There is good news in attempts to halt HIV by growing, in patients, new immune systems lacking a gene that led to the first—and only—cured HIV patient. Using hematopoietic (blood) stem cells possessing a CCR5 gene mutation that blocks CD4 T cell entry of HIV, Calimmune—led by Nobel Laureate David Baltimore—has, for one year, safely begun growing new immune systems in patients.
Led by Charlie Rose, top US stem cell experts hailed new clinic-bound techniques designed to persuade “aspects of the body to cure itself,” as New York Stem Cell Foundation head Susan Solomon put it. The main technique discussed creates stem cells out of adult cells, then shapes those into armies of robust, specialized cells that may let people cure their own blindness; kill their own tumors; and “obliterate” their own infertility.
The STAP “acid bath” cell saga has been filled with twists and turns. Now, in the latest development, most members of the committee investigating the work are under investigation themselves, and the committee chairman, Shunsuke Ishii, has resigned.
Stress can naturally prompt mammals to make “extraordinary” stem cells from certain “ordinary” mature cells by dedifferentiation. Three strong papers finding this came out within weeks of the controversial Nature “acid bath” work, which was about dedifferentiating mature cells into stem cells via the stress of acid. Confidence in the “acid” work hit a new low. But the other three studies drew some raves.
Cloning pioneer Teru Wakayama found two STAP stem cell batches made for recent Nature STAP papers were apparently not derived from a 129 mouse strain, as he was told, but F1 and B6 strains. While the erroneous data, which appeared in one of the papers, does not affect the works' main thrust, it is spurring calls for reviews of other STAP stem cell sources.
Nature has rejected the paper of a top Hong Kong researcher whose lab several times failed to replicate results of the now-famous “acid bath” stem cell papers. That researcher is now trying to reproduce the work as it appears in yet another new updated protocol, posted Thursday by Harvard researchers. Meanwhile, in interviews, Harvard's Vacanti clarifies some mysteries.
Harvard's Charles Vacanti will post tips to make "acid bath" stem cells as early as today. This, even as "acid bath" lead author Haruko Obokata said she plans to withdraw her 2011 thesis. And four of 14 co-authors of "acid bath" papers—along with some coauthors’ boss— want them retracted. Yet that same boss signaled confidence in the papers' premise. “Almost too amazing,” says CIRM's recent chief.
A recipe detailing how to make extraordinary stem cells from ordinary cells—just by "stressing" them with acid—will "soon" be posted for all to try, says Riken. This could settle much controversy surrounding the cells...or spur more. Meanwhile, there have been "anecdotes" of success.
Stem cells are the most potent cells in the body. But they can also become, it seems increasingly clear, the most dangerous cells in the body--serving as a biological safe house for HIV. Indeed, the ability of HIV to linger in the body for decades may be due to the simple fact that stem cells live for decades...Then, of course, there's cancer.
Dormant viruses can lie within a human host until the proper conditions for their activity are provided. You might think of viruses' as robots that need to take over a factory to make more of themselves. Without that, the viruses are dormant.
Over the last few months, the Nobel Prize has generated much controversy—again. More than 3,000 scientists contributed to the most high profile science event of 2012: the discovery of the Higgs boson subatomic particle. Yet the Nobel can only be split between three laureates. Was the Nobel Prize finally obsolete, the press fretted, in one angst-ridden blog after another?
Stem cells are pretty amazing things. Almost weekly, I seem to come across research briefs describing beneficial applications that were unimaginable just a few years ago.
A recent study from Henry Ford hospital in Detroit has confirmed that insomnia can lead to hypertension. The study has shown that hypertension was more prevalent in people suffering from insomnia compared with normal sleepers.
I’ve learned lately that there are some advantages to working on a magazine covering life science technology and producing a daily newsletter filled with research news. Every now and then, I come across a story that directly impacts me or my family and inspires change.
Have you ever been in a situation where you see someone you recognize but for some reason you can’t remember their name? It can be quite an awkward situation, and while you may greet them and be smiling on the outside, you’re intensely rummaging around your brain for a name—hoping they don’t realize that you have forgotten it. This is a common situation, but no one ever seems to wonder why it is that we can remember a face but not always a name.
Smoking cigarettes has been said to be one of the hardest habits to quit. But being that it is so harmful on the heart and lungs, many smokers are trying their best to put down the cigarette and improve their health. Unfortunately, the beginning of this process can be the hardest and individuals find themselves unhappy and longing for a puff.