Thursday, December 19, 2013

Stem cells make Wired's list of 2013 scientific highlights

Brain cells derived from human embyronic stem cells
It’s always fun when you make one of those end-of-the-year-best-things list. In this case we, and by we I mean stem cell research, made the Wired magazine list of Best Scientific Discoveries of 2013 – even if we had to share top billing with a new meat-eating mammal and see-through brains (very cool).

Wired said stem cells made the list because the science “announced several big steps towards engineering functioning organs”. That included creating what they described as a “mini-brain” from reprogrammed human skin cells.

The article goes on to say:
“By providing just the right chemical environment, European scientists coaxed the stem cells to become neurons and arrange themselves into different structures that crudely resemble the anatomy of a developing fetal brain. The researchers are using these methods to study what goes wrong in developmental brain disorders like microcephaly, using stem cells from individual patients.”
It’s fascinating work which is why we blogged about the brain blobs when the study first came out.

The Wired year-in-review article highlighted some other research that we also thought highly enough of to write about, work that extended the boundaries of the science in developing human kidney tissue saying: “The road to creating transplantable tissues from stem cells is still long, but these are encouraging steps.”

All in all, a pretty good year for the science. It’s going to be fascinating to see what 2014 will bring.

Kevin McCormack

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