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November 2008
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Recipe for capturing authentic embryonic stem cells may apply to any mammal, study suggests

Embryonic stem (ES) cells have been available from inbred mice since 1981 but have not been validated for other rodents. Failure to establish ES cells from a range of mammals challenges the identity of cultivated stem cells and our understanding of the pluripotent state. Here we investigated derivation of ES cells from the rat. We applied molecularly defined conditions designed to shield the ground state of authentic pluripotency from inductive differentiation stimuli. Undifferentiated cell lines developed that exhibited diagnostic features of ES cells including colonization of multiple tissues in viable chimeras. Definitive ES cell status was established by transmission of the cell line genome to offspring. Derivation of germline-competent ES cells from the rat paves the way to targeted genetic manipulation in this valuable biomedical model species. Rat ES cells will also provide a refined test-bed for functional evaluation of pluripotent stem cell-derived tissue repair and regeneration.

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Rivals race to turn back a cell's clock

By Mark Johnson of the Journal Sentinel

First of three parts

James Thomson knew that to send a cell back to its past was no trivial matter. Like generations of biologists, the University of Wisconsin-Madison stem cell pioneer had been taught that development was a one-way street; it began with an embryo and finished with all the mature cells that make up the body.

Yet in the summer of 2007, Thomson and scientists around the globe were racing to do what once had been thought impossible: to reverse the natural process and return old cells to their embryonic origin. They sought the healing potential of embryonic stem cells - immortal in a lab dish, able to become any cell in the body - but without the controversial destruction of human embryos.

An entire field, regenerative medicine, had come of age based on the promise that stem cells might someday offer a basic tool to understand and repair damaged organs and tissue. If scientists could obtain them by reprogramming a patient's own cells, they would bypass two major obstacles: the ethical debate over the use of embryos and the risk that one body will reject transplanted cells from another.

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Quintessence gets FDA OK

By JUDY NEWMAN

608-252-6156

Quintessence Biosciences has received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval to try its lead drug candidate, QBI-139, on human patients.

Phase 1 clinical trials are expected to begin in January at the UW Comprehensive Cancer Center, involving 30 patients with any type of solid tumor cancer.

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Dormant Stem Cells for Emergencies

A small group of stem cells in the bone marrow remains dormant almost throughout life. Only in case of injury or blood loss do they awaken and become active. Then they start dividing immediately to make up for the loss of blood cells. The possibility of specifically waking up these dormant stem cells opens up new prospects for cancer treatment. This is shown in recent publications by scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum) in Heidelberg and the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale and the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research in Lausanne in the latest issues of "CELL" and "CELL Stem Cells".

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New 'control knobs' for stem cells identified

Natural changes in voltage that occur across the membrane of adult human stem cells act as a signal to delay or accelerate the decision of a stem cell to differentiate into a specific cell type. This discovery gives scientists in regenerative medicine a new set of "control knobs" to use in ongoing efforts to shape the behavior of adult stem cells.

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