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Keeping abreast of cell fate hierarchy: mammary tissue can bounce both ways

By Carla Mellough

The dogma that stem cells exist at the apex of a cellular hierarchy and divide to self-renew as well as generate more differentiated progeny in a unidirectional fashion may now be under question following a recent report published in PNAS. The paper, by Christine Chaffer et al., originates from various academic centres in Massachusetts and provides evidence that a certain type of human mammary epithelial cell displays an unexpected degree of plasticity, and can revert from a more differentiated cell towards a stem cell-like state. Observations that normal and neoplastic cells can naturally co-exist in populations of epithelial cells grown in vitro led the authors to study the biology of subpopulations of primary human mammary epithelial cells (HMECs) and HMECs from a human breast cancer cell line. And what they discovered in fact is that breast cells can swing either way.

Keeping abreast of cell fate hierarchy: mammary tissue can bounce both ways

By Carla Mellough

The dogma that stem cells exist at the apex of a cellular hierarchy and divide to self-renew as well as generate more differentiated progeny in a unidirectional fashion may now be under question following a recent report published in PNAS. The paper, by Christine Chaffer et al., originates from various academic centres in Massachusetts and provides evidence that a certain type of human mammary epithelial cell displays an unexpected degree of plasticity, and can revert from a more differentiated cell towards a stem cell-like state. Observations that normal and neoplastic cells can naturally co-exist in populations of epithelial cells grown in vitro led the authors to study the biology of subpopulations of primary human mammary epithelial cells (HMECs) and HMECs from a human breast cancer cell line. And what they discovered in fact is that breast cells can swing either way.

The Controlled Generation of Functional Basal Forebrain Cholinergic Neurons from Human Embryonic Stem Cells

From the May 2011 Issue of Stem Cells

Paper Commentary by Stuart P. Atkinson

Dementia, and specifically Alzheimer's disease (AD), may be among the most costly diseases for society in Europe and the United States, and with the continual increase in the aged population promises only to get worse, with 1 in 85 persons worldwide of all ages predicted to suffer by the year 2050 (Brookmeyer et al). Therefore, treatment for this type of disease, in particular cell replacement therapy, is highly sought after. A constant feature of AD is the loss of basal forebrain cholinergic neurons (BFCNs) and is associated with problems in spatial learning and memory, and therefore a source of these cells for possible replacement therapy would be of great advantage. Using data known about BFCNs arising from studies of the mouse median ganglionic eminence (MGE), the laboratory of John A. Kessler at the Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois, USA set out to determine a suitable source of cells for cell replacement therapy. This study (Bissonnette et al) is published in the May 2011 edition of Stem Cells.

The Controlled Generation of Functional Basal Forebrain Cholinergic Neurons from Human Embryonic Stem Cells

From the May 2011 Issue of Stem Cells

Paper Commentary by Stuart P. Atkinson

Dementia, and specifically Alzheimer's disease (AD), may be among the most costly diseases for society in Europe and the United States, and with the continual increase in the aged population promises only to get worse, with 1 in 85 persons worldwide of all ages predicted to suffer by the year 2050 (Brookmeyer et al). Therefore, treatment for this type of disease, in particular cell replacement therapy, is highly sought after. A constant feature of AD is the loss of basal forebrain cholinergic neurons (BFCNs) and is associated with problems in spatial learning and memory, and therefore a source of these cells for possible replacement therapy would be of great advantage. Using data known about BFCNs arising from studies of the mouse median ganglionic eminence (MGE), the laboratory of John A. Kessler at the Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois, USA set out to determine a suitable source of cells for cell replacement therapy. This study (Bissonnette et al) is published in the May 2011 edition of Stem Cells.

Snakes and ladders –some stem cell players win, other lose

Lyle Armstrong, Stem Cells Portal Editor

Human Stem cell research has never had an easy time in terms of public acceptance and government regulation so workers in this field should be accustomed to controversial decisions affecting the future of this endeavour. Neither is it rare for two areas of the world to hold diametrically opposed views about stem cell research but in recent weeks we have seen decisions taking this polarity to a higher level. On the one hand, the USA has this week given a potentially enormous boost to Human Embryonic Stem Cell development by removing the ban on public funding for embryonic stem cell research. Set against this is the recent statement made by the court of justice of the European Union, that procedures involving established human embryonic stem cell lines are not patentable.

Snakes and ladders –some stem cell players win, other lose

Lyle Armstrong, Stem Cells Portal Editor

Human Stem cell research has never had an easy time in terms of public acceptance and government regulation so workers in this field should be accustomed to controversial decisions affecting the future of this endeavour. Neither is it rare for two areas of the world to hold diametrically opposed views about stem cell research but in recent weeks we have seen decisions taking this polarity to a higher level. On the one hand, the USA has this week given a potentially enormous boost to Human Embryonic Stem Cell development by removing the ban on public funding for embryonic stem cell research. Set against this is the recent statement made by the court of justice of the European Union, that procedures involving established human embryonic stem cell lines are not patentable.

So how different are they? - New Analyses show the Equivalence of Karyotypic Abnormalities in iPSC and ESC

From Nature Biotechnology.

Recent correspondence in Nature Biotechnology has suggested that there are no notable differences in the incidence of chromosomal aberrations between ESC and iPSC. The paper (Taapken et al) from Karen D Montgomery of the WiCell Research Institute in Wisconsin analysed 552 cultures of 219 human iPSC lines and 1,163 cultures from 40 human ESC lines from 97 investigators in 29 laboratories - no mean feat. Their analysis showed that 12.5% of the iPSC lines had an abnormal karyotype while the figure in the ESC lines was 12.9%.This wide study is generally at odds with multiple recent publications (See Genetic Instability in Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells: One Step Forward in Understanding, Two Steps Back from the Clinic?).

So how different are they? - New Analyses show the Equivalence of Karyotypic Abnormalities in iPSC and ESC

From Nature Biotechnology.

Recent correspondence in Nature Biotechnology has suggested that there are no notable differences in the incidence of chromosomal aberrations between ESC and iPSC. The paper (Taapken et al) from Karen D Montgomery of the WiCell Research Institute in Wisconsin analysed 552 cultures of 219 human iPSC lines and 1,163 cultures from 40 human ESC lines from 97 investigators in 29 laboratories - no mean feat. Their analysis showed that 12.5% of the iPSC lines had an abnormal karyotype while the figure in the ESC lines was 12.9%.This wide study is generally at odds with multiple recent publications (See Genetic Instability in Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells: One Step Forward in Understanding, Two Steps Back from the Clinic?).

CD24: a Novel Surface Marker for PDX1-Positive Pancreatic Progenitors Derived from Human Embryonic Stem Cells

From the April 2011 Issue of Stem Cells

Paper Commentary by Stuart P. Atkinson

Pancreatic beta cell replacement for the treatment of type I diabetes mellitus through the directed differentiation of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) is one of the great hopes for regenerative medicine. Great strides have been made towards this goal, although the efficient production of functionally mature functional beta cells from hESC-pancreatic progenitor cells has not yet been reported. One of the main limitations is the heterogeneity of differentiating hESC cultures in vitro. Now the group of Hongkui Deng at the School of Life Sciences at Peking University have demonstrated the potential usefulness of the cell surface marker CD24 for identification and enrichment of pancreatic progenitor cells derived from ESC. The study (Jiang et al.), published in the April Edition of Stem Cells, also shows the equivalence of in vitro differentiated pancreatic progenitor cells with those seen in vivo through the analysis of CD24 positive cells.

CD24: a Novel Surface Marker for PDX1-Positive Pancreatic Progenitors Derived from Human Embryonic Stem Cells

From the April 2011 Issue of Stem Cells

Paper Commentary by Stuart P. Atkinson

Pancreatic beta cell replacement for the treatment of type I diabetes mellitus through the directed differentiation of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) is one of the great hopes for regenerative medicine. Great strides have been made towards this goal, although the efficient production of functionally mature functional beta cells from hESC-pancreatic progenitor cells has not yet been reported. One of the main limitations is the heterogeneity of differentiating hESC cultures in vitro. Now the group of Hongkui Deng at the School of Life Sciences at Peking University have demonstrated the potential usefulness of the cell surface marker CD24 for identification and enrichment of pancreatic progenitor cells derived from ESC. The study (Jiang et al.), published in the April Edition of Stem Cells, also shows the equivalence of in vitro differentiated pancreatic progenitor cells with those seen in vivo through the analysis of CD24 positive cells.

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