Friday, April 26, 2013

Stem cell Stories that caught our eye: type 2 diabetes therapy, potential HIV cure, and efforts to train the next generation

Here are some stem cell stories that caught our eye this past week. Some are groundbreaking science, others are of personal interest to us, and still others are just fun.

Stem cells isolated from blood of breast cancer patients. While most researchers accept the concept of cancer stem cells in blood cancers, some still question their role in solid tumors. In this story, a German team has isolated cells circulating in the blood of breast cancer patients that appear to be responsible for the spread of the tumor. It has been known that the presence of circulating cancer cells in the blood stream resulted in a poor prognosis, but not uniformly. Some patients with these cells do well. The German team found that the poor prognosis directly correlated with those patients who had circulating cells that were identifiable different. The team called these cancer stem cells.

Stem cells restore brain function in mice. A team from Wisconsin turned human embryonic stem cells into brain cells, transplanted them into mice that had brain injuries and found that the mice did better on certain tests of cognitive ability. Here's more about that work.

White house hosts science fair event. Having long stood on a soapbox for involving young people in science as early as possible, I have to applaud this now-annual event at the White House. Here The New York Times describes one particularly bright 11 year old who has her robot write a doodle for President Obama. The White House also produced a video about the day.

President Barack Obama talks with Evan Jackson, 10, Alec Jackson, 8, and Caleb Robinson, 8, from McDonough, Ga., while looking at exhibits at the White House Science Fair in the State Dining Room, April 22, 2013. The sports-loving grade-schoolers created a new product concept to keep athletes cool and helps players maintain safe body temperatures on the field. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
New science learning center for the public in Marin. The CIRM-funded Buck Institute has opened a new learning center dedicated to help train the next generation of scientists and help inform the public about the stem cell work and other aging research done at the institute. This story shows the public enjoying the opportunity at the center’s opening last Saturday.

Cartoon learning tool for kids. Children from 9 to 92 will enjoy and learn from this animation of a stem cell as a super hero.

Sometimes poetry says it best. This poem in Smithsonian magazine provides a short enjoyable meditation on stem cells.

D.G.

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