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Hearing with your Nose: How Nasal Stem Cells Could Tackle Childhood Hearing Problems

Durham, NC – Stem Cell scientists in Australia have found that patients suffering from hearing problems which began during infancy and childhood could benefit from a transplant of stem cells from their nose. The research, published today in STEM CELLS, reveals that mucosa-derived stem cells can help preserve hearing function during the early-onset of sensorineural hearing loss.

Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by the loss of sensory cells or neurons in the cochlea, the sensory organ of the inner ear responsible for hearing. The condition can have genetic causes, often arising during infancy and childhood, hindering cognitive development and leading to speech and language problems.

Reprogramming: what’s next?

A commentary on a recent mRNA reprogramming paper by Loring Lab Researchers:
Trevor Leonardo, Ileana Slavin and Ha Tran

Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) have great potential in the fields of basic research, disease modeling and regenerative medicine with their unique property of unlimited self-renewal and ability to differentiate into any cell type in the body. However, the methods used to obtain hESCs include destroying an embryo and thus pose major ethical concerns. Researchers have recently made great breakthroughs in methods to genetically reprogram differentiated adult cells into a stem cell-like state. These induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) can be made from any individual, from a bit of skin or a few strands of hair, and so do not pose the same ethical concerns as hESCs.

Robo4 Guides Grafted Blood Stem Cells to the Bone Marrow

New results from the laboratory of Camilla Forsberg at the Institute for the Biology of Stem Cells, University of Santa Cruz, California are beginning to unravel the mechanisms by which transplanted haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) localise to the bone marrow niche. HSC transplants are a common treatment for various illnesses including certain blood cancers and their correct localisation is critical to the successful function of grafted cells. In their study, Smith-Berdan et al. investigated the guidance molecule Robo4 and discovered its role as a HSC-specific adhesion molecule by facilitating the adhesion of HSCs to the bone marrow niche. They demonstrate that HSCs lacking Robo4 have reduced capacity to localise within the bone marrow following transplantation, drastically reducing long term reconstitution. They demonstrate that Robo4 exerts its effects in cooperation with the Cxcr4 protein, and that inhibition of both these proteins mediates HSC mobilisation. The identification of putative therapeutic targets in HSC transplantation therapy will no doubt lead to greater success of this strategy by enabling more specific integration of grafted cells.

Robo4 Guides Grafted Blood Stem Cells to the Bone Marrow

New results from the laboratory of Camilla Forsberg at the Institute for the Biology of Stem Cells, University of Santa Cruz, California are beginning to unravel the mechanisms by which transplanted haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) localise to the bone marrow niche. HSC transplants are a common treatment for various illnesses including certain blood cancers and their correct localisation is critical to the successful function of grafted cells. In their study, Smith-Berdan et al. investigated the guidance molecule Robo4 and discovered its role as a HSC-specific adhesion molecule by facilitating the adhesion of HSCs to the bone marrow niche. They demonstrate that HSCs lacking Robo4 have reduced capacity to localise within the bone marrow following transplantation, drastically reducing long term reconstitution. They demonstrate that Robo4 exerts its effects in cooperation with the Cxcr4 protein, and that inhibition of both these proteins mediates HSC mobilisation. The identification of putative therapeutic targets in HSC transplantation therapy will no doubt lead to greater success of this strategy by enabling more specific integration of grafted cells.

An Interview with Sally Moody

moody

 

An Interview with Sally A. Moody

By Carla Mellough

‘I became very interested in the question of whether maternal molecules could determine the fates of the Xenopus blastomeres’

Nutritional Signals Regulate Stem Cell Quiescence and Proliferation

It has been over ten years since the physiological link between nutritional input and growth and development in Drosophila was established, yet the mechanisms downstream of nutritional stimuli that act to regulate the growth of the organism were unknown. Results published recently in Cell from Chell and Brand at the Gurdon Institute and Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge now shed light on the identity and action of these nutrition-dependent signals. Their research reveals that following nutritional stimulus neural stem cells (or neuroblasts) exit quiescence in response to the release of insulin/insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-like peptides (ILP2 and ILP6) from adjacent glial cells. The authors demonstrate that these peptides elicit their effect by means of the insulin-like receptor on glial cells and that this activates the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)-Akt pathway. Whilst the authors noted elevated PI3K activation as neuroblasts were entering the proliferation stage, absence of the PI3K catalytic subunit maintained neuroblasts in the quiescent state. Their results provide insight into systemic control of neuroblasts by nutrition, and highlights glia as a key regulator of the stem cell niche.

Nutritional Signals Regulate Stem Cell Quiescence and Proliferation

It has been over ten years since the physiological link between nutritional input and growth and development in Drosophila was established, yet the mechanisms downstream of nutritional stimuli that act to regulate the growth of the organism were unknown. Results published recently in Cell from Chell and Brand at the Gurdon Institute and Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge now shed light on the identity and action of these nutrition-dependent signals. Their research reveals that following nutritional stimulus neural stem cells (or neuroblasts) exit quiescence in response to the release of insulin/insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-like peptides (ILP2 and ILP6) from adjacent glial cells. The authors demonstrate that these peptides elicit their effect by means of the insulin-like receptor on glial cells and that this activates the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)-Akt pathway. Whilst the authors noted elevated PI3K activation as neuroblasts were entering the proliferation stage, absence of the PI3K catalytic subunit maintained neuroblasts in the quiescent state. Their results provide insight into systemic control of neuroblasts by nutrition, and highlights glia as a key regulator of the stem cell niche.

Stem Cell Cures for HIV?

By Stuart P. Atkinson

UNAIDS (Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS) estimated that at the end of 2009 33.3 million people were living with HIV, and that in the same year there had been 1.8 million AIDS-related deaths and 2.6 million new infections (UN Millennium Goals report 2010). The benefits of anti-retroviral therapy (ART) have been demonstrated in some patients, however, resistance can develop, therapy is expensive (meaning that the vast majority of sufferers cannot have access) and multiple organ toxicity occurs with long-term use. Therefore, a safer and more cost effective therapy is clearly required. There have been reported cases of patients living with long-term HIV infection without progression to AIDS and in other cases patients seem to have some degree of immunity when exposed to the virus – both scenarios suggest a possible genetic influence on an individual’s response to HIV infection.

Stem Cell Cures for HIV?

By Stuart P. Atkinson

UNAIDS (Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS) estimated that at the end of 2009 33.3 million people were living with HIV, and that in the same year there had been 1.8 million AIDS-related deaths and 2.6 million new infections (UN Millennium Goals report 2010). The benefits of anti-retroviral therapy (ART) have been demonstrated in some patients, however, resistance can develop, therapy is expensive (meaning that the vast majority of sufferers cannot have access) and multiple organ toxicity occurs with long-term use. Therefore, a safer and more cost effective therapy is clearly required. There have been reported cases of patients living with long-term HIV infection without progression to AIDS and in other cases patients seem to have some degree of immunity when exposed to the virus – both scenarios suggest a possible genetic influence on an individual’s response to HIV infection.

Stem Cell Cause of Baldness??

While not being a life threatening condition, male pattern baldness affects (or will affect!) a great number of males and can also affect females too. A recent study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation by Garza et al., from the lab of George Cotsarelis at the University Of Pennsylvania School Of Medicine places the blame for this condition squarely at the feet of our stem cells. Common baldness (or Androgenetic alopecia (AGA)), is characterized by a marked decrease in hair follicle size but this had not previously been linked to the stem cells which reside within the hair follicle. The study found that the resident hair follicle stem cells remain at the same number in bald and control patients but the conversion of stem cells to the progenitor cells required for cell and hair growth was diminished in bald patients, leading to the miniaturisation of the hair follicle stem cell compartment. Therefore strategies to coax the stem cells into producing more hair follicle progenitor cells may generate bigger hair follicles capable of restoring hair growth.

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