Recent Stem Cell News

In the past few weeks we’ve seen some really interesting papers and news articles in the stem cell field....

In the past few weeks we’ve seen some really interesting papers and news articles in the stem cell field. Below you will find a brief summary of some of what we found to be the most interesting.  

A study in Nature out of Ricardo Dolmetsch’s lab at Stanford showed that they were able to recreate a form of Lung QT called Timothy Syndrome in a dish by deriving cardiomyocytes from the skin of patients with the disease.  They began screening compounds on the diseased cardiomyocytes and found that a compound called roscovitine restored the cardiomyocytes electrical and calcium levels back to normal.   Below you will find links to a very nice review, the paper, and some really great videos from the Dolmetsch lab showing the arrhythmia of the diseased cardiomyoctes vs the healthy cardiomyocytes.

Here is a very interesting read by Rob Waters of Bloomberg on Sangamo’s gene therapy approach to a cure for HIV.  If you remember a few months back a patient in Germany was cured of both HIV and leukemia when he received a stem cell transplant from a donor who had a gene mutation (CCR5) and was therefore immune to HIV infection.  This is obviously not a practical option for most patients with HIV. With zinc finger nuclease technology, Sangamo hopes that by extracting white blood cells from a patients blood and cutting out the CCR5 gene (HIV’s entry point to the white blood cells) and then putting them back into the patient, it will have the same effect as the German patient who was cured of HIV. Read more in the article. 

We have been constantly saying how detrimental these ongoing stem cell policy battles have been for the field but a study in Cell Stem Cell by Aaron Levine at Georgia Institute of Technology reports that the ongoing uncertainty of stem cell research has had a negative effect on the whole field, not just scientists conducting embryonic stem cell research.  What this study can’t yet quantify is the negative impact this will have on the future of this field.  Stem cell science is such a new and growing field that it is critical to encourage young scientists to enter stem cell research as it is our greatest . This back and forth battle casts doubts into the minds of young scientists as to if they want to enter the field.  We’ve had this back and forth since 2001 and it needs to end.  How can we convince the brightest minds to enter the field if they won’t know if they will be able to secure grants to pursure their research? 

The House Republicans have put forth their budget proposal for FY12 and it has cuts of almost $1.6 billion to the NIH.  President Obama’s budget proposal calls for an increase to NIH funding of about $740 milliion.

And finally on a more serious note, for all of you scientists out there who are Lady Gaga fans, check this video out.