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Seeing cells from a different angle

Seeing cells from a different angle

Thanks to microscopy, scientists can compete with the most talented photographers and take the most astonishing pictures! Although I have been focusing on microscopy pictures in this blog, microscopy is not the only way to make pretty pictures of cells.

Study reveals the genesis of brain cells that degenerate in Huntington’s disease

Elena Cattaneo reports on recent research that examines how a particular type of cell develops in the human brain, and how studies like this fit into the overall picture of research collaboration and funding, in Italy and in Europe.

It took 4 years of continuous experiments of 17 researchers from 6 groups in 2 European countries to understand more about how cells develop in the striatum. The striatum is the area of the brain that degenerates in Huntington’s disease (HD) – a neurological disorder that as of today, has no cure. This work, led by my group at the University of Milan, was published in Nature Neuroscience on 10 Nov 2014.

Making insulin producing beta cells from stem cells – how close are we?

The unseen world: Insulin-producing cells made from human embryonic stem cellsThe unseen world: Insulin-producing cells made from human embryonic stem cells

Two recent studies have revealed for the first time how to to generate insulin producing cells, that resemble normal beta cells, in the lab from human pluripotent stem cells. This provides a step forward for a potential cell therapy treatment for diabetes. But how alike are these cells to the beta cells found in our bodies? How close are we to testing these cells in diabetics? And what other questions still remain? In this commentary, Henrik Semb tackles these questions providing perspective in this complex and challenging field.

Interview with Henrik Semb: the pancreas, beta cells and diabetes

Professor Henrik Semb is the director of the Danish stem cell center. His research group focuses on how organs are formed and cells acquire their fates in vivo. In particular, they are interested in how processes such as cell shape changes, movement and polarity, not only affect 3D architecture of the developing organ but also what type of cells are made.  In vivo findings from their lab have given insight into coaxing human pluripotent stem cells into functional insulin-producing beta cells as a source for therapy in type 1 diabetes.