ricerca spiegata

Sommari di research paper, scritti per non-scienziati

Capturing the primordial human stem cells in the lab

Researchers at the University of Cambridge have discovered a method to “reset” human embryonic stem cells to an earlier developmental stage, producing a type of stem cell up to now only seen in rodents.

Using time-lapse imagery to take a closer look at human embryonic stem cells

Time-lapse imaging and tracking of single human embryonic stem cells has allowed researchers to zoom in and take a closer look at the behaviour of these special cells. Researchers from the University of Sheffield have identified multiple bottlenecks that restrict the growth of these cells in the laboratory, and observed complex and diverse behaviour as the cells move around the culture dish and interact with their neighbours. These findings will help researchers design the best conditions to safely and efficiently grow human embryonic stem cells in the laboratory. 

New study raises doubts over the benefits of heart stem cell therapy

Summary

Numerous clinical trials have attempted to test the benefits of using a patient’s own stem cells (taken from the bone marrow) to treat heart disease. Results have been conflicting; some claim significant improvements in heart function, whilst others report none at all. A group at Imperial College London investigated the possible reasons for this inconsistency and found strange, unexplained discrepancies within reports of many of the clinical trials. They have identified a link between claimed success rates and discrepancies, casting doubts over the validity of this treatment.

- 133 reports of 49 clinical trials were investigated
- 600+ discrepancies were found
- Discrepancies ranged from minor to serious mistakes and misrepresentation of data
- Reports with the most discrepancies claimed most benefit to patients, while those without discrepancies showed no improvement in patients’ conditions 

Macrophages

MacrophagesAnti-inflammatory macrophages from the rat brain grown in the laboratory. The green represents an anti-inflammatory protein and the red represents a protein made by macrophages only.

What's behind this study?

What's behind this study?Cartoon describing the idea behind a study published in Nature NeuroScience in July 2013 and described in our Research explained section.

New strategy for brain repair in multiple sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) affects over 400,000 people in the EU, causing problems with vision, movement and speech. In MS, the protective layer that surrounds nerves in the brain and spinal cord, called myelin, is destroyed. As the disease progresses, this damage often goes unchecked because the regenerative process for replacing myelin (‘remyelination’) fails. There are currently no approved therapies that tackle this problem by promoting remyelination. Researchers hope a new study published in the journal Nature Neuroscience will contribute to the development of new therapies by helping to explain how remyelination is controlled. The scientists studied immune cells called macrophages, which are involved in remyelination. They found that the macrophages must become anti-infammatory for remyelination to proceed, and identified a protein released by macrophages which encourages remyelination.

Research explained: new 'research spotlights' for patients

Patients have told us they want to know about research: What are scientists studying now? What are they finding out? And how do these findings contribute to progress towards new treatments? Our partner OptiStem, an EU-funded stem cell research project, has been working on a way to help answer these questions.

Mesoangioblasts can be derived from reprogrammed cells and may be an effective future treatment for muscular dystrophies

Summary 

A recent study has shown that muscle stem cells called mesoangioblasts can be grown in the laboratory from induced pluripotent stem cells (IPS cells). Scientists think that mesoangioblasts transplants may be an effective treatment for muscular dystrophy but currently these cells have to be taken from donor who is a tissue ‘match’ for the patient, which is relatively rare.As IPS cells are grown in the lab from a patient’s own muscle cells this could potentially overcome the problem of having to find a ‘matched’ donor.

An overview of stem cells which could be used to regenerate skeletal muscle.

Summary

There has been much effort by researchers to understand how skeletal muscle repairs itself and which cells are involved in this process. This article summarises a review by researchers in the group of Professor Giulio Cossu from the Stem Cell Research Institute, University of Milan from January 2010. The review discussed the different types of stem cells which could be used to repair muscles; as well as how therapies using these cells might work.

Relief of Duchenne Muscular dystrophy symptoms in mice using artificial chromosomes

Summary

Recently it’s been shown that relief of muscular dystrophy symptoms is possible using stem cells. In Duchenne muscular dystrophy the protein dystrophin normally found in muscles is absent. Scientists of the San Raffaele Scientific Institute in Milan showed that giving muscles in mice the correct 'recipe' for dystrophin (it's gene) meant that the right protein could be produced.

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