Monday, February 25, 2013

Gene therapy may activate stem cells in heart failure patients

Medical School

It’s been a while since I last posted!!  I've finally got an offer to study medicine at Kings College London!! I am especially excited because Kings is at the forefront of stem cell research and I would love to be involved in research at some point. They recently opened the “stem cell hotel” funded by the medical research council which aims to encourage collaborative experiments between clinicians and cell biologists.

I definitely think we are heading in the right direction by integrating the work carried out by the scientists in labs with that of the clinician who has expert insight into the treatment of disease. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012


So it's that time of year again in which we reflect on the main events of 2012 and look ahead to next year... 

2013 Smart Guide: Revolutionary human stem cell trial - health - 19 December 2012 - New Scientist

If all goes to plan, 2013 should see the first human trial of "rewound" cells (iPSC)! - I'd love to hear your views and predictions for the incoming year...please post below!


Friday, November 30, 2012

BLOOD STEM CELLS - Bringing stem cell technology…..into the clinic?

Have a peak at this article in the telegraph:

It sounds almost too good to be true! The team at Cambridge University that conducted the trial have hailed the breakthrough as the easiest and safest source of producing stem cells; however the safety of using such stem cells still remains unknown.

This could prove to be an excellent and efficient method to slowly introduce the use of stem cell technology in the clinic in a more widespread manner. One of the many benefits is that these new stem cells can be stored for a significant period of time and grow fairly easily. The “late outgrowth endothelial progenitor cells” – as they’re known, are then subsequently turned into induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, which can be turned into other body cells.
Up until now scientists hadn’t found an appropriate type of cell in the blood that could be turned into a stem cell so this is quite an advance!

One of the other considerations is that it is much more practical and easy to put into practice in the clinic. Often iPS cells are taken from the skin or other tissues, which can require surgery such as a biopsy. These tissue biopsies are undesirable particularly for children and the elderly whereas taking blood samples is routine for all patients.

Dr Rana, a lecturer in Regenerative Medicine, put great emphasis on the need for a cautious approach at this early stage as there as still many safety issues that need to be overcome.
“The ultimate aim is to grow tissue … which we can use in replacement therapies, that would be ideal.”
“But a really important step is, rather than simple think about the technology in a laboratory, transfer it into a clinic and make it useful for everybody.”

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Nobel Prize in medicine 2012 for Yamanaka and Gurdon

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2012 was awarded jointly to Sir John B. Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka "for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent"

The Nobel Prize recognizes two scientists who discovered that mature, specialised cells can be reprogrammed to become immature cells capable of developing into all tissues of the body. Their findings have revolutionised our understanding of how cells and organisms develop.

John B. Gurdon discovered in 1962 that the specialisation of cells is reversible. In a classic experiment, he replaced the immature cell nucleus in an egg cell of a frog with the nucleus from a mature intestinal cell. This modified egg cell developed into a normal tadpole. The DNA of the mature cell still had all the information needed to develop all cells in the frog.

Shinya Yamanaka discovered more than 40 years later, in 2006, how intact mature cells in mice could be reprogrammed to become immature stem cells. Surprisingly, by introducing only a few genes, he could reprogram mature cells to become pluripotent stem cells, i.e. immature cells that are able to develop into all types of cells in the body.

These groundbreaking discoveries have completely changed our view of the development and cellular specialisation. We now understand that the mature cell does not have to be confined forever to its specialised state. Textbooks have been rewritten and new research fields have been established. By reprogramming human cells, scientists have created new opportunities to study diseases and develop methods for diagnosis and therapy.

I think anyone who is remotely interested in stem cells will recognise the important contributions these two scientists have made to this field and it's about time they got some recognition for it! 

iPSC timeline *updated*

Hi guys! I thought I would repost a link of a timeline I made of all the main breakthroughs in reprogrammed stem cell research (iPSC - Induced pluripotent stem cells) in the last 10 years:
Reprogrammed stem cells are adult cells turned back into a stem-like state, restoring their lost potential. 


Sunday, October 7, 2012

An eye into the future

A few months ago, I wrote a post about a recent trial that had been carried out using embryonic stem cells to treat diseases of the eye. The trial was carried out on two patients with different conditions: One with age-related macular degeneration - the leading cause of blindness in the developed world - and another patient in her 50s with Stargardt's disease.

This week we have learnt about an experimental treatment using skin cells to improve the vision of blind mice which may help those with macular degeneration. The fact that the trial involved induced pluripotent stem cells as opposed to embryonic stem cells could dispel concerns initially raised about the ethical implications. Another benefit is that patients would not need drugs to prevent rejection of the transplanted cells.

It's often said that induced pluripotent stem cells transplantation will be important in the practice of medicine in some distant future, but scientists are keen to suggest the future is almost here.

The study was published online in advance of print in the journal Molecular Medicine.