Scientists sound alarm over DNA editing of human embryos

Scientists sound alarm over DNA editing of human embryos
Exper ts call for halt in research to work out safety and ethics issues.
12 March 2015

Amid rumours that precision gene-editing techniques have been used to modify the DNA of human embryos, researchers have called for a moratorium on the use of the technology in reproductive cells.

NPR version:

Stem cell factories found inside teeth

Glial origin of mesenchymal stem cells in a tooth model system
Nina Kaukua, et al.
Nature (2014). Published online  27 July 2014

Mesenchymal stem cells occupy niches in stromal tissues where they provide sources of cells for specialized mesenchymal derivatives during growth and repair.
The origins of mesenchymal stem cells have been the subject of considerable discussion, and current consensus holds that perivascular cells form mesenchymal stem cells in most tissues.
The continuously growing mouse incisor tooth offers an excellent model to address the origin of mesenchymal stem cells.
These stem cells dwell in a niche at the tooth apex where they produce a variety of differentiated derivatives.
Cells constituting the tooth are mostly derived from two embryonic sources: neural crest ectomesenchyme and ectodermal epithelium. It has been thought for decades that the dental mesenchymal stem cells giving rise to pulp cells and odontoblasts derive from neural crest cells after their migration in the early head and formation of ectomesenchymal tissue.

Here we show that a significant population of mesenchymal stem cells during development, self-renewal and repair of a tooth are derived from peripheral nerve-associated glia. Glial cells generate multipotent mesenchymal stem cells that produce pulp cells and odontoblasts. By combining a clonal colour-coding technique6 with tracing of peripheral glia, we provide new insights into the dynamics of tooth organogenesis and growth.

journalistic version:

MSCT for refractory SLE

Umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cell transplantation in active and refractory systemic lupus erythematosus: a multicenter clinical study
Dandan Wang, et al. (Beike Biotechnology Co., Ltd.)
Arthritis Research & Therapy 2014, 16:R79

Conclusion: UC-MSCT results in satisfactory clinical response in SLE patients.
However, in our present study, several patients experienced disease relapse after 6 months, indicating the necessity to repeat MSCT after 6 months.

MSCs are multipotent, nonhematopoietic progenitor cells that are currently being explored as a promising new treatment for tissue regeneration. Although their immunomodulatory properties are not yet completely understood, their low immunogenic potential, together with their effects on immune responses, make them a promising therapeutic tool for the treatment of patients with severe and refractory autoimmune diseases.

Stem-Cell Therapy in China Draws Foreign Patients
March 18, 2008

Young mouse blood rejuvenates old brains

Young blood rejuvenates old brains 
Nature Medicine 20, 582–583 (2014)

Villeda et al. show that young blood contains a factor that reverses some aspects of age-related cognitive impairment in mice. Parabiosis in which aged mice are conjoined with aged mice such that their circulatory systems are connected results in no change in synaptic plasticity.
However, parabiois between aged and young mice results in increased expression of proteins involved in synaptic plasticity, and an increased number of dendritic spines and synaptic plasticity in aged mice, as measured by enhanced long-term potentiation in these mice.



Crashing Through

Crashing Through
by Robert Kurson
May 24, 2007

Michael May was blinded at age three, and lived 42 years of his life without sight. In 1999, at age 45, May was given the possibility to see again through a revolutionary stem-cell transplant surgery.

macular degeneration

Healing hearing: regeneration of sensory hair cells

The delicate sensory hair cells in the inner ear can be damaged by loud noise.

Baby Steps Toward Healing Hearing
Science. 20 February 2014

Hairy situation. Just like in human ears, the delicate sensory hairs in the rat inner ear (shown above) can be damaged by loud noise, chemicals, and infection.

There is no biological cure for deafness—yet. We detect sound using sensory cells sporting microscopic hairlike projections, and when these so-called hair cells deep inside the inner ear are destroyed by illness or loud noise, they are gone forever. Or so scientists thought. A new study finds specific cells in the inner ear of newborn mice that regenerate these sensory cells—even after damage, potentially opening up a way to treat deafness in humans.

Researchers knew that cells in the inner ear below hair cells—known as supporting cells—can become the sensory cells themselves when stimulated by a protein that blocks Notch signaling, which is an important mechanism for cell communication. Albert Edge, a stem cell biologist at Harvard Medical School in Boston, and his colleagues, attempted to identify the exact type of supporting cells that transform into sensory ones and fill in the gaps left by the damaged cells.

precision medicine

Grow Your Own Organs

Grow Your Own Organs
BBC. November 2013
Pioneer scientist Dame Julia Polak speaks to Adam Shaw about one day growing our own organs

Before we turned up to interview our main guest for this programme, we were all asked to confirm we didn’t have a cold, were well and certainly did not have anything infectious. We were filming a leading light of medicine who, because she has had a heart and lung transplant, was very susceptible to any disease. She is typical of a new frontier of medical advance in which the future of medicine lies not in the hands of traditional medical experts but with bio-engineers

This new technology builds new body parts from the cells up, enabling patients to receive new transplants from tissues grown from their own bodies. It is a science in its infancy but it has the power to transform the way we think of medicine and ageing.

Imperial College London. Dame Julia Polak is founder of the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Centre at Imperial College. Extraordinarily, in 1995 she was also the recipient of a heart and lung transplant, making her one of the longest survivors of the procedure. It was an experience which led her to a pioneering career in the fledgling science of growing new organs from cells.

The new technologies mean scientists can create a three-dimensional structure which can be implanted into the patient. There have been some initial clinical trials for the heart and for the bladder.

A group in the US created a three-dimensional tissue engineered bladder in the laboratory and implanted it into children and eight years on the bladder is still working.

Dame Julia Polak admits the new knowledge may mean, in theory, we could live forever.
“Who knows what will happen in five or ten years but there are lots of hurdles to overcome because there are regulatory hurdles, financial hurdles and creating an atmosphere of really multidisciplinary teams including everybody including patients

Stanford University in California.
Professor Ada Poon has developed a revolutionary prototype device. Powered and controlled by radio waves generated outside of the body, it is so small it could move through a patient’s bloodstream, collecting medical data or delivering medication.
This could be the start of miniature robot doctors searching through your body, looking for problems and fixing them.

It sounds like a movie but it’s probably too unbelievable for fiction. For the whole truth about the possibilities of future medicine, tune into our Horizons programme on robotics and the future of medicine.


Technobody A new science with the power to transform medicine and ageing

Key megatrend: Technobody

tissue engineering