“Mucus is everywhere,” says microbiologist Jeremy Barr. Almost every animal uses it to make a barrier that protects tissues that are exposed to the environment, such as the gut or lungs. Now, Barr and a team of researchers have discovered that mucus is also the key to an ancient partnership between animals and viruses.
JUERGEN BERGER/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Scientists have used the cloning technique that led to Dolly the sheep to turn human skin into embryonic stem cells – which can make any tissue in the body.
The US team overcame technical problems that had frustrated researchers for more than a decade to create batches of the bodys master cells from donated skin.
The work will spark fresh interest in the use of cloning in medical research, and reignite the controversy over a procedure that demands a supply of human eggs, and the creation and destruction of early stage embryos. The US group employed the technique to make embryonic stem cells that were genetically matched to individuals. Such cells could be used to study diseases in exquisite detail, and regenerate damaged organs and tissues.
A human egg before nuclear extraction and fusion with a skin cell. The resulting embryonic stem cells were genetically identical to the skin donor. Photograph: Oregon Health & Science University
They’re man’s best friend, and they may be one of the heart’s best allies as well.A panel of heart disease experts convened by the American Heart Association AHA reviewed research linking heart health and owning a pet and found that owning a pet is “probably associated” with a lower risk of heart disease for those without a history of heart problems, and with greater survival rates among heart disease patients.
In a New York laboratory, a special group of mice is destined to outlive their cage-mates. Their muscles will stay strong for longer. Their brains will stay sharp for longer. When they eventually die, they will have seen more months than their peers.The secret to their longevity isn’t a drug or a special diet. Instead, Dongsheng Cai from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine simply reduced the levels of a single protein called NF-kB in part of the brain called the hypothalamus. That was enough to extend their lives.
When a group of genetically identical mice lived in the same complex enclosure for 3 months, individuals that explored the environment more broadly grew more new neurons than less adventurous mice, according to a study published today (May 9) in Science. This link between exploratory behavior and adult neurogenesis shows that brain plasticity can be shaped by experience and suggests that the process may promote individuality, even among genetically identical organisms.
“This is a clear and quantitative demonstration that individual differences in behavior can be reflected in individual differences in brain plasticity,” said Fred Gage of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, who was not involved the study. “I don’t know of another clear example of that . . . and it tells me that there is a tighter relationship between [individual] experiences and neurogenesis than we had previously thought.”
Posted May 9, 2013on:
Doctors announced today that two-and-a-half year old Hannah Warren just became the youngest person in history to receive a bioengineered organ transplant, a new windpipe made of a synthetic scaffold and her own stem cells. The nine-hour long procedure was performed April 9th, at Children’s Hospital of Illinois in Peoria, but the results were just made public. Doctors expect that Warren will be able to return home in a few months and breathe, eat, drink and swallow using the new windpipe, all of which she couldn’t do without the aid of machines until now.
Furthermore, because the procedure was performed using her own cells and no donor organ, there is next to zero risk of rejection.
Mutations on a single gene appear to increase the risk for both an unusual sleep disorder and migraines, a team reports in Science Translational Medicine.
The finding could help explain the links between sleep problems and migraines. It also should make it easier to find new drugs to treat migraines, researchers say.