the tissue could be used for testing and creating new drugs, for genetic studies, for tissue engineering and for studying the effects of various stresses on the heart. “Everyone imagines the possibilities of embryonic stem cells in repairing broken hearts, but stem cell technology offers even more — and it offers it much earlier,” said Dr. Lior Gepstein of the Technion Faculty of Medicine who headed the study. “Currently, we test drugs on animals, but we would get more reliable results if we tested them on the actual human tissues.”

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