research explained

Rebooting the immune system: Blood stem cells in multiple sclerosis therapy

As part of an international clinical trial, researchers at the Sheffield Teaching Hospital recently reported interesting developments in multiple sclerosis therapy. Using the patients’ own blood stem cells, the scientists were able to reboot their immune system, therefore preventing autoreactive immune cells from further attacks on their fragile nervous system.

New way of growing blood vessels could boost regenerative medicine

Growing tissues and organs in the lab for transplantation into patients could become easier after scientists discovered an effective way to produce three-dimensional networks of blood vessels, vital for tissue survival yet a current stumbling block in regenerative medicine.

Unlocking Nature’s Secrets for Building the Human Brain

Many people consider the human brain to be the most complex biological structure in the world. So that raises the question, is building the brain the most complex process in the world? It may well be, but researchers are making progress mimicking the earliest steps of building the brain in a lab dish.

Treating Huntington’s disease: making new neurons is not enough


Many researchers and clinicians believe that stem cells will one day be used in regenerative medicines to treat many injuries and diseases, including Huntington’s disease (HD). Researchers think that nerve cells that die in HD patients may be able to be replaced with new healthy neurons made from stem cells. Scientists are already able to use stem cells to create nerve cells similar to those lost by HD patients.

Reconstructing the brain: approaches to treating Parkinson’s disease

Dr Malin Parmar and colleagues concisely describe in an ACNR review efforts over the past 30 years to develop a treatment for Parkinson’s disease patients that replaces destroyed nerve cells in the brain. Many different approaches are being taken, from brain cell transplants to using pluripotent stem cells. Now, a technology called ‘direct neural conversion’ can be added to the arsenal of tools researchers are using.

Learning to build a heart from the cells up

Perhaps it’s no surprise that cells are very diverse in their shapes and functions. Even stem cells have diverse needs and environmental conditions depending on what types of cells they make in the body. This diversity can make studying some stem cells particularly difficult, such as cardiovascular/heart stem cells

Autism research using mini-organs grown from patient derived stem cells


Autism is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder whose causes are not fully understood. Recent work by scientists at Yale University has shown that organoids – miniature three-dimensional organ buds – grown from stem cells could help shed some light on autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Unique technology combination pinpoints the genetic signature of a blood stem cell

Although all the cells in a colony of blood cells may look alike, they may have different functions.  Tools to track and analyse individual stem cells within a cell population like this can help us better understand how the blood system works, and may have implications for cancer research.

New clues into how stem cells get their identity

Scientists at DanStem, the Danish Stem Cell Centre, University of Copenhagen have identified one mechanism that explains how some stem cells choose to become a given cell type: the cells combine specific sets of proteins at precise positions along the DNA. When these particular groups of proteins are combined, the gates are opened so that certain groups of genes can now be used, driving the cells towards a new identity.

Researchers discover back door into the cell

Researchers at the Hubrecht Institute and Utrecht University have developed a revolutionary and effective way of introducing molecular tools into cells. According to Dr. Niels Geijsen, who headed the research team, this discovery brings us one step closer to treating genetic diseases:

“The difficulty of treating genetic (inherited) diseases is that we, thus far, are unable to safely transport large therapeutic compounds, for example, proteins, into cells,” explains Geijsen. “ With our new technology, we’ve found that we can do this very efficiently.”

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